(ATR) Baseball and softball heads the list of eight sports shortlisted for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The organizing committee on Monday announced the IOC-recognized international federations proposing additional events for the Games. A total of 28 sports are already on the program.
On the shortlist are baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu.
"I'm delighted that there is a very strong international interest for the Tokyo 2020 Games," Fujio Mitarai, honorary president of Tokyo 2020, told a media briefing in the Japanese capital.
He noted that Tokyo 2020 will use three factors to determine which sports to admit to the program. Promoting the overall Olympic movement and youth initiatives, adding value to the Games by engaging the Japanese and worldwide audience - "uplifting sports values in young people and the legacy formation" - and having a selection procedure that has "high transparency and a fair method".
Under phase two of the selection process, the sports must now submit further details to Tokyo 2020 by July 22. Games organizers will hold talks with each of the federations in Tokyo on August 7-8.
Tokyo 2020 will propose its final additional events proposal to the IOC by Sept. 30. Final approval will come at the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August 2016.
The eight sports were shortlisted from a long list of 26 federations unveiled two weeks ago.
The sports who missed the cut are: air sports, American football, billiards, boules, bridge, chess, dance sport, flying disc, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, tug of war.
The group of sports were quick to react to Monday's announcement.
World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari said: "Today baseball and softball - and the millions of athletes and fans who call it their sport - reached first base. Being considered for the Olympic Games is a tremendous honor for baseball and softball, and the possibility of our athletes playing for their countries on the Olympic stage is a shared point of hope and excitement within our sport."
Mitarai spoke briefly to media today (Shunsuke Hirata)
A joint bid from baseball and softball missed out on its bid for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics when wrestling was saved from the Olympic axe nearly two years ago. This
time, it is favorite to succeed in its quest to get back on the Olympic program after being dropped after the Beijing 2008 Games.
The WBSC said that during phase two of Tokyo 2020's evaluation process it would show how baseball and softball are "embedded in the culture, have existing facilities and are popular across both genders" in Japan, adding that the sports would optimize youth engagement nationally and internationally.
Alex Gough, chief executive of the Professional Squash Association, which is responsible for the administration of men's and women's professional squash, said: "We're delighted that squash has once again been included within the Olympic Games shortlist and look forward to following the progress of the IOC and Tokyo 2020 committees as they build towards their final decision in August 2016.
"The Olympic Games should be the pinnacle event in any athletes career and inclusion in the Games would be a defining moment for squash and offer our players, who represent over 60 countries around the world, the chance to compete for what would unquestionably be the most prestigious title in the sport.
Commenting on surfing’s shortlisting, International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre said: “We would like to thank and commend the IOC and Tokyo 2020 for providing us with this extraordinary opportunity to present the virtues and values of our sport. This is a significant milestone for our sport and gives us further motivation and resolve to make our Olympic dream become a reality.
“With its youthful values and engagement, surfing has incredible global appeal and a unique and modern blend of high performance, style and culture – traits which we believe would add huge value to Tokyo 2020."
He added: “We are energized and excited to present our case and to demonstrate how surfing is aligned with Tokyo 2020’s core vision as the most innovative Games ever. With the new, cost-effective Surf parks that are revolutionising our sport, we are confident that this is the perfect time for Surfing to step up to the greatest sporting stage.”
Reported by Mark Bisson
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