TOKYO (AP) — IOC vice president John Coates is pleased with the “balanced package” of proposed additional sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expects that skateboarding will soon be represented by a single international federation to push its case for inclusion in the games.
Baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing were recommended for inclusion last month by the Tokyo organizing committee.
A final decision on which sport or sports to add to the Tokyo program will be made by the International Olympic Committee next August. Under new IOC rules, a host city can propose the addition of one or more sports to their games.
“Our reaction is that it’s a very good balanced package,” Coates said Wednesday. “We have traditional sports, innovative new sports that appeal to the youth of the world. We have outdoor sports, indoor sports. It’s the assessment of the package as a whole that is very important.”
Coates was in Tokyo as head of an IOC “project review” of the city’s Olympic preparations.
In response to media reports citing opposition among some skateboarding groups to be recognized as an Olympic event, Coates said the IOC will recognize a separate skateboarding federation independent of the International Roller Sports Federation.
“Skateboarding is a comparatively new sport,” Coates said. “There are a number of federations that conduct skateboarding events internationally, and we are in discussion with them, and I would expect that one of the federations will be identified in the near future that we will work with and recognize.”
Coates said that a petition by skateboarders not to have their sport included was likely the result of a misunderstanding.
“I’ve seen tremendous support from international and national skateboarders on the basis that there will be a new federation representing them,” Coates added.
Baseball and softball have been out of the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games, and their proposed inclusion as a joint bid had been considered a virtual certainty because of the high popularity of those sports in Japan.
A recent gambling scandal has tarnished the image of baseball in Japan, but Coates said it was unlikely that would hurt the sport’s chances to get back on the Olympic program.
A pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular baseball team, was suspended for betting on games, including those involving his own team.
“Certainly Illegal betting on games, the IOC has zero tolerance for that,” Coates said. “In drafting the rules for participation of athletes in the games, we make it quite clear that athletes are not allowed to bet on games. … This s a problem that is frowned on in sports in Japan and it’s not going to effect the decision to be taken with baseball.”
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