Skateboarding, surfing and climbing are among five new sports confirmed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Karate and baseball/softball have also been added by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The five extra sports, which do not replace any of the 28 already on the Tokyo schedule, will include 18 events and involve hundreds of athletes.
Baseball and softball featured separately between 1992 and 2008, but made a joint bid to be readmitted.
None of the other sports have been included before, though surf lifesaving was a demonstration sport at the Paris Games in 1900.
The five sports were all recommended by Tokyo organisers in July and unanimously backed by the executive board of the IOC, which subsequentlydescribed them as “a dynamic and exciting package” ahead of this final confirmation at the 129th IOC session on Wednesday.
The IOC said it hopes the “innovative” move will draw in new audiences by focusing inclusions on youth-oriented sports.
“We want to take sport to the youth,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
“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 2020 president Yoshiro Mori added: “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.”
The unanimous decision to confirm the five new sports was made two days before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Games.
It is a combined bid of men’s baseball and women’s softball as both sports are hugely popular in Japan. Softball is a modified form of baseball with seven innings instead of nine, as well as underarm bowling.
Liam Carroll of the British Baseball Federation said: “I’m excited that current and future players can aspire to represent our country in the Olympics, which fits within Great Britain Baseball’s mission to inspire, develop and perform.”
Having originated in Japan, karate has never been contested at the Olympics. Judo, its fellow home-grown martial art, first joined in 1964, when Tokyo last hosted the Olympics, and has been included from 1972 onwards. The key difference is that judo is a grappling sport derived from jujitsu while karate is a striking, combat martial art.
“There couldn’t be a better place (than Tokyo) to begin our Olympic adventure. This will be a ‘fiesta’ for the entire karate world,” World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinos said.
Street and park skateboarding have been included ahead of other roller sports including roller hockey, speed skating and artistic skating. Its inclusion has been questioned by some as skateboarding does not have a world championship event. But the International Skateboarding Federation president Gary Ream said: `I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world.”
The inclusion is seen as a milestone for the sport given its popularity among young people. The International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said: “Surfing embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the programme, helping the Games reach new fans.”
Last year, sport climbing was chosen by the IOC as a demonstration sport at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. Unlike most Olympic sports, sport climbing competitions see athletes support – even help – their opponents in finishing the climb.
It is seen as the “most innovative” of the new sports by the IOC, involving participants scaling permanent anchors, like bolts, fixed to the rock. According to the International Federation of Sport Climbing, more than 140 countries have climbing walls, with 35 million climbers around the world.
Nick Colton, deputy chief officer at the British Mountaineering Council, added: “Climbing represents the only basic human movement not yet included in the Olympic Games; it brings the missing vertical dimension to the world’s most prestigious sporting event.”
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