Tokyo: Five additional sports, including skateboarding and surfing, have been recommended by the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics for inclusion at the 2020 Summer Games, it was announced on Monday.
Baseball/softball, karate and climbing were also given the thumbs up under a proposal that will see a total of 18 new medal events, nine each for men and women, contested by an extra 474 athletes at the Games.
"This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally," Tokyo organisers said in a statement.
"They will serve as a driving force to further promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal, and will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision."
Under new rules, Olympic host cities can hand-pick sports they want included at the Games, joining the existing 28 core sports.
The final decision rests with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will vote on the 2020 recommendations next August.
Bowling, squash and wushu had also been short-listed for inclusion in Tokyo but were left off the final recommended list, leaving their supporters devastated.
"I know I speak on behalf of the millions of squash players around the world for whom the opportunity of seeing their sport participate in the Olympics has been an absolute priority -- and, like me, they will be heartbroken," World Squash Federation President Narayana Ramachandran said.
As part of sweeping reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach last year, future Olympic hosts are now being offered the chance to bring in sports that are trendy in their countries, partly to boost ratings as well as attracting greater sponsorship.
Organisers wanted sports that are already well established in Japan, so new venues would not need to be built and add to ballooning costs, and popular with youth.
"The IOC is very happy to receive the Tokyo 2020 proposal on the additional sports events to be considered for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020," the IOC said.
"This is another concrete step forward in the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020, showing a new, fresh and very exciting approach to the Olympic Programme."
Baseball and softball, united under the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), were widely expected to be on the list of recommended sports.
Both were previously on the Olympic programme but were dropped after Asia last hosted the Summer Games, in Beijing in 2008.
Under the recommendations each sport would be contested by six teams, with half the contestants assured of getting medals.
"Tokyo 2020`s decision to propose our sport is a `home run` and giant leap forward for baseball and softball," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
Karate has never been contested at the Olympics but was another strong favourite. Judo, another martial art founded in Japan, first joined in 1964, when Tokyo last hosted the Summer Games, and has been included on every programme since 1972.
Organisers recommended a total of eight medal events in karate, the most among the new recommended sports, with two in kata and six in kumite, evenly split along gender lines.
Officials also proposed four events for skateboarding, two each for park and street, and suggested two medals each for shortboard surfing and climbing, combining the three main disciplines of bouldering, lead and speed.
"Tokyo 2020`s announcement today is an extraordinary moment for our sport and for the global surfing community," International Surfing Association (ISA) President Fernando Aguerre said.
"The ISA has been riding an amazing wave in this journey for Olympic inclusion and we are thrilled that Tokyo 2020 recognise the exceptional value and youthful lifestyle that Surfing can bring to the 2020 Games."