TOKYO • Five additional sports - baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing - have been recommended by the organisers for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Under the proposal, a total of 18 new medal events, nine each for men and women, would be contested by an extra 474 athletes at the Games.
Under new rules, Olympic host cities can hand-pick sports they want to see contested at the Games, although the final decision rests with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will vote on the 2020 recommendations next August.
Bowling, squash and wushu had also been shortlisted for inclusion in Tokyo but were left off the final recommended list.
"This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally," the Tokyo organisers said in a statement.
SPORTS NOT RECOMMENDED
"They will serve as a driving force to further promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal, and will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision."
As part of reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach last year, future Olympic hosts are now being offered the chance to bring in sports popular in their countries to boost ratings and attract greater sponsorship.
Organisers wanted sports already popular with Japanese youth so new venues would not need to be built and add to ballooning costs.
"Each of the eight shortlisted international federations amply demonstrated their potential to add to the value of the Games and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to each of them for their outstanding efforts," Fujio Mitarai, chair of the additional event programme panel, said in a statement.
"... our proposal constitutes the best possible package that will add the most value to the Games."
News of the recommendation was greeted with elation around the world among the five sports which were chosen.
In Singapore, Jeffeury Tan, president of the Singapore Baseball and Softball Association, said: "Of course we will have to wait for the official list, but we stand a good chance of being included at the Tokyo Olympics because of the popularity of the sport in Japan.
"They will definitely fill out the stadiums there and I hope that will convince the committee."
There was huge disappointment, however, among those whose sports are not being considered for inclusion.
For instance, Narayana Ramachandran, head of the World Squash Federation, said he was devastated for the sport's millions of followers after squash was overlooked for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Woffles Wu, president of the Singapore Squash Rackets Association, added: "Squash is one of the more physically and mentally demanding sports and seeing it being omitted does not seem right.
"I think having squash in the Olympics would have been an icing on the cake. The way the sport is going, I think it is only a matter of time before that happens."