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, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Olympic Organizers on Friday releasing a list of 26
prospective sports that have applied to be included in the 2020 Summer Olympic
Games here, but a bitter financial spat between the local and central government
has cast a shadow over the quadrennial sporting spectacle, which usually
generates excitement and anticipation among sports fans around the world.
The sports making a bid for a spot in the Games include American football, bowls, chess, dance sport,
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frisbee, korfball, polo, wushu and tug of war -- the latter of which featured in
the Games every year between 1900 and 1920 and, if it makes the shortlist, would
see Great Britain defend its title won at the Antwerp Olympics almost 100 years
But some argue that some sports are never heard of by organizers and some would not have featured in the Games for more than a century if selected.
Toshiro Muto, director of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said on Friday at a press conference that he'd never heard of some of the sports and along with
former prime minister Yoshiro
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, president of the Tokyo Organizing
Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, have intimated that sports that
will require additional stadiums or facilities will likely be dropped.
"We have three criteria in deciding which sports will be chosen. They must be popular with young people, give momentum to Tokyo 2020 and meet IOC standards,"
said Muto, adding that sports that won't require new venues will be given
Mori, for his part, said that there were sports on this list that are not played in
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, and, as such, he reiterated that
money won't be spent on venues that aren't going to attract Japanese spectators.
"There are some sports that frankly I'd never heard of. Sports that appeal to the younger generation will be among the criteria, but we also have to be
mindful of cost. It would be difficult to choose a sport if it required the
construction of a completely new venue," the former prime minister said.
Tokyo's financial spat with the central government over the cost of building the main Olympic Stadium and where the finances will come from, will likely mean
that baseball and softball, the former widely regarded as Japan's national
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, united under the World Baseball
Softball Confederation (WBSC), which have been cut from the 2008 Games held in
Beijing, will return to the games.
Other Japanese sporting mainstays including karate and sumo will also likely make the cut, despite the lack of global appeal of sumo.
The 26 sports will all be ranked by the committee and a shortlist will be compiled on June 22 and following pitches made by the various international
sports federations in August, the organizing committee here will submit its
final proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for approval.
"I think its a shame that because the government's run into financial problems over the construction of the new stadium, sports that are gaining
popularity in the world and could really use the boost of an international
platform like the Games, sports like frisbee (flying disc) and
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, will likely not get the nod from the
organizing committee here," said Sid Lloyd, a notable sports pundit and operator
of international soccer leagues and academies in Japan.
"It's pretty typical that Japan has found a way to include the sports it is best at, like baseball, sumo and karate for example, but outside of the United
States and Japan, nobody cares about baseball
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, as for karate and sumo, I' go as far as
to say that no one inside or outside Japan finds these sports particularly
interesting to watch or support," Lloyd said, quipping that he'd rather watch
endless hours of chess matches, than see overweight, grown men in their
underwear aggressively cuddling each other.
Approval by the IOC has been given for sites of 8 sports, and the venues of 26 sports have been
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, with plans for only 2 yet to be
finalized, but IOC President Thomas Bach has voiced concerns about the
construction and costs of the new national stadium.
The original projected cost of the stadium to be built based on a design by Zaha Hadid, a renown Iraqi-British architect, who also designed the aquatics
center for the 2012 London Olympics, was around 1 billion U.S. dollars for an
80,000 seater stadium that some believe looks like a spaceship and others a
futuristic bicycle helmet. But following Tokyo successfully winning the bid, the
construction costs ballooned to more than 2 billion
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, causing Bach to call for costs
to be reined in.
A scaled-down version of the design was pitched to be smaller and more cost-effective and was priced at a doable 1.3 billion dollars, but those
contracted to build the stadium have said that the actual cost will be
significantly more as the cost of materials has risen and will continue to do so
as long as the yen is comparatively weak.
Builders have, due to the ongoing and protracted wrangling on the issue, said that the stadium may now not even be completed on time and local campaigners are
petitioning the government because they believe that the new stadium has not
been designed "in harmony" with Tokyo's skyline, will necessitate thousands of
trees being cutdown to create enough space and have said that the stadium's lack
of a fixed roof makes it unsustainable for use in the future, for the likes of
concerts for example, with the debt for the stadium's construction likely being
passed on to the next generation of Tokyo taxpayers.
Japan's education and sports minister Hakubun Shimomura has called on the Tokyo Metropolitan government to pay around 400 million dollars of the stadium's
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, which has sparked fury from
local city officials, including Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, who recently
slammed the central government for " behaving like the Imperial Army
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