Baseball and softball, which are considered one sport, make their return for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The IOC also approved karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing as new sports as part of its IOC Session in advance of the Rio Olympics.
The decision marks a shift for the Olympics, with skateboarding and sport climbing expecting their venues to be used by the public between competitions. Surfing would include a festival with music around its competition.
“We have a real vision around what these new sports will add to the mix for Tokyo 2020, and it’s a vision that isn’t just limited to these five sports but what we want the Olympic program to do, what we want sport to be in the future of the Olympic Games,” said Kit McConnell, the IOC’s sports director. “In many ways, the sports that have come in signal a vision for how we want to present sport and how we want to use sport to engage at future Olympic Games.”
Amid that, concerns remained about sustainability of the sports and whether the best players — particularly in baseball — would be available to compete in the Games.