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IOC Backs Off on Naming New Olympic Sports

8 Feb, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Decision about New Olympic Events for 2020 Pushed Back; However, Sports “Attractive to Youth” May Have the Edge

The IOC has made tiptoeing up to the line, then backing off, its own Olympic sport.

While it’s likely the world will see new sports added to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, it’s not likely we’ll know what they are any time soon. A decision to add several new events was to have been delivered by the IOC in August of this year (thereby giving sports aficionados something to look forward to regarding the 2020 Games in Tokyo), but the committee has instead noted it would delay that until August of 2016.

The decision to postpone the announcement was made at a recent two-day meeting of the IOC in Tokyo. IOC Vice President John Coates told the Associated Press that inclusion of new sports will be voted on at the IOC session in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

"While we were thinking originally the additional events timetable could be completed in July (2015), that is too ambitious," Coates said. "In the interest of transparency, that is too tight a timetable."

While the world may not yet know what sports are likely to be added to the roster, there is a great deal of speculation about the sports that will be included. Among those campaigning are squash, karate, roller sports, skateboarding, surfing, wushu, rock climbing, baseball/softball, and billiards and snooker.

Organizers of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, who also briefed the IOC on several venue changes for the 2020 games, said they have formed their own "additional event program panel" to study the proposed new sports, according to the Associated Press. That panel will hold its first meeting next week, and a spokesperson has said the panel has already consulted with a number of sports federations.

The IOC will be using different criteria to choose sporting events. The new sports, said Coates, should support “universality and gender equality,” but also be appealing to young viewers and attendees.

“The IOC will also consider an up and coming sport that is gaining in popularity especially with youth," he said.

Cost, as well as relevance to both spectators and sponsors – youth enthusiasm and viewership is likely to be important to the latter -- will be important factors in the decision. In an effort to keep costs under control, the IOC may be more inclined to include events for which there are existing facilities in and near Tokyo. Baseball and softball facilities, do exist in Japan; however, it may be too soon for the IOC to add an excluded sport back into the Games.

Tokyo has promised the IOC a “safe and compact” Summer Olympic Games. The Japanese city won the bid for the 2020 Games over Madrid, Spain and Istanbul, Turkey.

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