Will New Olympic Sports Be A Turn Off For Fans?

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Written By Mohsen Salami

Five new sports will join the Olympic roster at the Japan 2020 Games as organisers hope to spread the appeal to younger fans.

Baseball and softball were already greenlighted and now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has added karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding.

However, seeking younger fans is also making Olympic competition less mainstream as the governing body goes ever more niche to add sports.

Other recent additions include soccer, golf, tennis and rugby sevens.

Some of these sports have had an airing at past Olympics, such as baseball at Beijing in 2008, while the rest are fresh, new competitions.

Amateur or pro?

The problem for some of these sports is where the line is drawn between professional and amateur participants.

Although some star players, like Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Brazilian soccer celebrity Neymar are lined up, many other pros in golf, tennis and baseball refuse to turn out because the financial rewards are just too small.

Olympic competitors are there for the taking part, not payment and either miss valuable earning time or just as valuable rest and recreation by attending the games.

And the question is just how many hardcore sports fans are really interested in sports climbing?

If pressed, few of the millions watching would have a real problem naming someone who takes part and not many will stay up until the middle of the night to watch climbers in action.

Balancing act

The IOC is involved in a balancing act – they want to make the Games more inclusive, so have added 18 events and close to 500 athletes to the programme while promising to make the event less bloated by cutting the number of events and athletes at the same time.

Sports fans will have to wait to see if the grand plan is working.

Going to the Olympics is life-changing for some athletes and a major fillip for some sports.

International Surfing Association president, Fernando Aguerre, said it was a “game-changing moment” for the sport.

More than 2,000 hours of streaming sport are available on TV from Rio 2016. The BBC is showing around 100 hours in all round virtual reality on an online sport app