By Karolos Grohmann
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Venues for the five new sports to be introduced at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were finalised on Tuesday following approval by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Tokyo Games chief Yoshiro Mori told reporters.
Baseball and softball will be held at the Yokohama Stadium, the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo will be the site of the karate competitions, while temporary facilities in the capital will house the sports climbing and skateboarding competitions.
The Chiba province and its coastline will host surfing.
“Our proposals were confirmed and approved by the IOC,” Mori said. “They appreciated our progress and gave us a very good evaluation.”
The five new sports will make a one-off appearance at the Games after being chosen by the hosts under new IOC rules.
Organizers are also discussing with the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) hosting some matches in Fukushima prefecture, site of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Mori said he had not discussed the issue of Fukushima with the IOC during their meeting on Wednesday.
Organizers and the IOC are hoping the five sports will attract a younger generation of viewers and fans as well as sponsors and rejuvenate the Games’ sports program.
“WBSC is delighted with the decision of the IOC… to confirm Yokohama Stadium as a main venue,” said the sports’ confederation president Riccardo Fraccari.
“Yokohama Stadium with its downtown skyline will provide a spectacular backdrop for Olympic baseball and softball – this is an exciting day that takes baseball and softball one step closer on the historic road to Tokyo 2020.”
Tokyo was picked by the IOC as a safe choice to host the world’s biggest multi-sports event but organizers have been struggling with mounting costs.
Price tags for many venues have soared since Tokyo won the race in 2013, which organizers blame on increased construction costs after the earthquake and tsunami five years ago.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris)