Although Softball and Baseball lost a heart breaking decision to be reinstated back in the Olympics for the 2016 games, the sports Olympic hopes are not over yet. An announcement today from President of the International Olympic Committee said that hopes of them joining the 2020 summer games is a definite possibility. Check out the article written by the Chicago Tribune writer Philip Hersh on the hopes of Baseball and Softball making an Olympic return.
Two months after being kept off the Olympic island, baseball and softball have officially been given a chance to return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
That is exactly what the Tribune reported two months ago was a possibility.
Wednesday, new International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany told a news conference in Japan the IOC executive board would discuss at its December meeting the idea of having the two sports on the 2020 Summer Games program.
In a story on the Sept. 8 IOC vote in Buenos Aires that kept wrestling in the Olympics, I wrote:
“But baseball/softball and squash, the two bidders wrestling soundly defeated Sunday to claim the one open spot on the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games program, may not be dead yet.
“One or both could be included in the 2020 Olympics, awarded Saturday to Tokyo. There already are proposals to cut events from some sports on the Summer Games program, reducing the number of athletes — capped at 10,500 — and making room for a new sport.”
IOC rules call for new sports to be added seven years before the Olympics in which they are to be contested. But Bach said Wednesday, ”I am open for more flexibility in the Olympic program.”
That Japan already has plenty of venues for baseball and softball and has a passion for both sports undoubtedly will factor into this decision, which may apply only to the Tokyo Olympics.
It had taken just one round of IOC voting for wrestling to get the needed majority in September to retain its Olympic place, with 49 votes to 24 for baseball/softball and 22 for squash.
IOC member Richard Pound of Canada told me immediately after the vote he saw an opportunity for baseball, softball and squash to be in the Tokyo Games
“Baseball/softball for Tokyo would be nothing because they have the facilities,” Pound said. “Squash basically costs nothing. You could have both if you wanted, but you have to act quickly.”
Baseball had been in the Olympics from 1992 through 2008, softball from 1996 through 2008. Both were voted off the program in 2005, with softball losing its place by one vote.
Each made a failed independent effort to return for the 2016 Games before following advice from some IOC members that they had a better chance with a joint bid. Their merged international federation was approved in September making it impossible in the foreseeable future for softball to rid itself of what some see as the baseball albatross.
The refusal of Major League Baseball to guarantee its top players would compete at the Olympics remains a deal-killer in the minds of many IOC members.