New sports for Tokyo Games to be decided in 2016, says IOC

Thu Feb 5, 2015 4:27am EST
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - The decision on which and how many new sports will be added to the slate for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will be determined next year, just before the start of the Rio Games, IOC Vice President John Coates said on Thursday.

Program changes approved by the IOC late last year allow it to bring in more sports and cut some events as it works to keep the Olympics relevant to spectators and sponsors, with baseball and softball -- out of the Games since Beijing in 2008 -- believed to be prime contenders.

Coates, in Tokyo for a review of preparations for the 2020 Games, laid out a timetable that included setting assessment criteria for proposed sports by April this year, and then go to an IOC session for determination just before the start of the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

The decision would take into consideration things such as cost, popularity with youth, how many countries take part in the sport and a balance in gender participation, Coates told a news conference, but declined to say how many sports would be selected.

"I can't tell you whether one, two, three, four, whatever number of events will be recommended ultimately, because that's going to be largely dependent on the composition of the events," he said, noting that this would be on top of more than 10,000 athletes and 304-310 events already specified.

"If there are team events involved, there's going to be more athletes involved. If there weren't team events involved, there could be a combination of other sports. We don't want to rule out any combination."

Besides baseball and softball, which are popular in Japan, karate and squash have been mentioned in Japanese media as potential candidates for inclusion.

Billiards and snooker said last month that they also want a spot in the 2020 games.   Continued...

People walk past Olympic ring structures, which are part of booths at a photo exhibition on the history of Japanese participation in the previous Olympic games and its journey to the 2020 Olympics, at a commercial building in Tokyo's business district September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino