IOC to set Tokyo Olympics program, add street basketball
A concrete mixer truck arrives at the construction site of the athlete's village for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in Harumi in Tokyo, Friday, June 2, 2017. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
GENEVA -- A full list of 2020 Tokyo Olympics medal events will be finalized by the IOC executive board next week, one month ahead of schedule.
Among more than 60 proposals, 3-on-3 basketball is an expected favourite after all were analyzed by an International Olympic Committee advisory panel.
The decision is due on Friday at a board meeting in Lausanne called at short notice to discuss awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosting rights to Los Angeles and Paris at the same time later this year.
"Now that we have an (executive board) meeting on June 9 it makes sense to use this opportunity," the IOC said on Friday. "In addition, an early decision is clearly beneficial to all the parties involved."
The half-court basketball format -- close in spirit to neighbourhood park pick-up games -- once seemed set for the 2016 Olympics. Its bid for inclusion was curbed when organizers in Rio de Janeiro were stretched preparing for just the regular program.
Now, FIBA believes men's and women's tournaments in 3-on-3 are even better suited after skateboarding and sport climbing joined the Tokyo lineup last year.
"Now there is an urban cluster that has been created," FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press. "The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit."
Still, don't expect two-time Olympic gold medallist LeBron James to seek a third title in the three-a-side game which already has a global tournament circuit.
"That's probably a nice dream to have," Baumann said in a recent interview, adding: "Our objective is to have similar and fantastic stars that come out of 3-on-3."
Baumann singled out the famed Rucker Park street court in Harlem, New York, when expressing hope "to see them in the Olympic Games two years down the road."
Adjusting from the NBA game would also be tough, he said: "It's a different skill set. It's really a 10-minute sprint, no coach, so you need to take the right decisions."
Adding 3-on-3 tournaments should add 96 athletes to basketball's quota for the 2020 Olympics, a key test for the proposals next week.
The IOC wants to better appeal to young audiences and promote gender equality, but also stay within the limits of around 310 medal events and 11,000 athletes who must have housing and training venues.
Some proposals are for mixed gender team events and relays -- an IOC favourite -- using the existing pool of athletes.
Canoeing, rowing, and shooting federations would drop some men's events to add more for women.
Cycling wants to bolster its track program which was moved to a velodrome in Izu, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) outside Tokyo.
By setting the Tokyo lineup earlier, the IOC also clears a long-scheduled July 9-10 board meeting in Lausanne to focus more on the expected dual hosting award.
Paris seems favoured to get the 2024 Olympics, with Los Angeles striking a deal to wait until 2028.