SPORTS
06/01/2016 08:32 pm ET

Skateboarding And Surfing Are Very Close To Becoming Olympic Sports

The International Olympics Committee is looking to modernize the 2020 Games.

The International Olympic Committee is one step away from adding skateboarding, surfing and several other sports to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games -- a change it says would be the "most comprehensive evolution" of the Olympic program in modern history.

The proposed package -- which also includes karate, sports climbing and baseball/softball -- offers "a key focus on youth" and represents "a combination of well-established and emerging sports with significant popularity in Japan and beyond," the IOC said in a release.

Last year, after the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee proposed adding the five sports, legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk called it an exciting possibility. 

"This is not only a great opportunity for our sport and the skaters, but also for the Games," he said. "It is now more important than ever to preserve the unique culture of skateboarding which makes our sport so appealing and relevant."

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Tony Hawk skates during the Bowl-A-Rama Bondi Beach annual skate competition in Australia in February.

The IOC executive board voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the proposal, but it still needs to be approved at the committee's August session in Rio de Janeiro.

The five proposed sports for the Tokyo games would add 18 events and 474 athletes to the Olympic program. Skateboarding would feature two street and two park events, each with 20 male and 20 female competitors. Surfing would feature a pair of shortboard contests, each with 20 male and 20 female athletes. 

The International Surfing Association was among the organizations that celebrated Wednesday's announcement.

This is a wonderful moment for our sport and for the global surfing family," ISA President Fernando Aguerre said in a statement. "Surfing has incredible youth appeal and a unique culture that would offer huge value to the Olympic movement."

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Riccardo Fraccari, president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, said the inclusion of baseball and softball -- which would each feature six teams of 24 athletes -- would be "the biggest and most exciting international competition in the history of our sport." 

If the package receives final approval, karate would feature male and female events for kata as well as kumite. Sports climbing would include male and female competitions in two separate events -- bouldering and lead and speed combined.

The IOC said Tuesday that the package "promotes gender equality... while also focusing on innovative and exciting sports for Japan and the wider international community."

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