Surfing and skateboarding look set to be Olympic events at the Tokyo 2020 Games after they were included on a list of five extra sports put forward by organisers.
The other three sports proposed by Tokyo were baseball/softball, karate, and sports climbing. If the IOC gives the go-ahead it will mean an extra 18 events involving an additional 474 athletes.
The IOC has changed its rules to allow Games hosts to propose sports which are popular in their country. Squash also had hopes of being included but those have now been dashed.
International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said: “Tokyo 2020’s announcement is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global surfing community.
“Surfing has incredible and growing global appeal, particularly amongst young people, and we believe that the dynamic energy of the sport and its fan base around the world would bring many benefits for Tokyo 2020 and the Games.
“Surfing embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the programme, helping the Games reach new fans through live action and stunning broadcast opportunities.”
Squash was one of three sports initially in the running to make it to 2020 but lost out when wrestling was reinstated. Professional Squash Association (PSA) Chief Executive Alex Gough says the sport should remain positive despite the latest blow to any Olympic aspirations.
He said: “To know that dream is once again out of reach is naturally a difficult proposition for the sport. But I feel we can take a lot of positives from the huge ground we have made as a sport over the last decade – transitioning into a burgeoning global sport that is now broadcast in almost 100 countries worldwide and which has witnessed increases in player earnings by over 20% so far in 2015 alone.”
World squash president Narayana Ramachandran has been left ‘devastated’ by the setback.
“I don’t believe we could have done more to get our message across to both the Tokyo 2020 Games hosts and the IOC,” he said.
“Squash could bring something special as an addition to the program. After our 12-year journey to join the Olympic Games program, and the opportunity of a ‘second chance’ after the heart-break of missing out in our first 2020 bid in Buenos Aires two years ago, I am utterly devastated on behalf of our great sport that our dream of taking part in the Tokyo Games cannot now be realised.
“I know I speak on behalf of the millions of squash players around the world for whom the opportunity of seeing their sport participate in the Olympics has been an absolute priority – and, like me, they will be heartbroken.”