Lausanne, Switzerland. Five sports, including baseball, skateboarding and surfing, are on track to feature at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the IOC on Wednesday (01/06) recommended them to attract a younger audience.
The International Olympic Committee now needs to rubber stamp the inclusion of skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing and karate plus the joint baseball/softball bid at its session in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The IOC Executive Board voted unanimously in favor of the proposal put forward by Tokyo 2020, recommending it as a package, IOC vice president John Coates told reporters.
"This is a very good proposal," Coates said. "It has a good balance between sports popular in Japan and those better engaging youth like surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing."
"We are very excited and very pleased. Tokyo 2020 have done a lot of work in the past two years."
Under new rules, Olympic host cities can hand-pick sports they want in the Games to join the existing 28 core sports.
As part of sweeping reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach in December 2014, future Olympic hosts are being offered the chance to bring in sports that are trendy in their countries to boost ratings and attract greater sponsorship.
Games organizers also wanted sports that were already well established in Japan so new venues would not need to be built and add to ballooning costs while also shoring up local support for the Olympics.
The decision over which sports will be added to the Olympics is only for one edition of the Games and they would need to bid again for inclusion at the next Olympics.
Baseball and softball, which will have each a competition with six teams, last featured at the Games in Beijing in 2008 before being taken off the program.
Surfing, with 20 men and 20 women athletes, is expected to take place in the sea, instead of on artificial waves.
Skateboarding will have two street and two park events with 40 competitors each (20 male, 20 female), while karate will have two events (one men's and one women's) for kata and three weight classes for kumite.
Sports climbing will feature men's and women's competitions for bouldering, lead and speed combined with a total of 40 competitors.
A total of 474 athletes are expected to be competing in the five sports.