TOKYO (Reuters) - Five additional sports — baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing — have been recommended by the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics for inclusion at the 2020 Summer Games, it was announced on Monday.
Under the proposal, a total of 18 new medal events, nine each for men and women, would be contested by an extra 474 athletes at the Games.
Under new rules, Olympic host cities can hand-pick sports they want to see contested at the Games, although the final decision rests with the International Olympic Committee, which will vote on the 2020 recommendations next August.
Bowling, squash and wushu had also been short-listed for inclusion in Tokyo but were left off the final recommended list.
“This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally,” Tokyo organisers said in a statement.
“They will serve as a driving force to further promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal, and will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision.”
As part of reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach last year, future Olympic hosts are now being offered the chance to bring in sports popular in their countries to boost ratings and attract greater sponsorship.
Organisers wanted sports already popular with Japanese youth so new venues would not need to be built and add to ballooning costs.
Baseball and softball, united under the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), were previously on the Olympic programme but were dropped after Asia last hosted the Summer Games, in Beijing in 2008.
Karate has never been contested at the Olympics. Judo, another martial art founded in Japan, first joined in 1964, when Tokyo last hosted the Summer Games, and has been included on every programme since 1972.
Organisers recommended a total of eight medal events, two in kata and six in kumite. They also proposed two medals each for shortboard surfing and climbing, combining bouldering, lead and speed.
“Each of the eight short-listed 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,” Fujio Mitarai, Chair of the Additional Event Programme Panel, said in a statement.
“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.”
Reporting by Julian Linden, editing by Ed Osmond