All eight sports will now travel to Tokyo in August to present their proposals to organisers ©Getty Images

Sports put forward for the second stage of the application process for Tokyo 2020 Olympic inclusion have been reacting to the decision of Japanese organisers to include them on the shortlist and trying to promote their chances in the hope they will evenutally be chosen. 

A list of 26 International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognised Federations was  whittled down to eight today, representing baseball and softball, bowling, karate, roller skating, sport climbing, squash, surfing and wushu. 

Baseball and softball are widely considered favourites to be added following their exclusion after the Beijing 2008 Games.

Riccardo Fraccari, President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the body set up in 2013 as an amalgamation of the two sports, described the announcement as like reaching "first base" in the inclusion process.

“This is a great day for our sport," he said.

“Today baseball and softball - and the millions of athletes and fans who call it their sport - reached first base.

"And on behalf of WBSC and the entire baseball and softball world, I would like to thank Tokyo 2020 and its evaluation panel for the opportunity to move into phase II.

"Being considered for the Olympic Games is a tremendous honour for baseball and softball, and this possibility of our athletes playing for their countries on the Olympic stage is a shared point of hope and excitement within our sport.”

Baseball and softball finished second behind wrestling in the initial race for the one additional slot on the programme in 2013, with squash third.

Riccardo Fraccari, pictured addressing the IOC in 2013, described how baseball and softball have reached the first base today ©Getty Images
Riccardo Fraccari, pictured addressing the IOC in 2013, claimed the decision to include baseball and softball on the sports for Tokyo 2020 was like reaching first base ©Getty Images

Alex Gough, chief executive of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), claimed the news his sport would be considered again as a sign of continued progress.

"We're delighted that squash has once again been included within the Olympic Games Shortlist and look forward to following the progress of the IOC and Tokyo 2020 committees as they build towards their final decision in August 2016," he said.

"The Olympic Games should be the pinnacle event in any athletes career and inclusion in the Games would be a defining moment for squash and offer our players, who represent over 60 countries around the world, the chance to compete for what would unquestionably be the most prestigious title in the sport."

"With that in mind and as the most demanding, dynamic and gladiatorial racket sport in the world, with the ability to be played virtually anywhere in the spectacular setting of a state-of-the-art four-walled glass show court, we feel that squash would be the perfect addition to the 2020 Olympic Games."

As the only one of those shortlisted to have benefited from showcasing at this week's European Games in Baku, karate also hopes it s in a strong position

“The WKF (World Karate Federation) is extremely happy for having been shortlisted and we all face the second phase fully committed and hopeful on our chances," said WKF President Antonio Espinos.

"Karate is a sport ready for the Olympic Games, and we had the last prove of it little more than a week ago in the Baku European Games.

"We have been touching several times the final objective with our finger tips and now we are confident that it will be our opportunity.

"Karate is rather appealing to the youth, very popular worldwide, universal with 191 NFs members, and with very solid roots in Japan, where it is also extremely popular.

"We recognise the challenges of such a competitive process, but at the same time the WKF is extremely confident that we will be able to show to Tokyo 2020 the significant added value that the inclusion of Karate can bring to these Olympic Games, with on the other side a rather cost efficient participation proposal, that does not require any special venue nor sophisticated equipment.”

Sport climbing, wushu and roller skating are the three other sports shortlisted which were also in contention two years ago.

An International Roller Skating Federation spokesperson told insidethegames the body is "happy and proud to be included in the short list for Tokyo 2020.

They added: "We will go in August to Tokyo to present again our sport in all its aspects and to decide how to continue on our path towards this wonderful goal."

insidethegames understands that skateboarding as well as speed skating have been proposed as potential roller skating disciplines, although neither the FIRS nor Tokyo 2020 have revealed any details.

International Wushu Federation President Zaiqing Yu added: “We’re very excited to be shortlisted for Tokyo 2020, and we will continue our keen efforts to get wushu added to the Olympic Programme.

"This is a good sign that wushu is being globally recognised as a fast-growing sport, and one that’s popular especially among youth.

"Wushu/taiji are also very popular in Japan, so I believe that making the sport part of the Tokyo 2020 Games would undoubtedly add a dynamic appeal that will attract great interest from the Japanese public.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by International Sport Climbing Federation President Marco Scolaris, who described being included in this new shortlist with these other fantastic sports as "an honour".

"All of us at the IFSC are deeply committed to meeting this new challenge," he added.

"Together with our athletes, we can reach new heights.”

Surfing is one of two sports proposed for Olympic inclusion for the first time, along with bowling ©Getty Images
Surfing is one of two sports proposed for Olympic inclusion for the first time, along with bowling ©Getty Images

Bowling and surfing are two new editions to the process, with both sports having benefited from a sustained marketing drive over recent months. 

“Today is an historic day for our sport," said World Bowling President Kevin Dornberger. 

"It is an honour to be included on the first shortlist and we look forward to showcasing the best of bowling in the next phases.

"Bowling encompasses all the core values of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games, as a global sport we have the ability to engage with fans and supporters on all levels.“

International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre added: “The ISA is delighted that surfing continues to be considered for inclusion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"We would like to thank and commend the IOC and Tokyo 2020 for providing us with this extraordinary opportunity to present the virtues and values of our sport.

"This is a significant milestone for our sport and gives us further motivation and resolve to make our Olympic dream become a reality.

“With its youthful values and engagement, surfing has incredible global appeal and a unique and modern blend of high performance, style and culture - traits which we believe would add huge value to Tokyo 2020."

All eight Federations will now progress to a second stage of the application process, incouding the submission of further details by July 22 before briefings to organisers due to take place in Tokyo on August 7 and 8.

An unspecified number will then be proposed to the IOC in September, before a final decision is due to made by its membership at its Session in Rio de Janeiro in August of next year.

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