PETALING JAYA: Malaysia may be looking at a new sport to provide the medal cheers when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.
Karate is among the five sports proposed by the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee for inclusion at the Olympic Games, raising hopes that Malaysia can bank on their exponents to contend for medals.
The other sports from the list of eight finalists selected were baseball/softball, skateboard, sport climbing and surfing.
Bowling, squash and wushu failed to make the cut.
Under the proposal, a total of 18 new medal events could be contested by an extra 474 athletes at the Games.
Malaysian Karate Federation secretary Vincent Chen expressed delight at the latest news, describing the sport as taking a big step to be a part of the Olympic family.
“The final decision will be made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August next year.
“They will vote on the recommendations, and we hope karate gets it.
“The karate community has been working very hard for the last few years to get the sport in.
“It is one sport Malaysia stand to gain as I believe we will have the exponents able to compete with the world’s best by then.
“It’s not easy as we still have to qualify for the Olympics, but we’ve already started the training programmes,” said Vincent, who also sits on the World Karate Federation (WKF) executive committee.
Vincent added that it was up to WKF to work hard and convince the IOC Congress to accept karate.
“I’m happy the Tokyo Organising Committee have accepted the recommendation to include eight events for karate – two for kata and six weight classes for kumite,” he said.
Malaysia are a powerhouse in karate at the SEA Games and contributed gold in four of the last five Asian Games outings.
Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan, one of the two Asian Games gold medallists in Incheon last year, fought her way to a silver medal at the world meet in Germany last year. The men’s kata team of Hoe Thomson, Emmanuel Leong and Ricky Leong bagged a bronze medal to make it the most successful outing for Malaysia at a world meet.