The International Olympic Committee made a big splash yesterday, announcing the addition of five sports to the Olympic Program.
Starting in Tokyo 2020, the Summer Olympics will now include skateboarding, karate, surfing, sports climbing, and baseball/softball.
The decision was made at an IOC session on Wednesday in Rio De Janeiro, and has been well-received thus far. It’s certainly positive news for any fan or athlete in one of these sports.
For baseball and softball, this is more of an Olympic reunion than an introduction. Both sports were part of the Olympics up until the 2008 Games in Beijing. The sport was voted out due to concerns around building stadiums, a lack of professional players, and doping.
Baseball is now officially back in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But will there be major leaguers? Both MLB, MLBPA have been downbeat on chances
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) August 3, 2016
An big issue with baseball at the Olympics in the past was that players in the MLB would not participate due to their season being at the same time. There could be a break in the season added to accommodate the Olympics, but so far nothing like that has happened.
While the return of baseball/softball nice, it’s huge news for fans and athletes of skateboarding, surfing, karate, and sports climbing to see their sports gain a high level of recognition.
Skateboarding has been a popular sport, both casually and professionally, for many years now. Since the X-Games began in 1995, skateboarding has grown professionally and increased in popularity.
Though it would’ve been great to see legends like Tony Hawk in their prime rock the Olympics years ago, it’s encouraging to see this big step taken now by the sport.
I'm already preparing for Tokyo: conducting drills, rehearsing routines, changing diets, and [most importantly] reversing the aging process.
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) August 3, 2016
“Canada is world-renowned for its high caliber skateboarders and with the correct nurturing, we anticipate a strong addition to the ‘Own the Podium’ program we welcome the attention the Olympics will bring to our culture and the platform it will provide for our current and future athletes,” said Kevin Harris, a spokesperson for the Canadian Amateur Skateboarding Association.
Surfing has been around as a casual activity/sport for seemingly forever, but is just now getting recognition as an Olympic sport. Surfing has a deep background both around the world and in Canada, and should be something a bit different to watch for in Tokyo 2020.
“This is an incredible and historic moment for the sport of surfing,”said Dom Domic, President of Canadian Surfing Association. “For a country that has the longest coastline on earth, very few Canadians are aware that surfing has been thriving on our pristine shores since the 1950’s, and even fewer know that Canada is home to some of the planet’s best surf spots and most dedicated surfers.”
Karate is another sport making its way into the Olympics for the first time, which is somewhat surprising given the long history of other martial arts at the Summer Games. Wrestling and boxing have been at the Olympics for seemingly forever, while Judo has been there since 1964. The most recent addition was Taekwondo in 2000.
“The entire Canadian karate community is thrilled with this historic news, and inclusion of the sport of karate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games’ program represents a milestone of immense significance for all karateka across the globe,” said Craig Vokey, president of Karate Canada.
Karate has roots that trace back thousands of years, and will now join the other martial arts at the Olympics.
Sports climbing is the proverbial ‘odd-man-out’ on this list because it doesn’t have nearly the history the other sports do. After all, the first ever world championship for sport climbing was just 25 years ago. That said, the sport has gained interest quickly, and will only grow quicker now that it’s been introduced to the Olympics.
“Competition climbing is a rapidly growing sport in Canada, and this gives our remarkable athletes a great objective to aim for with the opportunity and honour of joining the Olympic family in Tokyo,” said Maria Izquierdo, president of Climbing Escalade Canada.
There is no word of the longevity of these sports beyond the 2020 Olympics, but it would seem strange to add sports for one Olympics only to have it removed for the next. If all goes smoothly, these sports should be here to stay for the foreseeable future.