POSTED: September 28th 2015

UPDATED: Tokyo 2020 proposes five sports for the Olympic Summer Games - Baseball and Softball could get a second chance

Baseball and softball bent over backwards after they were cut out of the Games following Beijing 2008 and even joined forces to get back on the Olympic Programme / WBSC
Baseball and softball bent over backwards after they were cut out of the Games following Beijing 2008 and even joined forces to get back on the Olympic Programme / WBSC

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee announced today that five sports (Baseball/Softball, Karate, Skateboard, Sports Climbing and Surfing) have been put forward to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add to the Summer Games.

Olympic Agenda 2020 has allowed for this new addition opening back up the Olympic Programme to change and Tokyo 2020 is the first organizing committee to take advantage of this new opportunity. The final decision will be made by the IOC at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016 just prior to the Summer Games.

The process to identify the new sports began in May 2015. Twenty-six IOC-recognised International Federations originally applied, and eight of these were shortlisted in June 2015.

"Each of the eight shortlisted international federations amply demonstrated their potential to add to the value of the Games and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to each of them for their outstanding efforts," said Fujio Mitarai, Chair of the Additional Event Programme Panel.

"We firmly believe that by connecting with youth, bringing to life Olympic Agenda 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 vision, our proposal constitutes the best possible package that will add the most value to the Games."

The proposed events are: Baseball (mens), Softball (womens), Karate (Kata W/M) Kumite (3 weight classes), Skateboard (street/park), Sports Climbing (bouldering, lead and speed combined (W/M), and Surfing (shortboard W/M).

The choice of these new sports was based on their popularity as current sports and as emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally. The Tokyo 2020 vision is an ongoing focus of flexibility, innovation and youth, allowing the organizing committee to reflect the sports culture of Tokyo and Japan, destinations that have always captured the imagination of the world's youth.

World Baseball Softball Confederation Reaction

"Tokyo 2020's decision to propose our sport is a 'home run' and giant leap forward for baseball and softball," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. "On behalf of WBSC and our athletes, I would like to thank Tokyo 2020 as well as IOC President Thomas Bach, whose Olympic Agenda 2020 vision has paved the way for this extraordinary opportunity. The entire baseball and softball world is excited and ready to cross the Olympic home plate. But above all, I am happy for all our male and female athletes who today can see there is a real chance to fulfil their greatest dream of representing their country in the most important sporting spectacle there is -- the Olympic Games."

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred said: "Today's announcement by Tokyo 2020 to include baseball/softball into its proposal for additional events at the 2020 Olympic Games is an exciting step forward to hopefully seeing our game return to this great platform. We look forward to the IOC's decision in August 2016."

Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki, stated, "The recommendation today from Tokyo 2020 to restore Olympic baseball and softball has drawn attention here in Japan as well as globally.  United with WBSC and our colleagues from around the world, baseball and softball want to shine bright for Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Movement moving forward."

WBSC President Fraccari added: "Baseball and softball's global position, expansion and opportunities today are thanks to all of our partners' contributions and a shared vision to return our sport to the highest stage in sports, the Olympic Games. And we will do everything possible so that baseball and softball, if included, are a great attraction/success for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and IOC's Agenda 2020, as it remains WBSC's top priority to demonstrate that our sport aligns with the Olympic Movement and has the qualities to earn a place on the Olympic programme in 2020 and in future Games."

World Surfing Reaction

"Tokyo 2020's announcement today is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global Surfing Community," said ISA President, Fernando Aguerre.

"The ISA has been riding an amazing wave in this journey for Olympic inclusion and we are thrilled that Tokyo 2020 recognise the exceptional value and youthful lifestyle that Surfing can bring to the 2020 Games. We are deeply grateful to Tokyo 2020 and the IOC for providing us with this wonderful opportunity. We are immensely proud of our sport and what it would bring to the Games and we will continue to work closely with the Olympic Movement to achieve our Olympic dream.

"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.

"Today's announcement gives us renewed drive and focus and we are looking forward to working closely with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 in the crucial months ahead to deliver the best possible solution to the IOC Session in Rio"

Casper Steinfath (Denmark), ISA Vice-President, 2-time World Champion and Chairperson of the ISA Athletes' Commission, said, "Young, aspiring Surfers around the world are rejoicing today.  This is a truly epic decision that will inspire and motivate all my fellow athletes to dream big and go for Gold in 2020.  I am extremely stoked for my sport, but also for how Surfing will bring new excitement to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games if it is admitted by the IOC next year."

Tia Blanco (USA), 2015 ISA World Surfing Games Champion & Professional Surfer, said, "Surfing would be an absolutely amazing addition to the Tokyo 2020 Games and I can't wait for the opportunity to represent my country on the greatest sporting stage.  The chance to Surf for Gold for my country in Tokyo would be a dream come true."

International Sport Climbing Reaction

"It is a great honor to have been chosen. We thank the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel for this fantastic opportunity and the recognition within the Olympic Movement. Of course, there is still a long way to go, and all of us at the IFSC are deeply committed to meeting the challenges ahead. Together with our athletes and the National Federations, we are reaching new heights", says Marco Scolaris, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) President.

"Now more than ever, we are convinced that Sport Climbing would be the perfect complement to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program, and be a source of inspiration to the 500,000 Japanese climbers and all the spectators who will discover this sport in real conditions" says Yagihara Kunio, Japanese Mountaineering Association (JMA) President.

International Skateboarding Reaction

"Today's announcement by Tokyo 2020 marks an important milestone in skateboarding's short Olympic history which started with a first Olympic experience at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in summer 2014," said ISF President Gary Ream. "This decision recognizes the growth and popularity of skateboarding, and we appreciate that the IOC has made it possible for new sports to be added to the Games. The ISF and the skateboarding community are ready, equipped and well positioned to help make the first Olympic appearance of skateboarding an amazing one for skaters and fans alike."

Tony Hawk, Legendary Skateboarder, said, "It is exciting that skateboarding could possibly be included in the Olympics. This is not only a great opportunity for our sport and the skaters, but also for the Games. It is now more important than ever to preserve the unique culture of skateboarding which makes our sport so appealing and relevant. I firmly believe that skateboarding's interests can be best protected by skateboarders themselves. The ISF is doing an excellent job of including representatives from all corners of the skate community (and across the globe) to make sure that we are preserving our authenticity."

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Tokyo 2020

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