Big news coming from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week as the Board announced that the proposal to add the package of five new sports to the program of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was officially up for one more vote. If approved at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August, the change would be the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history, and may actually modernize the notoriously out-of-date institution with sports more in tune with today’s youth culture.
The five sports — karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, surfing and baseball/softball — clearly offer a key focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020. The five proposed sports would add 18 events total and 474 athletes to the Olympic program. Skateboarding would feature two street and two park events, each with 20 male and 20 female competitors, which also helps to satisfy the need for diversity in the Olympics. Surfing would also feature a pair of shortboard contests, each with 20 male and 20 female athletes.
The International Surfing Association (ISF) was stoked about the recent announcement: “This is a wonderful moment for our sport and for the global surfing family,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. “Surfing has incredible youth appeal and a unique culture that would offer huge value to the Olympic movement.”
The package of five sports will now be submitted to the IOC Session. These sports are considered on top of the athlete and event quota recommendations for Olympic sports outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, and will not take places away from athletes in existing Olympic sports. Discussions on the event program in the existing 28 Olympic sports for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are ongoing, and will be finalized by the IOC Executive Board in mid-2017.
The Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 proposed the new sports in response to the new flexibility provided by Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, to encourage innovation in the Olympic program. Olympic Agenda 2020 gives host cities the option of suggesting new sports and events for inclusion in their edition of the Games.
The host city selections are not binding on future Games hosts.