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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium

Japan sports minister to quit over Olympic woes

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s sports and education minister, Hakubun Shimomura, has submitted his resignation due to troubles with planning for Tokyo’s National Stadium, a main venue for the 2020 Olympic games.

Shimomura said Friday that he told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he wanted to resign and take responsibility for the problems. He said Abe asked him to stay in office until a Cabinet reshuffle that is expected soon.

Shimomura heads the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is in charge of overseeing the Olympic Games. He was speaking after an independent panel found he and other officials shared responsibility for problems with planning for the 2020 games.

“It is true that this has caused much concern and inconvenience, and thus I submitted my resignation to Prime Minister Abe,” Shimomura said.

Local media said the report found that decision-making was hindered partly by a council of senior officials, including former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who is president of Tokyo’s organizing committee.

Abe scrapped the original plan for a new stadium to replace one used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in July, saying it was too costly. The design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid raised protests from many in Tokyo who objected to its massive size, cost and ultra-modern shape.

The selection of a new stadium design is due in November. The delays in starting construction have raised the risk the structure may not be ready by early 2020 as promised.

Olympic organizers are also seeking a new logo to replace one that was abandoned amid plagiarism allegations against its designer.

MORE: Tokyo 2020 set to announce new proposed Olympic sports

Tokyo 2020 sets date to announce proposed added Olympic sports

Tokyo 2020
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Tokyo Olympic organizers will announce which sports they propose to add for the 2020 Games on Sept. 28.

Baseball and softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu were named finalist sports to be considered to be added for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on June 21.

After Tokyo officials name the proposed added events from that list, the International Olympic Committee will make a final decision in August as to which sports will be added for 2020, if any.

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

Tokyo 2020 organizers said added sports will promote “the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal” and engage “the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision.”

Baseball and softball, part of the Olympics from 1996 through 2008, are a joint bid and thought to be the favorite to be added for Tokyo 2020, if any sports are added. More on baseball-softball here.

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.

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.

MORE: New MLB commissioner wants long-term baseball pledge from Olympics

New MLB commissioner wants long-term baseball pledge from Olympics


New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is keeping the stance of predecessor Bud Selig that MLB will not interrupt its schedule to allow players to compete in the Olympics, if the sport is re-added for 2020, according to The Associated Press.

“The Olympics are a challenge because of the calendar,” Manfred said Thursday, according to the AP. “They are particularly a challenge when the site is halfway around the world and the date falls in the middle of our regular season.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are slated from July 24-Aug. 9 in five years.

MLB players on 25-man rosters did not compete in the Olympics during the sport’s last stretch on the Olympic program, from 1992 through 2008, before it was dropped.

The sport could be re-added for Tokyo 2020 due to the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms. A host city can propose sports to be added.

“Conceptually, I think it would be good for our game, for baseball generically defined, to be an Olympic sport,” Manfred said, according to the AP. “I know there is some interest in having a baseball event in the Tokyo Olympics because it’s so popular in that particular country. I think it would be a mistake for our sport to make an arrangement with the Olympics whereby we go in for Tokyo and not have some commitment that the Olympics were going to commit to baseball over the longer haul.”

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