Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are looking to bring more diversity to the Games with proposals for a series of new sports they want the International Olympic Committee to consider. It is hoped that the extra events could help draw a younger audience.
"If those additional events are officially approved, we can gain more momentum toward the 2020 Tokyo Games," says the organizing committee's honorary president Fujio Mitarai. "We expect young people around the world to pay more attention than ever to Tokyo and Japan."
Organizers in Tokyo are looking to the past and future with proposals for 18 events in five sports. They want to bring back baseball and softball, and they also hope to add new sports including karate, sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing.
IOC members have approved a plan that allows Games organizers to propose one or more additional events. Tokyo will be the first host city to do so under the new policy, with sports selected based on domestic popularity and youth appeal. The number of participants in the new categories is limited to 500, as requested by the IOC.
Officials believe they can make a profit from ticket sales if baseball and softball are included. The last time the Olympics hosted the sports was at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Both events are very popular in Japan, and the national teams would have high hopes of winning medals on home soil.
Officials from the World Baseball Softball Confederation are working hard to promote the sports in regions where they are still relatively unknown. "I hope baseball will return to the Olympics, and that it will give children a dream," says professional baseball player Kenta Maeda. "As a baseball player, I'm very happy because this will help the sport to develop," adds another professional, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Karate, a martial art that originated in Japan, is another event in which Japan could make the podium. It is a sport that has global appeal and its World Federation estimates there are 100 million athletes worldwide. The federation has proposed bouts of "kumite" fighting, as well as competition in what is called "kata", where judges score participants' moves and techniques.
"I've been watching the Olympic Games since I was a kid," says Japanese karate competitor Hiroki Kubo. "For every athlete, their dream is to compete in the Olympics. I want to make my dream come true."
Sport climbing, where competitors race up a vertical route, is gaining popularity. Officials linked to the sport say there are about 25 million participants worldwide. They also stress its low cost, with an estimated price tag for the venue around $250,000.
"If the sport is approved, I will try to win a gold medal," says Miho Nonaka, a member of Japan's national climbing team.
Skateboarding also made the cut and organizers hope to draw in fans of snowboarding.
Organizers think surfing could also be a hit with younger spectators and they are eyeing a beach near Tokyo as a potential venue. A purpose-built artificial facility is also being considered so that weather and ocean conditions would not affect the schedule.
The IOC will discuss the proposed events at a special committee, and then at an executive board meeting. A final vote will be taken at next August's IOC general session, ahead of the Games in Rio de Janeiro. The choices could change the course of preparations for the 2020 Games.
source by NHK world