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Bowling and baseball make Olympic shortlist but American football and tug of war miss out

Sports climbing could also be included.

Baseball could be set for a return to the Olympics in six years time.
Baseball could be set for a return to the Olympics in six years time.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE ORGANISERS OF the 2020 Olympics have nominated eight new sports for possible inclusion in the Tokyo Games, including baseball.

The list, which will be narrowed down again in August before being presented to the International Olympic Committee for a decision, comprises baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, surfing and martial arts.

“We have chosen them based on three principles the Tokyo committee has decided,” said panel chair Fujio Mitarai.

According to the committee, new sports to be added to the 2020 Olympics should be popular among young people and “add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide,” and their selection should be “open and fair.”

“There was no objection. It was decided unanimously.”

Both softball and baseball — which are combined in the nomination list — are hugely popular in Japan, where professional teams are avidly followed. The sports last featured at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Japanese players who make it into the Major Leagues in the US are fixtures on nightly news broadcasts.

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Mitarai said he could not give details of why each sport was on the list, but the inclusion of pastimes like bowling and surfing was sure to be popular.

“One thing I can say is that they’re popular among young people. Many are engaged in them globally,” Mitarai said.

The eight sports have been picked from a longlist of 26 that Tokyo 2020 organisers released earlier this month. They included tug of war, polo and the World Underwater Federation — which oversees sports such as free diving, spearfishing and submerged hockey — as well as billiards and American football.

(C) APF 2015

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