Five New Sports to be Included in Tokyo 2020 Olympics: What it Means to ASBA

With the recent announcement that the IOC’s executive board had announced the five new sports to be hosted at Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Games, the sports facility construction world was on notice regarding a few trends that might affect the industry. And with those five sports finalized (but still to be voted on by the IOC membership during the Olympics in Rio this August, although this is looked upon as merely a formality since all five sports will be voted upon as one unit), it’s time to consider each sport and what its inclusion could mean for future construction:

Baseball and softball: There are already plenty of facilities for both of these sports in the U.S.; what may be interesting is whether colleges, school districts, municipalities and more work on expanding or upgrading facilities. Participation in both sports is already strong, but count on the governing bodies to put a heavier emphasis on them. (MLB previously noted it would not allow its players to leave the season to participate in the Olympics, so it will be interesting to see if there are any changes of heart in this respect.)

Karate: The inclusion of karate will certainly mean more visibility for the sport and thus, the growth of more programs; it may also mean more indoor facilities checking the sport’s rules to learn about what it takes to host competitions. Updates of facilities could also be in the works.

Sport Climbing: While traditional rock climbing takes place outdoors, count on more rock gyms to spring up, and more health clubs to add climbing walls to their facilities. USA Climbing is the governing body here, and lists disciplines including bouldering, collegiate, sport and speed climbing, as well as adaptive climbing.

Skateboarding: While USA Roller Sports is the national governing body of all things related to skating in the U.S., expect plenty of input here from the International Association of Skateboard Companies, Skate Park Association International and others. In fact skateboarding, with its counter-culture vibe, is one of those sports that everyone thought might not make the Olympics, simply because there were so many disparate organizations vying for control of the lobby. The International Roller Sports Federation’s (FIRS) took the lead in working toward the sport’s inclusion; however, two other bodies, the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) and the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF), expressed their interest in being involved as well. With four years to go, there appears to be plenty of time to work out a compromise on the governance of the sport. In the meantime, construction and renovation of skate parks are sure to see an uptick as publicity ramps up.

Surfing: Admittedly, not a sport that will be much of a business-builder for ASBA members, but definitely something that will drive construction and tourism in areas where surfing is an attraction. (Other related sports that stand to experience an ancillary bounce include windsurfing, wakeboarding, skimboarding and kiteboarding.)

With much of the sports world’s attention focused on the Summer 2016 Olympics, not as much attention has been paid to the five new sports in 2020. But once the flame is extinguished in Rio, count on all the above sports to start working the spin cycle to gain new participation — which in many cases, can lead to more business for ASBA members.

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