By Matt Meyers
February 8, 2006
The International Olympic Committee still has no love for baseball–or softball for that matter.
The IOC rejected a bid for baseball’s reinstatement into the 2012 Olympics in London on Wednesday by a vote of 46-42, and softball fell by a vote of 47-43. Baseball and softball will still be on the program for the 2008 games in Beijing, and they can apply for readmission for the 2016 games in 2009.
Baseball and softball were barely voted out of the Olympic program last July by the IOC, making them the first sports removed from the Olympics since 1936, when polo was eliminated. Baseball was eliminated then by a vote of 54-50, while the softball vote was deadlocked at 52, leaving it one short of remaining in the games.
To be reinstated, each sport needed to get at least 51 percent of the vote in the initial ballot before the reinstatement bid would go to a secret ballot. It would need to gain a majority once again in the secret ballot to be reinstated, but that became moot as neither sport got past the first vote.
“I think anti-Americanism was a factor,” International Softball Federation president Don Porter told the Associated Press. “I think that vote was political. It wasn’t about a sport . . . It hurts our sport and it hurts our athletes.”
International Baseball Federation president Aldo Notari, an Italian, took a philosophical approach. Notari led much of the lobbying effort for baseball’s re-entry as Major League Baseball made little effort on the sport’s behalf. MLB instead has focused its international energies on the World Baseball Classic.
“Of course, we will try again in 2009,” he told the AP. “Life continues. Baseball is out now, but continues to be a very strong sport around the world.”
The news was particularly disappointing to the members of Great Britain’s national team, which had hoped to field a team in the 2012 Games. The IOC awarded London the Games in July 2005, and the host country is allowed to field a team in any Olympic competition.
USA Baseball, which as a national governing body has received funding from the U.S. Olympic Committee while baseball has been an Olympic sport, reacted to the news by holding out hope that baseball’s absence from the Olympics will be a short one.
“Our focus has been to continue to prepare for our Olympic qualification event for the 2008 Games in Beijing, which occurs this August,” said Paul Seiler, Executive Director/CEO of USA Baseball. “Our responsibility will continue to be on the athletes we prepare to represent our country in international competition, at all levels. Additionally, we strive to help ensure that baseball has a chance to return to the Olympic program in 2016.”