You're in! Four new sports make the cut for Tokyo Olympics
Baseball and softball are returning to the Olympics 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 of traditional and youth-oriented events. They are expected to attract Japanese and global fans.
The five sports included a combined baseball-softball bid. They were put forward for inclusion last year by Tokyo organizers. Under new IOC rules, host cities can propose additional sports for their own games.
IOC members voted unanimously 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 now feature 33 sports and about 11,000 athletes. 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 after a 12-year absence from the Olympics. The other sports will be making their Olympic debuts.
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 for inclusion 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. Manfred added that their approval "will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage."
Craig Cress, executive director of USA Softball, said many young players had suffered after the sport was removed from the games.
"Their hearts were broken that they weren't allowed to participate for their country at the Olympics," he said. "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 declined to do so.
Franco Carraro chairs 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 that brought pro basketball and ice hockey players into the Olympics.
Skateboarding will have street and park events. It will and feature 80 athletes, 40 men and 40 women. In climbing, 40 competitors 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, while 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 urban settings 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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