Oh pitches baseball, 8 sports bid for spot at Olympics
Baseball called on Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh and karate used a live demonstration as eight sports made their case Friday to be included on the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Baseball and softball are making a combined bid. The other sports making presentations to organizers were squash, surfing, bowling, roller sports, sport climbing and wushu.
Under the “Olympic Agenda 2020” reforms, the IOC agreed to abolish the 28-sport limit to the Summer Games and instead use an events-based system that would allow new competitions to come in without increasing the current size of about 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events.
Host cities are allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events for their games. After the presentations are finished on Saturday, Tokyo organizers will make their recommendations to the International Olympic Committee by Sept. 30.
The IOC decision on which sport or sports to add will be made in August 2016, just ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Men’s baseball and women’s softball, sports that were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Games, are considered favorites because of their popularity in Japan.
“The Japanese people want to see baseball and softball,” Oh said. “We already have the facilities so we really hope baseball and softball are in the Olympics.”
Major League Baseball has said it will not suspend its schedule, which clashes with the Olympics, to allow players to participate in Tokyo, but Japan professional baseball pledged its full support.
“We will send the best of the best,” NPB commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki said,
Karate, also considered a strong candidate, drew on its Japanese origins to appeal to organizers and took the unique step of providing a live demonstration with three athletes who are all aspiring to represent Japan at the Tokyo Games.
“Karate originated in Japan and embodies the spirit of martial arts,” said Toshihisa Nagura, general secretary of the World Karate Federation. “More than 100 million people worldwide practice karate.”
Other sports such as bowling and roller sports boasted of their appeal to youth and the uniqueness they would bring to the Olympics.