You're in! Four new sports make the cut for Tokyo Olympics
Baseball and softball are returning to the Olympics. They will be part of the games in 2020. Skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing will join the games for the first time.
The International Olympic Committee approved the addition of the sports for the Tokyo Games. The IOC called it an "innovative" mix. The IOC said the events are both traditional and youth-oriented. The events are expected to attract Japanese and global fans.
The five sports included a combined baseball-softball bid. Tokyo organizers proposed that the sports be added the 2020 games last year. Under new IOC rules, host cities can propose additional sports for their own games.
IOC members all voted yes to accept the five sports as a package. The approval was for the Tokyo Games only.
The new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes to the program. The Tokyo Games will feature 33 sports. About 11,000 athletes will participate. That is compared to the usual number of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes.
Men's baseball and women's softball are popular in Japan. They will return to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. The other sports will be at the Olympics for the first time.
The IOC called it "the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history."
Baseball and softball have been off the Olympic program since the 2008 Beijing Games. The two were rejected in separate bids to return for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. They combined forces to put forward a single bid to be added in Tokyo.
Men's baseball was a full part of the Olympic program from 1992 to 2008. Women's softball was added in 1996. The IOC voted them out in 2005.
Baseball will have a six-team tournament. That is short of the eight-team format sought by officials from the sport's international federation. Women's softball will also have six teams. The games will be played in Yokohama.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred welcomed the IOC vote.
"Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics," he said.
Craig Cress is the executive director of USA Softball. He said many young players had were upset after the sport was taken out of the games.
"Their hearts were broken," he said. "They weren't allowed to participate for their country at the Olympics. Now that's back. In 2020, it's our job as ambassadors of the sport to put on a great show in Tokyo."
Before the vote, several IOC members questioned whether baseball would have the world's top players at the games. Pro leagues in Japan and some other countries have agreed to shut down their seasons to send their players to the Olympics. So far, MLB has said they will not shut down.
Franco Carraro is chair of the IOC's program commission. He hopes the international federation can still reach an agreement with MLB. It could be in line with the deals with the NBA and NHL. Those agreements brought pro basketball and ice hockey players into the Olympics.
Skateboarding will have street and park events. It will and feature 80 athletes. It will have 40 men and 40 women.
Climbing will have 40 competitors. They will take part in the disciplines of speed, bouldering and lead (also known as sport).
Karate will have 80 athletes competing in men's and women's Kumite and Kata events.
Surfing will have two shortboard events for 40 competitors. The surfing competition will be held on natural waves. It will be at a beach location in Chiba prefecture.
"Our Olympic dream has now become a reality," International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre said. "This is a game-changing moment for surfing."
Skateboarding and sports climbing events will be held in temporary venues in Tokyo. Karate will be contested at the Nippon Budokan in the capital.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do Olympic officials consider adding new sports?
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