2020 Tokyo Olympic Committee recommends adding baseball and softball

Mon 28 Sep 2015

The Organising Committee for the Tokyo Olympics has recommended that baseball and softball, along with four other sports, be added to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games. 

These recommendations will require ratification by the IOC Executive Committee in December 2015 and the IOC Congress in August 2016, but both meetings are expected to agree to Tokyo’s proposals. It is now virtually certain that baseball and softball will be included in the Tokyo Olympics along with disciplines from karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing.

The changes have come about because the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms, passed in December 2014, included the possibility that new sports could be proposed for the Olympic programme by each host city. 

Baseball and softball are hugely popular and significant sports in Japan and across Asia, and have been favourites to be returned to the Olympic programme ever since Tokyo was announced as the host city for the 2020 Games. 

Baseball was an Olympic sport from 1992 in Barcelona through the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and women’s fastpitch softball was on the programme from 1996 through 2008. Both sports were scheduled to be dropped from the Olympic programme after Beijing following a vote at an IOC Congress in Singapore in 2005, with softball failing to remain by a single vote and baseball by four votes.
 

British reaction

BBF President Earl Dix and BSF President Stella Ackrell have issued the following statement:

“On behalf of British Baseball and Softball, we are thrilled to learn of Tokyo 2020’s plans to return our sports to the Olympic programme.  Baseball and softball rank among the most popular international sports in the world in terms of the number of countries and players that participate, and now the Olympics will become, once again, the pinnacle showcase for professional and amateur baseball and softball players from every continent.

“In particular, the decision to return women’s fastpitch softball to the programme will see an additional 90 women competing in the Olympics, helping to fulfil an Olympic Charter aim of increasing female participation. With the profile and importance of women’s sport on the rise in Britain and elsewhere, the reinstatement of a women’s sport to the Olympics is a particularly important step to have taken.

“The dream of representing Great Britain at an Olympic Games reaches into the lives of thousands of young boys and girls, and will once again become an aspiration for young players in our national teams and Academy programmes.”


Unknowns

Because of the need to restrict the number of athletes in the Olympic Games, the baseball and softball tournaments to be played in Tokyo will consist of teams from just six countries, as opposed to the eight countries that competed in past Olympics.

There is uncertainty around whether the reinstatement of baseball and softball will be for just one Olympics, or whether its place on the programme can be extended.

There are also uncertainties around the qualifying processes for Tokyo, with announcements yet to be made on this subject by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

But those are matters of detail.  Players, parents, coaches, managers and administrators around the world have received a huge boost from the news that baseball and softball are virtually certain to be back in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, with all the benefits that this can bring to the sports.

In Britain, with this result anticipated, the job has already begun of shaping our Academy, High Performance Academy and national team programmes to give us the best possible chance of being the country that represents Europe at the 2020 Olympic Games.

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