August 3, 2016
The International Olympic Committee voted today to expand the Olympic program by five sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The decision was made at the 129th IOC Session, held in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympic Games, which start Friday.
Making its return to the Olympic Games is baseball/softball, both of which were last competed at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. New to Olympic competition are skateboarding, surfing, karate and sports climbing. The five sports are seen by the IOC has having their key focus on youth, an element central to the vision of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The new sports add 18 events to the competition calendar for 474 athletes. The athlete numbers are equally divided between genders with the exception of baseball/softball, where baseball rosters carry nine more players than softball.
After sporadic appearances, baseball was held as a demonstration sport in 1984 and 1988, then was elevated to full medal status at the Barcelona 1992 Games. The United States won three medals, including gold in 2000 and bronze in 1996 and 2008.
Softball made its Olympic debut at the Atlanta 1996 Games, and the United States was a dominant force, winning the first three gold medals but falling to Japan in the gold-medal game in 2008.