Olympic Newsweek III – Tempora mutantur

The Olympic Family is growing. I already told you about the new members of the IOC and of course the Refugee Team, with the latter bringing the number of NOCs/Teams participating in Rio to an unprecedented 207. Kosovo and South Sudan will make their debut this year.

But there will be new sports on the Olympic Programme, as well. OK, strictly speaking both Rugby and Golf are not necessarily new sports. Both had featured on the Olympic Programme before, with the USA being the defending champions in Rugby, believe it or not…

If we look ahead just a little further, even bigger changes can be expected for the next Olympics. Tokyo 2020 could see the addition of five(!) new sports to the programme. Not events (e.g. Women’s 3000m Steeplechase) or disciplines (e.g. Trampoline) but really sports. This is based on a recommendation by the Executive Board of the IOC which will be voted upon by the IOC Session in Rio this August, so it’s not 100% safe yet. But if it turns out to be adopted, this proposal would mean the largest increase in the number of Olympic Sports since… hm… no idea… 1908 probably?

It would not only enable Baseball/Softball to make a comeback but also add Karate, Surfing, Skateboarding and Climbing for the very first time. The original proposal was made by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee. Agenda 2020 allows OCs to submit up to five sports for a temporary inclusion, valid only for ‘their’ Games, giving organisers more flexibility, while also allowing them to adapt the Games to their possibilities and their city instead of having to try the opposite way… Future organisers may decide differently, based on the changing appeal of different sports to the public and of course their popularity in the host country.

Regarding that criterion, Karate and Baseball/Softball are no real surprises. As far as the other three are concerned, well, I have no idea how popular surfing, skateboarding and climbing really are in Japan. And, to be honest, as of now I’m not sure whether they are really valuable additions. No doubt, all of them have their appeal, but so do Ultimate Frisbee, Bowling, Sumo or American Football, all of which are quite popular in Japan and played in various other countries around the world…

I think, I will need to take a closer look and do some research before I can come up with a wellfounded opinion. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know!


PS. One of the best parts of this proposal is the fact that no other sports/disciplines/events will be removed from the programme. So there will be no need for a new ‘Keep-Wrestling-in-the-Olympics’-campaign…


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