LAUSANNE: Bids from baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing to join the programme for the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo appear to be closer to success after an International Olympic Committee panel praised the “dynamic and exciting” package that has been put forward.

The IOC Session will make the final decision on the five sports in Rio de Janeiro on August 3. If approved, the change would be the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history.

In its report to IOC members ahead of next week’s meeting, the Olympic Programme Commission concluded that, taken together, the five sports are “a dynamic and exciting package” that “encompasses both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally.”

The Commission said it considered a variety of factors in assessing the proposal, including the impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports and the legacy value of adding them to the Tokyo Games. The inclusion of the new sports would add 18 events and 474 athletes, with equal numbers of women and men for all sports except baseball/softball, because softball teams have 15 players, whilst baseball teams have 24.

The bids cleared another hurdle last month when the IOC executive board voted in favour of their inclusion. The IOC has stressed that adding the new sports in Tokyo would not impact existing Olympic sports or be binding on future Olympic Games host cities.

The decision on the sports package by the IOC Session will conclude a two-year process that began with the unanimous approval of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reform package in 2014. The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee submitted its proposal for the five new sports to the IOC in September 2015.

Discussions on the event programme in the existing 28 Olympic sports for Tokyo 2020 are ongoing, and will be finalised by the IOC executive board in mid-2017.