Tokyo has always been something of a favorite location to envision in the future. Now, even as the 2016 Rio Olympics are getting underway, word has come out about some additions to be made in the list of sports for the next Summer Games in Japan’s capital city that would give the next Olympics a sort of extreme bent.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved of five sports to be included to Tokyo 2020, according to CNN. Of these, four are entirely new additions to the official sports lineup: karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding. The fifth event, baseball/softball, was actually already an
Olympic sport appearing as late as the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, before being dropped from the list during London 2012 and this year’s Rio 2016.
As for the big question of the moment – Why these? – The IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee were very frank in stating that the choices were emphasizing an evolution of the Olympic program in order to get a younger generation of athletes and spectators all hyped for the greatest organized sports event in the world, by getting some of their favorite sports included. The five additions comprise 18 new individual events in Tokyo, drawing a projected 474 athletes to compete for honest to goodness Olympic medals in skating half-pipes, for example.
IOC President Thomas Bach puts it best: “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. We have to go to them,” He said after the announcement of the new sports. “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."
The five sports were unanimously confirmed two days before the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremonies kicks off.
The return of baseball/softball to the Olympics after two no-shows was pushed by the massive popularity of the two sports in Japan. Karate, a Japanese martial art, has surprisingly never been considered for the Games despite the success of its brother of sorts, Judo, which has been a regular Olympic event since 1972 (after a one-off appearance in Tokyo 1964). Skateboarding, both street and park variations, managed to get into consideration for the Games ahead of other roller sports like speed roller-blading, much to the excitement of the International Skateboarding Federation and aficionados looking forward to seeing events outside of stadiums and in city centers. Surfing is also considered a milestone and long overdue choice for the Olympics as an iconic watersport. Finally sport climbing, which was demonstrated at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics, is unique in its nature as the competitors tend to help one another even as they race up the walls to win.
Not everyone is pleased with the new Olympic events however. But despite the criticisms, the fact that these new sports will give upwards to 474 extreme athletes a shot at Olympic medals is welcome news to fans of these extreme activities…and baseball/softball.
Photo Credit to https://tokyo2020.jp/en/