Baseball and softball are now just one step from returning to the Olympics after Japanese officials recommended that they along with four other sports be added to the program for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
The list, released Monday, had a particularly Southern California feel, with surfing and skateboarding on the list. Karate and sport climbing were also included.
Bowling, squash and wushu (derived from Chinese martial arts) were among the finalists but did not make the final cut.
The International Olympic Committee will decide on the recommendations in August. Approved sports would be included in 2020 but would need to continue campaigning for permanent status.
“Tokyo 2020’s decision to propose our sport is a ‘home run’ and a giant leap forward for baseball and softball,” said Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
The two sports — which are counted as one by the IOC — were dropped after 2008 and have faced a battle getting back on the schedule. They figured to have a decent chance for Tokyo if only because of baseball’s popularity in Japan.
Surfing and skateboarding had based their campaigns on appeal to a younger generation of Olympic viewers.
“Surfing embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the program, helping the Games reach new fans through live action and stunning broadcast opportunities,” said Fernando Aguerre, president of the International Surfing Assn.
The proposals would add 18 events and 474 athletes to the schedule.
Fujio Mitarai, a Tokyo 2020 official, said the potential additions constitute “the best-possible package that will add the most value to the Games.”