LAUSANNE/TOKYO: The addition of karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, surfing and baseball/softball at Tokyo 2020 has been endorsed by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board.

Formal confirmation is expected by the IOC Session [congress] in Rio de Janeiro in August for what the IOC has described as “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history.”

The possibility of opening up the Games to new sports was created by the Olympic Agenda process in an attempt to try to reverse a decline of interest in the Games among young people.

An IOC statement added: “The five sports . . . offer a key focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020. They represent a combination of well-established and emerging sports with significant popularity in Japan and beyond. They include team sports and individual sports; indoor sports and outdoor sports; and ‘urban’ sports with a strong appeal to youth.”

Discussions on the event programme among the existing 28 Olympic sports will be resolved by the executive board next year. The IOC has insisted the inclusion of the new sports, while adding 18 events and 474 athletes to the Olympic programme, would not impact existing sports.

The IOC added: “The Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 proposed the new sports in response to the new flexibility provided by Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, to encourage innovation in the Olympic programme.”