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IOC adds five sports, including baseball/softball, skateboarding and surfing

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Wednesday afternoon the International Olympic Committee announced that it has approved the addition of five sports for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with skateboarding and surfing due to make their respective Olympic debuts. Also making the cut were baseball/softball, karate and sports climbing. While baseball and softball are obviously two separate sports, their bid was a joint bid hence their approval as a single entity.

However, It “The additional sports in Tokyo will not impact the athlete or event quotas of existing Olympic sports or be binding on future host cities,” per the IOC release. “The current athlete and event quotas are unaffected.”

Baseball and softball were both removed from the Olympics following the 2008 Summer Olympics in Bejing, with baseball having made its debut as an official Olympic sport in 1992. Softball made its debut as an Olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta. While those two sports have prior history in the Summer Olympics, the other four sports added Wednesday do not. Karate joins tae kwon do and judo as martial arts in the Summer Olympics, with tae kwon do making its official debut in 2000 and judo doing so way back in 1972 (judo was part of the 1964 Summer Olympics program, but not in 1968).

“We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us,” IOC president Thomas Bach said of the additions. “We have to go to them. Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it. Taken together, 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.”

There was no shortage of positive reactions on Twitter to the additions of these sports, as one would expect.

Sadaharu Oh backs baseball-softball bid for 2020 Olympics

Sadaharu Oh
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The joint baseball-softball bid to return to the Olympics is getting some help from the home run king.

Japan’s Sadaharu Oh, 73, who hit 868 home runs in 22 years with the Yomiuri Giants, spoke at the World Children’s Baseball Fair in Japan a week before baseball-softball goes up against squash and wrestling to be included in the 2020 Olympics on Sunday. The host city of the 2020 Olympics will be chosen Saturday from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.

“If Tokyo wins the honor to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport, capturing the full attention of our entire nation and others around the world,” Oh said, according to a release from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give the ballplayers and the fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“If the Games go to Europe, baseball and softball’s continual rise there and their strengthening worldwide emergence will ensure there is excitement and spectator interest that will build further to 2020 and beyond.”

Oh cited the globalization of baseball and softball, progress made in the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom as well as countries outside Europe.

“That’s why I believe every major league around the world should find a way to make its best players available for the Olympic Games — and that is why I believe baseball and softball would be the IOC’s best choice on September 8th in Buenos Aires,” he said.

In July, Major League Baseball ruled out interrupting its season to let its players compete in the Olympics if it gets back in the Games. Baseball already has its pre-season international tournament, the every-four-years World Baseball Classic.

Oh joined Jackie Chan in voicing support for baseball and softball, which were cut from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Games. Baseball had been a medal sport beginning in 1992, and softball since 1996.

Key information for IOC session, votes in Buenos Aires