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Baseball-softball, four more sports take next step toward Olympics

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic leaders have recommended the addition of baseball-softball and four other sports to the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

IOC executive board member C.K. Wu tells The Associated Press that the board backed the proposed inclusion of the combined baseball-softball bid, as well as surfing, karate, skate boarding and sport climbing.

The decision, which was widely expected, came Wednesday on the opening day of a three-day board meeting in Lausanne.

The five sports were presented as a package.

The recommendation will go to a vote of the full International Olympic Committee at its general assembly in Rio de Janeiro in August on the eve of the Summer Games.

IOC vice president John Coates says the executive board was unanimous in its decision to recommend the addition of five sports to the program of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He says baseball-softball, surfing, karate, skateboarding and sport climbing were approved as a single package on Wednesday. They will be presented that way when the recommendation is put to a vote at the IOC general assembly in Rio de Janeiro in August on the eve of the Summer Games.

Coates says the five represent a “good balance between sports that are very popular in Japan and those better engaging youth.”

He notes that baseball and softball have a huge following in Japan, and karate has a long tradition in the country.

Coates says sport climbing is an emerging sport in Europe, surfing offers a “whole new culture” to the Olympics and skateboarding is particularly appealing to youth.

Coates said the IOC’s recommendation follows an agreement between the International Roller Skating Federation and the International Skateboarding Federation. He says the ISF will run the sport at the Olympics.

MORE: Baseball qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games would be tricky

Yuzuru Hanyu to miss Japan Figure Skating Championships

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Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world figure skating champion, will miss his national championships this week after suffering ankle and knee injuries this fall, according to Japanese media citing the Japan Skating Federation.

Hanyu can (and very likely will) be named to Japan’s three-man Olympic team despite missing nationals.

Hanyu has reportedly been off the ice for more than one month since a Nov. 9 practice fall.

“It is an important selection competition, and the Olympics are a big goal, so with that in mind we would like to think things through together,” Japan Skating Federation director Yoshiko Kobayashi said last week, according to Kyodo News.

Hanyu, who turned 23 on Dec. 7, fell on a quadruple Lutz attempted and then favored his right ankle in a Nov. 9 practice at a Grand Prix event (video here).

He skated the run-through for his free skate, although he elected not to do any more jumps.

“I have been told by the doctor that I need 10 days of complete rest,” Hanyu said in a statement on Nov. 12, according to Kyodo. “Following that, it will take three to four weeks to return and get back to where I was.”

Hanyu and world silver medalist Shoma Uno are favored to lead Japan’s Olympic men’s figure skating team. The third spot is likely to go to Takahito Mura or Keiji Tanaka.

Hanyu competed twice this season.

He posted a world-record short program score in his debut at a small September event in Canada, but struggled to fifth place in the free skate and finished second overall behind two-time world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.

He then finished second to U.S. champion Nathan Chen at the first Grand Prix event of the season in Moscow in October.

Chen is the only undefeated male singles skater this season.

Hanyu won four straight national titles before missing last season’s event with the flu.

He was still named to Japan’s team for worlds, where he won his second title in four years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Green Bay Packers pull another Olympic sport TD celebration

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We’re halfway to a decathlon of Olympic sport touchdown celebrations over the last two seasons.

After the hurdles, the long jump, the bobsled and the relay came the race walk on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, once part of a three-man bobsled team, led three other teammates in a race walk after scoring in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. (Adams later left the game with a concussion.)

Adams won the race walk, which was much, much shorter than the standard Olympic distances of 20km and 50km, over teammates Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb and Geronimo Allison.

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