Football in the Olympics?
IFAF submits application for consideration in Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Photo credit: Herbert Kratky
Football is among 26 sports being considered for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee received applications from 26 International Federations (IFs) recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) including the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). Cities that host the Olympic games can ask for one or more sports to be included in their games. Japan has a lengthy football history including a highly developed university system (see history section below).
A panel will now review each application and establish a shortlist for a more in-depth review. The shortlist will be revealed on June 22.
Shortlisted candidates will be asked to submit further details as well as make a presentation in Tokyo in August.
After reviewing the applications, the panel will make its recommendations to the IOC by September 30.
The final decision will be made by the 129th IOC Session in Rio in August of 2016.
Other sports vying for spots in the 2020 Olympics include Karate, Men’s Baseball -Women’s Softball and Squash.
History of football in Japan
Japan boasts a storied football tradition. The Japan American Football Association (JAFA) was established in 1934 and consists of three different leagues; 64 corporate-sponsored semi-pro teams, 220 university teams, and 106 high school teams with a bowl game concluding each league.
The Koshien Bowl was established in 1947, making it the oldest championship game in Japanese football history. The bowl determines the collegiate champion featuring the top team in the east versus the best from the west.
The corporate-sponsored semi-pro league launched the Tokyo Super Bowl in 1987 as their title game, but today is called the Japan X Bowl.
In 1948, the Rice Bowl was developed as an East-West all-star game. In 1983, its status was changed in celebration of the 50th anniversary of American football in Japan. Now the Rice Bowl features the champions of the Koshien Bowl and the Japan X Bowl in determining Japan’s national champion.
The Japanese senior national team won the first even IFAF (International Federation of American Football) World Championship in Italy in 1999 and successfully defended the title four years later in Germany. In 2007 Japan lost the championship game on home soil to the United States.
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