The IOC has approved the inclusion of five sports for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Baseball and softball will return, while karate, sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing will be appearing for the first time. The latest represents the largest and most radical group of additions to any one Olympics in it’s history.
Under new IOC rules, host cities can propose to host additional sports specific to their own games. Tokyo took advantage of this by proposing to add sports with a heavy youth following in addition to those with deep, cultural roots specifically to Japan.
Making an obvious shift towards extreme sports and those that attract a dynamic social media following, a clear effort is being made by the IOC and the Tokyo bid committee to reach younger, millennial audiences.
In a statement released by olympics.org on Wednesday, IOC president Thomas Bach shed some light on the motivation behind the decision.
“We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them,” said Bach.
“Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.” He said.
On top of creating a more youthful atmosphere around the eldest of organized sporting events, the objective of Tokyo’s 2020 bid committee was to add sports with huge popularity in Japan to the mix.
Adding it’s most popular team sport, along with the country’s home-grown martial art achieves this while still catering to the popular tastes of sports fans world-wide.
According the the Olympic Committee, 18 events will be added across the five sports, with close to 500 additional athletes being granted a chance to compete for a medal in Tokyo.
Women and men will be represented evenly, with the exception of baseball (men) and softball (women). This discrepancy is due strictly to roster size, with softball teams holding rosters of 15 while baseball will have 24.
“The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realise their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games – the world’s greatest sporting stage – and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life.” said Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo 2020 President.
No sports are expected to get axed as a result of the decision, and the IOC claims that current athlete and event numbers will remain “unaffected” by the additions.
None of the future host cities are bound by the decision, and all new sports are subject to review prior to the 2024 games.
According to the Associated Press, theTokyo Games will now feature 33 sports and about 11,000 athletes, compared to the usual number of 28 sports and 10,500 athletes.
– – –
For more on the 2016 Summer Olympics, check out Episode 6 of our weekly podcast:
Follow author: @KyleCants