The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wised up and agreed to bring back baseball and softball to the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Why those two legitimate sports with years of tradition in multiple countries were removed from the Games in the first place was inexplicable, but at least the IOC had the good sense to bring them back.
The fact that the next Olympics will be held in baseball-crazed Japan certainly did not hurt either.
In addition to the return of baseball and softball, the IOC will be adding several new sports -- karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing -- to the Tokyo Games. Karate, skateboarding, and surfing have been long overdue in getting mainstream recognition, and this step by the IOC will provide a big boost.
"We want to take sport to the youth," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "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. Tokyo 2020s 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."
The decision by the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro was the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history. Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary venues installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanization of sport.
The Organizing Committee for the Tokyo 2020 Games proposed the five new sports in response to the new flexibility provided by Olympic Agenda 2020.
The recommendation to give Organizing Committees the flexibility to propose new sports for their edition of the Games was intended to put even more focus on innovation, flexibility and youth in the development Olympic program.
"The inclusion of the package of new sports will afford young athletes the chance of a lifetime to realise their dreams of competing in the Olympic Games the world's greatest sporting stage and inspire them to achieve their best, both in sport and in life," Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said.
The additional sports in Tokyo will not impact the athlete or event quotas of existing Olympic sports or be binding on future host cities. The current athlete and event quotas are unaffected.
The IOC considered a variety of factors when assessing the proposal, including the impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports, and the legacy value of adding them to the Tokyo Games.
The inclusion of the new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes, with equal numbers of women and men for all sports except baseball/softball, which will have the same number of teams but different player totals, because softball teams have 15 players whilst baseball teams have 24. Tokyo 2020 will rely heavily on existing and temporary venues to stage the competitions.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services