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Tokyo 2020 proposes adding baseball, softball, 4 more sports to Olympics

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Tokyo 2020 proposed adding baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing to its Olympic program on Monday.

The International Olympic Committee will make a final decision in August as to which sports will be added for the 2020 Games, if any. The decision is for the sports’ inclusion in the 2020 Olympics only and not for Olympics beyond that.

“This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally,” Tokyo 2020 said in a press release. “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.”

The five proposed sports (baseball-softball counts as one) make up a total of 18 events (when separating for genders and, for karate, weight classes) and 474 additional athletes.

Tokyo 2020 proposed having six teams each in baseball and softball, which would be two fewer than when the sports were previously in the Olympics in the 1990s and 2000s.

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Those five sports were previously named finalists to be considered to be added for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on June 21. Other finalists not ultimately chosen by organizers were bowling, squash and wushu.

Olympic host cities can propose adding sports for their Games under Agenda 2020 reforms passed by the International Olympic Committee in December.

Agenda 2020 set to limit the Summer Olympics to approximately 10,500 athletes and 310 events (unless otherwise agreed upon with that year’s Olympic Organizing Committee, see Olympic Charter Rule 45, provision 3.2). London 2012 had 10,568 athletes in 302 events; Rio 2016 will have 306 events.

Baseball and softball, part of the Olympics from 1992 (baseball)/1996 (softball) through 2008, have long been thought to be the favorite to be added for Tokyo 2020, if any sports are added.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) said it’s “the biggest sport not currently featured at the Olympic Games.”

“We’ve reached second base,” World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said, according to The Associated Press. “Now we’ve got to wait until Rio [2016 Olympics in August] to get home.”

“The vast majority of baseball/softball’s estimated 65 million athletes in over 140 countries are between the ages of 5 to 21,” WBSC said in a press release after the announcement.

“Today’s announcement by Tokyo 2020 to include baseball/softball into its proposal for additional events at the 2020 Olympic Games is an exciting step forward to hopefully seeing our game return to this great platform,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in the press release. “We look forward to the IOC’s decision in August 2016.”

Manfred has continued the stance of predecessor Bud Selig that MLB will not interrupt its schedule to allow big-league players to compete in the Olympics, if the sport is re-added.

“We’re in discussions and we have a great relationship with MLB,” Fraccari said, according to the AP. “We have plenty of time to discuss before 2020. The important thing now is this choice and that the IOC confirms it. The rest can wait.”

Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing have never been part of the Olympic program.

In 2014, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk said he’d been involved in discussions and was confident that his sport would be added to the Olympics.

“If you look at the success of snowboarding in the Winter Games and how that’s brought a more youthful edge to the Olympics in general, they don’t have that with the Summer Games,” Hawk told Larry King last year. “They don’t have anything that’s drawing in a younger viewership.”

Squash, along with baseball-softball, lost out on being added for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics when the IOC voted to keep wrestling in the Olympic program on Sept. 8, 2013.

“I don’t believe we could have done more to get our message across to both the Tokyo 2020 Games hosts and the IOC,” World Squash Federation president Narayana Ramachandran said in a statement. “I know I speak on behalf of the millions of squash players around the world for whom the opportunity of seeing their sport participate in the Olympics has been an absolute priority — and, like me, they will be heartbroken.

“However, this is not the end for squash. … We will go from strength to strength while we continue to target participation at a future date in the Games.”

The following sports applied for inclusion in Tokyo 2020 but failed to make the finalist list:

Air sports, bowls, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, football, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports and waterski and wakeboard.

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Olympic super-G champion Anna Veith wins first World Cup race in two years

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VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Olympic champion Anna Veith won a World Cup super-G race on Sunday, more than two years after her last win.

The 28-year-old Austrian has been battling back from injury. She went to hospital in March to have the patellar tendon in her left knee surgically repaired. She had returned in December 2016, after more than one year out after heavily damaging her right knee in a training crash.

“It was a pretty emotional day for me. When I stopped in the finish I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “It’s important for me to know I can do it in a race, trust myself. I didn’t race so much the last two years.”

She profited from an early bib number to clock 1 minute, 5.77 seconds on the Oreiller-Killy course.

It was her 15th World Cup win and first podium since third place in super-G at the Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo in January. Her previous win came in giant slalom at the French resort of Meribel in March 2015.

Victory came as a huge psychological relief to Veith who, before injury, was one of the world’s best. She won the overall World Cup title in 2014 and 2015 and also took silver in giant slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“After my surgery I knew that the most important thing was to be in good shape and get my strength back,” Veith said. “My injury was a very tough injury. All the girls know it’s pretty hard to get over it.”

Tina Weirather of Lichtenstein was second in 1:06.25 — her 35th World Cup podium — with Italian Sofia Goggia third in 1:06.28.

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Remarkably, Weirather raced despite fearing she has broken her left hand.

“Yesterday, when i crashed I went with my hand in the snow and it hurt my hand and my shoulder,” she said. “I haven’t been to the doctor yet. I’m not sure what it is right now, but for sure not very good because it’s black and blue.”

She also knows a thing or two about courage.

“I could have just have thought “I can’t do it and given up” but I really wanted to do well today,” Weirather said. “In the warmup it hurt really badly. I thought that with the adrenalin I’d forget about it.”

One race is enough, though, and she won’t be taking part in Tuesday’s giant slalom in nearby Courchevel.

“I can’t, because I can’t hold my pole and I have to get an X-ray on my hand,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’s broken or not.”

Goggia, second in Saturday’s super-G behind Lindsey Vonn, has 15 World Cup podiums.

But only two wins.

Goggia knows what she must do to improve her conversion rate.

“Do most of the turning in the correct way. Sometimes I make mistakes in my performance,” she said. “I have to put that off and just ski right and I think it will come.”

Vonn pulled out of Sunday’s race because of soreness in her knee. Having done the morning’s inspection, the 33-year-old American decided against racing as a precautionary measure. The four-time World Cup winner is flying home.

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Lindsey Vonn pulls out of World Cup super-G race because of sore knee

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VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — Lindsey Vonn pulled out of a World Cup super-G race on Sunday because of a sore knee.

The 33-year-old American did not say which knee hurts, but has injured both before.

She took part in Sunday’s early-morning inspection at the French Alpine resort, but then decided against racing as a precautionary measure and flew home.

Vonn secured her first win of the season and record-extending 78th in Saturday’s super-G on the same Oreiller-Killy course.

“Knee is a bit sore from yesterday so to be on the safe side I’m going to give my body some rest,” Vonn tweeted. “My focus is on the Olympics so no need to risk anything now.”

Vonn did not say when she plans to return. There are only slalom and giant slalom races to follow — not her specialty — until the next speed events in January. They begin with a downhill and super-G at the Austrian resort of Bad Kleinkirchheim from Jan. 13-14.

Last weekend, Vonn jarred her back in another super-G race at St. Moritz in Switzerland.

Her mind is fully on the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea from Feb. 9-25. She won gold in downhill and bronze in super-G at the 2010 Games.

Vonn has battled with injury during her illustrious career.

She sustained a hairline fracture to her left knee in a super-G race in February 2016.

At the 2013 world championships, Vonn crashed in the super-G and tore ligaments in her right knee. She was unable to defend her Olympic title at the 2014 Games.

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