Image credit: Yokohama, Japan, Saturday, August 7, 2021 - USA players watch from the dugout as Team Japan catcher Takuya Kai (10) joins the celebration winning Gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Baseball Final at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The 2028 Olympics will have baseball, as the on-and-off again relationship of baseball and the Olympics will once again resume for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
At this past weekend’s International Olympic Committee meetings, L.A.’s recommendations for additional sports were all approved, with baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse, squash and cricket added to the lineup.
This now seems to be baseball’s relationship with the Olympics. If the Olympics are being hosted in a country with a history of baseball (like Japan in 2020 or the U.S in 2028), baseball returns to the calendar. With the 2032 Olympics heading back to Australia, it’s possible that baseball could see a similar host-led addition to the next Games as well.
But ever since baseball was dropped from the permanent schedule by the IOC in 2005, the sport has not been able to get back onto permanent footing. That 2005 decision dropped baseball from the 2012 Olympics in London. It remained out of the Olympics in 2016 in Beijing as well.
That led to a decision by baseball and softball to unify. The two separate sports confederations unified to become the World Baseball Softball Confederation, with both sports being able to complete their tournaments in one week, so that the total athlete and stadium footprint would be reduced.
But the IOC has long pushed for getting MLB players as a key to getting baseball back as a permanent part of the Olympic calendar. The return of Olympic baseball hasn’t changed that dynamic.
Baseball already has the World Baseball Classic, where the world’s best players participate, so it has not felt the need to revamp the MLB schedule to accommodate the Olympics.
As Evan Drellich recently reported, MLB and the MLBPA both submitted letters of support to bring back baseball to the 2028 Olympics. But no decisions have been made on MLB player participation.
While Japan and South Korea have shut down their professional leagues to allow their players to participate in the Olympics, MLB has as of yet not shown an interest in doing the same. With the tight MLB schedule, the idea of shutting down the entire MLB season for even a week (but more likely two) would cause massive issues with trying to complete the playoffs by the end of October.