Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 19 News List

Tokyo organizers nominate new sports

‘NO OBJECTION’:The organizing committee voted unanimously to propose sports popular with young people including baseball, bowling, karate, squash and surfing

AFP, TOKYO

The organizers of the 2020 Olympics on Monday nominated eight new sports for possible inclusion in the Tokyo Games, including baseball.

The list, which is to be narrowed down in August before being presented to the International Olympic Committee for a decision, comprises baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, surfing and martial arts.

“We have chosen them based on three principles the Tokyo committee has decided,” panel chair Fujio Mitarai said. According to the committee, new sports to be added to the 2020 Olympics should be popular among young people and “add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide,” and their selection should be “open and fair.”

“There was no objection. It was decided unanimously,” Mitarai said.

Both softball and baseball — which are combined in the nomination list — are hugely popular in Japan, where professional teams are avidly followed. The sports last featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Japanese players who make it into the US Major Leagues are fixtures on nightly news broadcasts.

Mitarai said he could not give details of why each sport was on the list, but the inclusion of pastimes like bowling and surfing was sure to be popular.

“One thing I can say is that they’re popular among young people. Many are engaged in them globally,” Mitarai said.

The eight sports have been picked from a long list of 26 that Tokyo 2020 organizers released earlier this month. They included tug of war, polo and the World Underwater Federation — which oversees sports such as free diving, spearfishing and submerged hockey — as well as billiards and American football.

Presently, only federations governing the sports have been named, and each is to be asked to answer questionnaires to help Tokyo 2020 organizers narrow down their list over the summer.

“We’ll submit proposals on the kinds of events,” specifically which sport and what format it would be played in, vice chair Toshiro Muto said.

“We don’t know at the moment” how many and what kinds of events the eight federations are considering to propose, he said.

However, the move has caused excitement among the federations involved.

“Needless to see, we are thrilled to be included on the Tokyo 2020 shortlist,” World Bowling president Kevin Dornberger told reporters in an e-mail. “World Bowling has worked hard over the last several years on our deficiencies and it is paying off. The hard part is coming.”

The International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) said: “FIRS is of course excited and proud to be included in the short list for Tokyo 2020.”

They added: “The Olympic goal is for the roller sports the most desired aim and all our efforts are now addressed towards it.”

The nomination of new sports has become something of a sideshow in Tokyo, where a row is raging over who is going to pay for the centerpiece venue.

Tokyo officials have balked at central government demands that the city contribute about US$400 million toward the cost of the new National Stadium.

Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe has accused the national administration of “behaving like the Imperial Army,” and said hints that legislation could be passed allowing the central government to order Tokyo to pay would be “unconstitutional.”

Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura has proposed scaling back stadium plans, including scrapping the retractable roof, in a bid to control escalating costs.

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