ORLANDO--This summer, it seemed like baseball’s chances to be in the Olympics again had died, when the International Olympic Committee added wrestling over sports such as baseball on its future Olympic program.
Now that the 2020 Games have been awarded to Tokyo, however, it looks like baseball and softball, in a joint bid, are likely to be added, thanks to a strong push from the host country Japan.
International baseball officials attending the Winter Meetings said new IOC president Thomas Bach was expected to push for approval of Japan’s plans to have both stick-and-ball sports on the program for 2020. Host cities have some discretion with the Olympic program, and because no new venues will have to be built for the sports in Tokyo, the IOC will not stand in the way if Japan wants to have both sports.
The IOC’s executive board will discuss the addition of baseball and softball at its meeting that begins today in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Japan could very well use its major leaguers and other countries would not,” one official with knowledge of the talks said. “But it doesn’t matter as much to Japan if major leaguers are in it or not. They know if they have baseball and softball on the program, they would sell tickets and they would sell out. They need to start that process sooner than later.”
Combine that with the fact that the United States is expected to put together a strong push for one of its major cities to host the 2024 Olympics, and baseball and softball may have a legitimate Olympic future.