Although they won't be happening for another four years, there's already a lot of buzz surrounding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, due in no small part to the city's awesome performance at the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. Along with a new city, there will be some notable changes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, including some new sports being added into the mix.
Baseball and softball will return to the Olympics in 2020, according to the New York Times. However, there's no guarantee that the sports, which were eliminated after the 2008 Games in Beijing, will be featured after 2020.
"What a truly great day for the sports of softball and baseball," USA Softball Executive Director Craig Cress said in a statement. "For softball and baseball to be added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games program is a dream come true for many athletes across the world."
America's favorite pastime isn't the only sport that will be added to the roster for the 2020 Games. Skateboarding, karate, sport climbing, and surfing will also be part of the program in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee announced on Wednesday, Aug. 17. These new additions are part of the IOC's shift to appeal to a younger audience.
"We want to take sport to the youth," IOC President Thomas Bach said after the new additions were announced. "With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect anymore that they will automatically come to us. We have to go to them."
These sports aren't just popular with young people — they're also incredibly popular in Japan, which will be hosting the Games in 2020. Beginning with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, each host city can propose adding sports to the roster that have national appeal — but these new sports will only be required additions for the 2020 Games, and whichever city ends up hosting the Olympics in 2024 will be able to propose their own additions.
"Taken together, the five [additional] sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games," Bach added.
According to the official Olympics website, the IOC considered various factors when assessing Tokyo's proposal for additional sporting events during the 2020 Games. In addition to youth appeal and legacy value, gender equality was a chief concern.
The inclusion of these five new sports will add 18 events and 474 new athletes — each event will have an equal number of men and women competing, excluding baseball and softball, which will have the same number of competing teams but different player totals.
This is exciting news — and not just because new sports will be added. The IOC's commitment to gender equality is already setting a great precedent for 2020.