By Barry Janoff
June 8, 2015: The International Olympic Committee has approved several new events for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in the areas of snowboarding, Alpine skiing, speed skating and curling.
Supporters of baseball's return to the Olympic Games see that as a move in the right direction.
According to the IOC, the new Winter Games program would "allow for a record number of female events, a record number of mixed events, a record number of female athletes and a projected increase in the overall female participation rates at the Olympic Winter Games."
The change also builds on the reforms outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020, which "aim to create more flexibility in the program of the Olympic Games (and create) a new framework of considerations, including the introduction of a recommended cap of approximately 2,900 athletes and 100 events for the Olympic Winter Games," according to the IOC.
The approval of these competitions, which came on Monday (June 8) during a meeting of the IOC executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland, could be a positive sign for those hoping to restore to the Olympics the sports of baseball and softball. The two events, long-time part of the Games, have not been in the Summer Games since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Baseball and softball did not get enough votes for reinstatement in 2013, when they were being considered for the 2016 Rio Games.
Supporters of baseball and softball — led by the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation — see the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as a strong open door possibility, due largely to Japan's significant involvement in the sports.
"The changes reflect the continued evolution of the Winter Olympic program and build on the success of recent editions of the games."
The IOC said a decision on the 2020 program would come in August 2016, prior to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro (Aug. 5-21).
The 2018 Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 9-25.
Among the competitions to be included in the 2018 Winter Games are Big Air (in snowboarding, replacing the parallel slalom event), mass start i(speed skating), mixed doubles (curling) and a team skiing event.
The changes were made in conjunction with the international federations that oversee the respective sports on a global basis, as well as the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
The IOC said that these changes and potential event changes for future Winter and Summer Games are considered "according to the following criteria: added value; youth appeal; attractiveness for TV, media and the general public; gender equality; minimum impact on the number of events and/or quotas; and infrastructure and operational cost and complexity."
"The changes reflect the continued evolution of the Winter Olympic program and build on the success of recent editions of the games," according to a statement from the IOC. "They also build on the reforms outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020 which aim to create more flexibility into the Olympic program of the Olympic Games."
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