BERLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Billiards and snooker on Thursday launched an unexpected bid to win a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics sports programme, saying sharp global rise in popularity helped their case.
The programme for the Tokyo Games has already been agreed with organisers and the International Olympic Committee and any late inclusion would have to be preceded by a request from the organisers.
The IOC changed its rules in December to allow new sports to enter the Games more easily to freshen up the programme.
Tokyo is set to benefit from the rule change, with baseball and softball seen as favourites to be named for inclusion due to the sports' popularity in Japan.
"Four years ahead of its original target, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has engaged heavily in working alongside the World Confederation of Billiard Sports on a bid for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo," snooker's world governing body said in a statement.
"The WPBSA and WCBS have this week submitted a bid outlining their case as to why billiards sports should be part of the programme for 2020 Tokyo," it said.
Tokyo Games chief Yoshiro Mori told reporters in December he would not drag the issue out to avoid speculation and would have some indication of which sport or sports to propose for inclusion by the time of an IOC project review in February. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Justin Palmer)