五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Make additional sports events winning hits to enliven Tokyo Games
五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

It is hoped that the new initiative in which host cities pick out additional sports to be held during their Olympic Games will help enliven the Games.

The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday decided on the additional events to be proposed to the International Olympic Committee. The formal decision on the additional events will be made at a general meeting of the IOC next summer.

Proposed were five sports with 18 medal events: baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing. For those athletes in the proposed sports, the increased likelihood that they will be able to participate in the Tokyo Games will certainly be great encouragement.

The implementation of the additional events and new competitions is one of the main features of the Olympic reforms, which the IOC has been promoting since late last year.

These are aimed at enhancing public interest in the Games by adding sports that are popular in the host country and sports in which athletes of the host country are likely to win medals.

Underlying the new initiative is a sense of crisis within the IOC. Due to such factors as local citizens’ opposition to massive financial burdens that are borne by host cities, a number of cities have recently given up bidding to host the Games in turn.

The Tokyo Games will serve as a test of whether the additional events can bring out new potential in the Olympics.

In Japan, baseball is a national sport. As there are many well-equipped stadiums, the overall construction cost of the Games would be reduced. The Tokyo organizing committee must cooperate with pro and amateur baseball circles to promote to the IOC the attractiveness of the sport that has taken hold in Japan.

Cooperation vital

Baseball was dropped as an Olympic event after the 2008 Beijing Games. Its failed candidacy since that time has been due chiefly to such negative factors as top players of the U.S. major leagues not participating in the Games, as the events were to be held mid-season for them.

It is essential for the Tokyo organizing committee to seek the cooperation of the major leagues as much as possible.

The beaming smiles of members of the Japanese national women’s softball team, who won gold at the Beijing Games, have made a great impression. The return of women’s softball to the Games is also a long-held wish in the world of softball.

This time, the strategy of newly establishing the World Baseball Softball Confederation and petitioning, jointly with men’s baseball circles, to the IOC for the return of women’s softball as a Games event is about to bear fruit.

Karate, which originated in Japan, has the advantage of being a sport with a large population of players the world over. For the competitions, existing facilities such as the Nippon Budokan can be used as venues. Such matters as making its rules known more widely will be a task for the future.

The selections of skateboard, sports climbing and surfing were made in line with the IOC’s desire to add sports that are popular among young people.

In connection with the Tokyo Games, the organizing committee has suffered major setbacks over the construction plan for the new National Stadium and the cancellation of the official emblem for the Games.

In order not to disappoint public expectations any more, the organizing committee must thoroughly prepare for negotiations with the IOC as it moves toward a final decision.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 29, 2015)

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