Baseball, surfing among sports approved for Tokyo 2020 : IOC

Wed Aug 3, 2016 4:57pm EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Five sports, including baseball, skateboarding and surfing, will feature at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the IOC voted them in on Wednesday in an attempt to revamp the Games program to attract a younger audience.

The International Olympic Committee unanimously rubber-stamped the decision taken by its executive board in June, approving the inclusion of skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, karate and a joint baseball/softball bid, which is expected to significantly boost local support for the Olympics.

The IOC session in the Brazilian city voted unanimously with a show of hands in favor of the sports which will make a one-off appearance in the Games.

"This will help make the Tokyo Games one of the most innovative Games in history," IOC Vice President John Coates said.

Baseball and softball, proposed to be staged in Yokohama, will each have a competition involving six teams. They last featured at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 before being taken off the program and missing the 2012 and the 2016 Games.

It is unclear, however, if baseball will feature the world's best players from the MLB in the United States.

"Today’s historic decision by the IOC is a 'home run' for the Olympics, our sport and the Tokyo 2020 Games," World Baseball and Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari said.

"Nations competing for the Olympic gold medal in baseball and softball, in Japan, will best showcase the nature and spirit of our global sport -- and it will be the most covered and most exciting international baseball/softball tournaments in history."   Continued...

Yoshiro Mori, head of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics organising committee, announces new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes