Jiji PressRIO DE JANEIRO (Jiji Press) — The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday approved the addition of a total of 18 events in five sports, including baseball/softball, for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The decision was made unanimously at the IOC’s 129th Session that started on Tuesday for a three-day run in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games in the Brazilian city on Friday.
Baseball for men and softball for women will make their comeback to the Olympics after they were last played in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
The four other sports — karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing — were adopted for the first time.
It is a great pleasure to see the five sports added for the Tokyo Olympics, said Yoshiro Mori, former prime minister and now head of the organizing committee of the 2020 Games.
Tokyo hopes that the 2020 Games, through the five sports, will show how the quadrennial sporting event should be in the future, he said.
But baseball and softball face a lot of challenges.
For baseball, for example, it remains uncertain whether U.S. Major League Baseball players will participate in the 2020 Olympics. At the IOC Session, some members expressed concerns about the possible absence of top-class baseball players.
At present, only six teams each are seen competing in baseball and softball.
Venues for the five sports will be decided at an IOC executive meeting in December.
Yokohama Stadium, the home field for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a professional baseball team, is a candidate site for baseball and softball. The ballpark is in Yokohama.
The Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward is a candidate venue for karate. Other candidate venues include the Tsurigasaki Kaigan beach in the town of Ichinomiya in Chiba Prefecture for surfing, and the Aomi area of the Odaiba waterfront district in Tokyo for skateboarding and sport climbing.
Mori sounded positive about holding baseball and softball games in areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that mainly struck the Tohoku region.
In Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, new governor of the Japanese capital, said that she is happy the five sports were added for the 2020 Games. The Tokyo metropolitan government will continue working with the organizing committee for the success of the Olympics, she said.