With the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics just hours away, the International Olympics Committee voted on Wednesday to incorporate five new sports into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The 129th IOC session in Rio de Janeiro came to the monumental decision to include baseball/softball, skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, and karate on the next Summer Olympic ticket.
The decision came in response to the new flexibility provided by the Olympic Agenda 2020, which exists as a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Games. The IOC unanimously approved the updated agenda in 2014. It gives organizing committees the flexibility to propose new sports for their respective Olympic Games and aims to bring more innovation, urbanization, and youth into the Games.
The Organizing Committee for Tokyo 2020 was the first to capitalize on the latest changes when they submitted their proposal to the IOC for the five sports last September.
“The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realize 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 Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori.
IOC President Thomas Bach stated that the IOC wants to take sport to the youth, and that “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.”
The IOC considered the overall impression of the new sports on the Olympic ticket, including each event’s impact on gender equality, youth appeal, and the legacy of the Tokyo Games.
While baseball and softball have appeared in the Olympics as recently as Beijing in 2008, skateboarding, karate, surfing, and sports climbing are completely new additions.
The inclusion of the new sports will not impact the quotas for the 28 existing sports scheduled for Tokyo, but will add 18 events and give an additional 474 athletes the chance to achieve their dreams of receiving an Olympic medal. The Committee acknowledges that it will rely greatly upon existing and temporary venues in urban settings to stage the competitions.
The new sports will not remain bound to host cities in future Olympic games. The IOC and Organizing Committee for the 2020 Games hope that the historic decision will being excitement to younger generations about the Olympics and strengthen sport in society.