The International Olympic Committee approved the addition of new sports to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, including baseball/softball, skateboarding, surfing, karate, and sport climbing. Baseball and softball are returning to competition for the first time since 2008, while the rest are brand-new to the Summer Games.
"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," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release.
The decision came after the sports were brought up as potential additions by the Tokyo Olympic organizers, who were allowed to propose new sports for inclusion, but only for the 2020 Games. While there is a chance some of the sports will stick around after Tokyo, for now this is a one shot deal.
Together, the new sports will bring 18 events and 474 athletes to the Summer Olympics, for a total of 33 sports and around 11,000 athletes to the 2020 Games, according to The Associated Press.
Scroll through the gallery for a closer look at the new sports being added to the Olympics and details on what each competition will look like:
The highest-profile addition to the Tokyo Olympics will be back in the Summer Games for the first time since Beijing in 2008.
Baseball is hugely popular in Japan, and that’s one of the main reasons why the Tokyo organizers proposed its inclusion for the Olympics—although this time around, the competition will have just six teams compared to eight from the last time it was included.
"Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics," said Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in a press release. “The [addition] will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage."
South Korea won the last men’s baseball gold medal in 2008 against Cuba, while the United States finished in third place with a bronze. Although baseball is back, there’s no guarantee that MLB players will participate in the Summer Games—the Olympics will take place right in the thick of the season and that could keep some players away.
Franco Carraro, who chairs the IOC's program commission, said that talks with Major League Baseball about players participating are "very open and going in a very good way."
Women’s softball will have a six-team tournament in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games as the sport makes its return after the IOC voted it out (along with baseball) back in 2005. Softball first joined the roster of Olympic sports in 1996.
Speaking about younger athletes in the sport, Craig Cress, executive director of USA Softball, said in a press release: "Their hearts were broken that they weren't allowed to participate for their country at the Olympics in the sport that they had a passion for. Now, that's back. In 2020, it's our job as ambassadors of the sport to put on a great show in Tokyo."
Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut for the 2020 Summer Games, giving organizers hope that the sport will bring in young viewers and extreme sport enthusiasts.
The competition will have 80 total athletes—40 men and 40 women—and they will compete in both street and park events. Along with sport climbing, the skateboarding competition will take place in “temporary venues installed in urban settings.”
"I've always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world," International Skateboarding Federation president Gary Ream said in a press release.
Surfing will make its Olympic debut with 40 competitors, and the two shortboard events will be held at a beach location in Chiba prefecture.
"Our Olympic dream has now become a reality," International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said. "This is a game-changing moment for surfing. With its unique and modern blend of sport performance, style and youth culture, surfing will help deliver something special to the games."
Back in March, legendary surfer Kelly Slater said that he would be honored if he could participate in the competition—even though he will be 48 by the time the 2020 Games roll around.
The World Surf League, which represents over 2,000 pro surfers and holds numerous competitions around the world each year, fully supported the addition of the sport to the Olympics.
“The WSL has worked tirelessly to provide all of its surfers with opportunities to develop as professional athletes and to expand global participation in the sport of surfing,” Kieren Perrow, Commissioner of the World Surf League, said in a press release. “We’re excited by the IOC’s decision and look forward to what it means for the future of professional surfing.”
Karate will include men's and women's Kumite and Kata events and a total of 80 athletes participating in the competition. The sport is making its debut in the 2020 Olympic Games and will be held at the Nippon Budokan indoor arena.
World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinós spoke about the inclusion of the sport in this video.
The climbing competition will feature 40 participants and the events will include the disciplines of speed, bouldering and lead—also known as sport. Along with skateboarding, the sports climbing events will be “held in temporary venues in urban settings in Tokyo.”
“It is a great honor to have been chosen. We thank the Tokyo 2020 Additional Event Programme Panel for this fantastic opportunity and the recognition within the Olympic Movement,” said Marco Scolaris, president of the International Federation of Sport Climbing, in a press release. “Of course, there is still a long way to go, and all of us at the IFSC are deeply committed to meeting the challenges ahead. Together with our athletes and the National Federations, we are reaching new heights.”