Sports groups compete to be included in Olympic Games

The Yomiuri Shimbun Many sports are vying to be added as new events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. A total of 10 sports associations beyond baseball and softball — both of which have been aiming to return to the Olympics since being dropped after the 2008 Beijing Games — such as dance, tug-of-war and billiards, are aiming for the chance to be a part of the Games. While the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will complete a review of each proposed sport by September, the efforts of these sports’ boosters have been incredible to watch.
As the measure to add more events attracted such a great deal of attention, the IOC postponed a decision on what new sports they will add to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a decision which it had originally thought it would make this July or August. Now, they hope to decide in August next year.
In Japan, a study panel of experts was launched to narrow down the proposed sports by conducting interviews with respective associations and other measures by September, a deadline set by the IOC.
“We’d like to reach a fair conclusion,” said Fujio Mitarai, the honorary chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), who chairs the study panel.
The IOC will announce assessment criteria for proposed sports as early as June, and it is believed it will include major points such as whether a sport can utilize existing facilities, is popular among younger people and can draw in a large number of spectators.
While baseball and softball are regarded as the strongest candidates, the two sports have a low profile in Europe and other countries. Karate also is sometimes confused overseas with taekwon-do, so even though karate could win the race in Japan, it is unclear how the IOC views the sport.
“We know the IOC has its own ideals, but we’d like to narrow down sports that Japan hopes to add to the Games at the study panel,” a senior official at the organizing committee said. (Read the full story in The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 11, 2015)