By Brooke Bauman
Amid the buzz of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to add five new sports to the 2020 Summer Olympics. Baseball/softball, surfing, karate, skateboarding, and sports climbing will be featured in Tokyo, Japan in hopes to attract a younger audience.
The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, believes that this change demonstrates that the IOC is adapting to the evolving sports arena.
“Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games,” commented Bach.
This is not the first time that baseball and softball have received status as Olympic sports. They were both events in Beijing in 2008, but were later removed due to the cost of building stadiums and a lack of participation from professional players. Major League Baseball (MLB) players have been hesitant to train and participate in the Olympics while their seasons are ongoing back home. Without professionals, baseball and softball could be uneventful for viewers and might be removed after the 2020 Olympics just as they were in 2008.
These five new sports will add 18 events that will involve 484 more competitors. Baseball teams of 24 players, and softball teams of 18 players are not included in this total but will also add several athletes. In order to avoid extra costs, these sports will heavily rely on low-cost, temporary venues or existing stadiums.
For young athletes who play these sports, it is exciting to see their sport get world-wide attention. Student-athlete Katie Characklis anticipates watching softball during the Olympics.
“Softball doesn’t really get a lot of recognition, especially at a professional level,” said Characklis. “It will be great to have it somewhat in the spotlight since people are so excited about it coming back. Also, it’s kind of everyone’s dream to play in the Olympics and this gives softball players a shot too, so it’s nice to know there’s a possibility.”
Senior Claire Murashima looks forward to watching several of the new sports.
“I’m interested in rock climbing, skateboarding, and surfing because those are common in California and the West Coast and they’re familiar to me,” explained Murashima. “I used to rock climb, I’ve been to skate parks and been surfing. They’re fun to watch and also to do because these sports allow you to show personal style and be artistic.”
There is currently no official word as to whether these events will be continued after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but it is likely that the IOC will reevaluate after this trial-run.
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