2020 Olympics: Softball and Baseball come closer to inclusion

2020 Olympics: Softball and Baseball come closer to inclusion
Jennie Finch, US Olympian and Chicago Bandits softbal

There’s more than a chance that a new ruling by the IOC will allow Olympic softball and baseball in Tokyo, Japan, who’s hosting the 2020 Olympics.

I’ve been following the saga of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reinstating softball and baseball to the Olympics for nearly four years now.  I’ve interviewed Jennie Finch on the topic extensively, along with players like the Chicago Bandits‘ Monica Abbott, who was there during the final, silver-medal run in 2008 in Beijing.

European interests closed them down after that Olympics. They came awfully close to reinstatement in 2013, but lost out to wrestling.

They all stated they want softball (and baseball) back in the Olympics. Both sports took a hit in sponsorship money and consequently, revenue.

Graham Hays of ESPNW writes that the path for both softball and baseball, which now operate under the collective governing umbrella of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, to reclaim a place in the Olympic program for the 2020 Tokyo Games

As reported by Hays, it’s a byproduct of new German IOC President Thomas Bach’s larger reform agenda:

Where the Olympics were previously limited to a set number of sports, Bach proposed, and the IOC this week passed, an event-based system that caps only the total number of athletes.

The reforms also included a provision for organizing committees to “make a proposal for the inclusion of one or more additional events on the Olympic programme for that edition of the Olympic Games.”

Graham Hays, ESPNW columnist, regarding IOC reforms

In other words, organizers can request the inclusion of a sport that is not on the Olympic program.

“Even in my wildest dreams I would not have expected this. It showed the great determination of the members for these reforms. That it would go like this was a very, very positive surprise.” 

IOC President Thomas Bach to the Associated Press, on the adoption of his “Olympic Agenda 2020” program.

And with hundreds of baseball fields ripe for North American/European players, it’s very likely that Japanese softball players, who beat Abbott and the Americans for the last gold medal at the Olympics, would like another shot at a gold medal.

Finch expressed delight, tweeting after the announcement:

“On our way softballers – @Olympics Dream coming back!” #2020 #Tokyo RT @WBSC

With the approval of the IOC, it’s now up to the host nation…the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC). Of the possible inclusion of softball and baseball for the 2020 Olympics, well, according to the JOC, they’re reviewing proposals:

“The sports federations affiliated with the JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) have realized that there is a possibility for adding an event or events under their jurisdiction and therefore they have come up with a request to the JOC. We will be reviewing these requests in a fair way and we will be judging according to the criteria presented by the IOC.”

Tsunekazu Takeda, an IOC member from Japan, to the Associated Press.

Your move, Tokyo! The world awaits your request.


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