Baseball and softball excluded from 2024 Olympic Games

Thu 21 Feb 2019

21 February 2019 -- The announcement today of the four new sports that are proposed for inclusion in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has signalled that baseball and softball will not be involved when the Paris Games come around.

The organisers of Paris 2024 will propose to the International Olympic Committee that surfing, climbing, skateboarding and breakdancing be included on the programme.  The first three are set to debut at Tokyo 2020, while breakdancing was included in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.  As a result, baseball and softball, as well as karate, would be dropped from the programme.

Since baseball and softball were introduced to the Tokyo 2020 programme as a one-off, teams and Federations have been aware that continued inclusion in the Olympics was uncertain.  Other impacted sports include squash, snooker and chess, all of whom launched public campaigns to secure a place at the 2024 Games.  Nevertheless, there is strong hope that the organisers of the Los Angeles Games in 2028 will look to put baseball and softball back on the programme, due in large part to the popularity of those sports in the United States.

Great Britiain baseball team standing for national anthem

Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, said the new sports were chosen as they were identified as being innovative, inclusive, urban, artistic, cultural and not held in traditional venues. In particular, he said, it would enable the Olympics to become more accessible to a young and connected generation, helping them be “inspired today and prepared for tomorrow”.

Reaction from organisations representing the excluded sports was swift, all describing their disappointment. As the organisation with responsibility for representing baseball and softball in the UK within the Olympic domain, BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd said, “It’s disappointing news that Paris 2024 has decided not to include baseball/softball within its competition programme.  In Tokyo, the sports’ international significance and following will be highlighted in front of excited crowds.  They will be among the top sports in terms of event attendance and the medals will be some of the most hotly-contested.  We anticipate a similar response in LA in 2028.

“Baseball/softball stand together at the top of the world’s most popular sports and should be a permanent part of the Olympic programme.  Paris 2024 would have had no problem filling the baseball/softball venues; the sports' popularity in Europe are shown by how quickly the MLB London Series sold out in its first year.  It is a shame that Paris 2024 has not recognised this.

"My heart goes out to all the Olympic hopefuls from across the globe who had hoped to compete in Paris and particularly to those that will miss out on competing in the Olympics because of sports politics.”

GB Women team photo in Japan

The Paris 2024 announcement comes shortly after the news that the Great Britain national baseball and softball programmes have received significant public endorsement for their journey towards Olympic qualification through Aspiration Fund grants offered by UK Sport.  Earlier this month, Great Britain Baseball was awarded £30,500, while Great Britain Softball was awarded £62,500 in December 2018.  Both programmes head into competition later this year with the aim of qualification for Tokyo 2020.

The IOC Programme Commission will now consider Paris 2024’s proposal before it is put to the Executive Board at a meeting next month.  The IOC Session in June will then offer provisional approval before the new additions are officially confirmed by the Executive Board in December 2020, four months after the conclusion of Tokyo 2020.

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