Five new sports added for Tokyo 2020

4 August 2016

IOC: The International Olympic Committee has voted to add five new sports to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

In what has been described by the IOC as ‘the most comprehensive evolution’ of the schedule in Olympic history, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, surfing and baseball/softball were added.

The members voted unanimously to approve the proposal during the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro. The review process has been underway for two years.

The sports were proposed due to their focus on youth – identified as a key priority for the Tokyo Games – as well as the balance between genders, established and emerging sports, team and individual sports and indoor and outdoor sports.

They are also innovative and exciting sports that are well supported in Japan and beyond.

“We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

“Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”

The announcement is positive for Australia's future Olympians with strong talent in skateboarding, surfing and softball in particular.

Baseball was included in the Olympic program from 1992 while softball was included from 1996 but both were dropped after the Beijing 2008 Games.

Australia's women have claimed a medal at every Games in softball with bronze at all bar Athens 2004 where the team managed silver. The men's baseball team claimed silver behind Cuba at Athens 2004.

In surfing, Australia has won 15 men’s (38% of the total titles conducted) and 19 women’s world championships (50% of the total titles conducted) since the first World Surfing Titles were held in Australia in 1964. There are an estimated 20,000 competitive surfers in Australia with 3000 of those juniors.

Their inclusion adds 18 events and 474 athletes to the Olympic programme without impacting existing sports. The package was proposed by the Organising Committee for Tokyo 2020 in response to the new flexibility provided by Olympic Agenda 2020.

IOC Vice President and AOC President John Coates is the Chairman of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020. Coates presented the proposed venues for the five additional sports. 

Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary venues installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport.

Discussions on the event programme in the existing 28 Olympic sports for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are ongoing and will be finalised by the IOC Executive Board in mid-2017.

Candice Keller

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