The opening ceremony for this year’s Olympic Games is just days away, but the International Olympic Committee already has its eye on 2020. On Wednesday, the IOC voted to add five sports in time for the Olympic Games. Tokyo: baseball / softball (one combined entry), karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. In the case of baseball and softball, the inclusion of these sports will represent a triumphant return after being ignored in 2012 and 2016. The other four sports are new additions, having navigated a Byzantine process to gain Olympic recognition and ultimately win over these contenders like aerial sports, DanceSport, flying disc, korfball, netball, orienteering, roller sports, sumo, tug of war and wushu. According to a report released by the IOC, this five-sport package “includes both traditional and emerging youth-focused events, all of which are popular in Japan and abroad.”
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s new in 2020.
Baseball: Men’s baseball made its debut at the St. Louis Games in 1904 as a “demonstration” sport, an inauspicious and uncompetitive start that foreshadowed the sport’s secondary role throughout Olympic history. Baseball did not gain official competitive event status until the Barcelona Games in 1992, and then lost it again after the Beijing Games in 2008.
A 1991 article published by the Society for American Baseball Research attributes the sport’s low profile to longtime IOC Director Avery Brundage. A staunch traditionalist, Brundage envisioned the games as a place for individual athletes and sought to limit the introduction of team sports. Baseball has also been hampered by its widespread lack of popularity outside of the Americas. Until the late 1970s, it also lacked a vocal international body to advocate for its inclusion. The resurgence of sport in the 1990s and 2000s was short-lived; an IOC vote in 2005 denied it, along with softball, making it the first sport removed from the Olympic list since polo was ousted in 1936. The Washington post quoted then IOC President Jacques Rogge as saying that the vote against baseball and softball “does not disqualify them forever as Olympic sports”. He was right. Baseball’s 2020 bid was boosted by its popularity in Japan. When Tokyo hosted the 1964 Games, a team of American college stars beat the Japanese 6-2 in a single exhibition match.
Soft ball : Much of the history of softball is one of exclusion. International efforts by American and Japanese softball associations to include the sport on the Olympic program date back to the 1940s. A decade later, New Zealand softball organizations joined forces with their American counterparts in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a berth for softball at the 1956 Games in Australia. What followed was a black comedy of bureaucratic red tape, IOC insider baseball, misogynist discrimination and stingy fundraising that kept softball out of the Olympic role for nearly four decades.
In 1991, the American Amateur Softball Association successfully pushed for the game to be included in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in which the United States National Team defeated China to win a gold medal, the first of his three. The vote to re-establish softball for Tokyo 2020 is expected to revive a sport that has taken hold in the Americas, Asia and Australia and gained a foothold in Europe and Africa. In a somewhat innocuous nod to the tortured Olympic history of softball, a June IOC press release stated that the potential inclusion of the sport “promotes gender equality.”
Skateboarding: The sport of ollies, grinds and McTwists made an experimental appearance at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. But given its rebellious roots and counterculture references, it’s no surprise that skateboarding’s possible rise to Olympian status has not garnered universal support. An online petition urging the IOC “not to recognize skateboarding as an Olympic sport” has nearly 7,000 signatures. “Skateboarding is not a ‘sport’ and we don’t want skateboarding to be exploited and transformed to fit into the Olympic program,” the petition reads in part. Although the president of the International Skateboard Federation, Gary Ream, has acknowledged that skateboarding “is not all about competition; it is also a way of life, ”he told the Los Angeles Times in October that stamping sport with the Olympic rings “would not satisfy everyone” but “would come close nonetheless”.
The IOC’s New Sports Proposal explains that skateboarding is “a young and urban sport” and that “the best skateboarders in the world also have a strong digital presence and influence with millions of followers on social media.” Radical!
There would be four Olympic skateboarding events in 2020: street men and women, and park men and women. Here are some pictures of how skateboarding played out in Nanjing in 2014.
Surfing: A true Olympic novitiate, the introduction of surfing to Tokyo will be a decisive moment for a sport that has been criticized several times by the IOC. Fernando Aguerre, president of the International Surfing Association and longtime advocate for the sport’s inclusion, failed to gain support for his sport at the Games in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio. The IOC controversy this time around, the approval. Aguerre endorsed the idea of using artificial wave pools to avoid unreliable ocean tides that could complicate programming. Although the IOC has pledged to avoid wave pool technology in Tokyo at all costs, the prospect of surfers “collapsing into 2 to 3 foot holds” that look like “a chlorine tub” has nonetheless been raised. attracted criticism from experienced surfers who fear the Olympics will ruin everything.
Karate: Loosely translated as “the way of the empty hand”, karate is an indigenous martial art incubated on the now Japanese island of Okinawa. The prospect of the sport’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games in 2020 spawned a 50,000-person Facebook page whimsically titled “The K is on the Way”. The Japanese government has also pushed hard for the inclusion of karate.
But now that the IOC has approved karate, the fight has only just begun. A the Wall Street newspaper An article published last September explored ongoing disagreements over which form of martial art should be allowed in the Olympic ring. While the IOC-recognized World Karate Federation only approves contactless karate, there is also koshiki, which allows “safe contact”, while Shinkyokushin – which has some 20 million members – uses ” a full contact style with sharp kicks and punches that uses minimal body protection. “
The IOC has not yet weighed in on the controversy, but here is a promotional video from the WKF to get you in shape.
Sport climbing: After failing to make its way to the 2013 Olympics, sport climbing – rock climbing that uses fixed anchors and rappels – this time won the IOC. Marco Scolaris, President of the International Federation of Sport Climbing, and Yagihara Kunio, President of the Japan Mountaineering Association, welcomed the IOC’s decision. Indeed, the decision to embrace the sport appears to be relatively uncontroversial within the clifftop community. The IFSC proposal for the Olympics describes four days of men’s and women’s competition including lead, bouldering and speed climbing.
What is lead climbing? For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures from the 2015 IFSC Climbing World Cup held in Chamonix, France:
What is the block? Watch this year’s competition in Vail, Colorado:
What about speed climbing? Thrill of Ukrainian Danyl Boldyrev’s 2014 victory in Gijón, Spain:
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