Surfing Lead Charge for 2020 Olympic Inclusion

Sports such as skateboarding and surfing will have their chance to impress the International Olympic Committee later this year as they push to be included at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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They are the two sports on a list of eight that seem to fit the IOC’s towards more youth-oriented, gender-equality pursuits.

The success of BMX racing and mountain biking in attracting the younger generation to the Olympics could pave the way for skateboarding and surfing into the world’s largest participation event.

The other six sports are baseball, softball, squash, karate, wushu and rock climbing. Baseball is huge in Japan but was dropped from the Olympic program after Beijing in 2008. Squash is already a Commonwealth sport, while karate and wushu are martial arts sports, and the Olympics already has taekwondo and judo.

Steve Robertson, spokesman for the World Surf League, the governing body for the sport internationally and formerly known as the Association of Surfing Professionals, said his sport was worthy of being included.

“It’s more global than ever,” he said. “Basically every country that faces the ocean now has dedicated surfing populations.

“Compared to a decade ago when it was confined to only a handful of countries, today nearly every country with rideable waves has a viable surfing community. Japan itself has plenty of good surfing spots and some fantastic athletes on the WSL circuits in short board and long board, male and female.

“It would be a great place to introduce surfing to the Olympics,” he said.

“The question is why wouldn’t surfing be an Olympic sport, rather than why should it be? We’ve just announced a new event in the Caribbean. We’ve been running successful events in China for a few years now. More than ever we are truly global.”

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates, one of the IOC’s four vice-presidents, is chairman of the IOC’s co-ordination commission for Tokyo.

After this week’s meeting with the Tokyo 2020 organisers, chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, Coates said future Olympic events “must be attractive to youth”.

“Universality and gender equality are key in selecting new sports or events but the IOC will also consider and up-and-coming sport that is gaining (popularity) with youth,” he said.

The next step is for Tokyo 2020 officials to present their plan for new events to the IOC’s 15-member executive board in September for consideration.

Sources: theaustralian.com.au /Margie McDonald

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