Bids from baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing to join the programme for the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo cleared another hurdle yesterday (Wednesday) when the International Olympic Committee executive board voted in favour of their inclusion.

The IOC membership will now vote on the sports at its session in Rio de Janeiro in August following the unanimous backing of the executive board.

“This is a very good proposal,” IOC vice-president John Coates said. “It has a good balance between sports popular in Japan and those better engaging youth, like surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing.”
Yoshiro Mori, the head of Tokyo 2020, which selected the sports to be included on the programme, added: “We have successfully passed the first gate. I am very happy with this result.”

“We are looking at a natural beach for surfing,” IOC sports director Kit McConnell told the Reuters news agency. “Japan has a number of strong surfing areas and strong existing surfing culture.” International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre (pictured) said: “This is a wonderful moment for our sport and for the global surfing family.”

McConnell added that skateboarding will have two street and two park events with 40 competitors each – 20 men and 20 women.

World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said: “It is an honour for our global sport... to be represented within this new and innovative youth-focused Olympic sports package. Olympic baseball and softball in Japan would be the biggest and most exciting international competition in the history of our sport, and would help the Olympic Games touch the entire host nation and worldwide community.”

Karate will have two events in the kata discipline and three weight classes in kumite. Sports climbing will feature men's and women's competitions for bouldering, lead and speed combined.