Baseball and softball make Olympic shortlist

Thu 30 May 2013

WBSC LogoAgainst many people's expectations, baseball and softball (or baseball-softball, as the sports are now known for Olympic purposes) have made a short list of three sports to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.  The announcement was made by the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board on 29 May in St Peterburg, Russia.

Wrestling, which was dropped from the Olympics three months ago, and squash were the other two sports to make the cut, while five sports – karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of wushu – have been eliminated from contention.

The IOC Executive will submit wrestling, squash and baseball-softball to the full IOC Assembly for a final decision on 8 September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Only one sport will be chosen.

Despite a tradition dating to the ancient Olympics, wrestling was surprisingly cut from the list of core sports by the IOC Executive in February 2013.  The decision caused an international outcry and prompted the United States, Russia, Iran and other countries to join forces in a bid to bring the sport back.

Voting rounds

Don Porter WBSCThe decision on the short list came after each of the eight candidate sports made 30-minute closed-door presentations to the IOC Executive Board.

The Board then voted by secret ballot over several rounds, with wrestling winning on the first round with eight of the 14 votes.

Baseball-softball beat karate by 9-5 in a head-to-head vote to win its spot on the list and squash got through in the final round, getting eight votes to defeat wushu with four and sport climbing with two.

"It was never going to be an easy decision but I feel my colleagues on the board made a good decision in selecting baseball-softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires," IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a statement. "I wish the three short-listed sports the best of luck in the run-up to the vote in September and would like to thank the other sports for their hard work and dedication."


Baseball and softball had merged into a single International Federation in 2012 – the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) – to improve their chances of getting back in to the Olympics with the disciplines of men's baseball and women's fastpitch softball.  The two sports had been cut by the IOC in 2005, the first sports dropped since polo in 1936, and had been off the programme since the 2008 Beijing Games.

WBSC Co-President Riccardo Fraccari said, "We are humbled and honoured.  The decision motivates us to work even harder on behalf of our athletes."

"We're in the seventh inning now," said WBSC Co-President Don Porter.

The sports are proposing separate baseball and softball events of eight teams each, played as back-to-back six-day tournaments at a single venue.


Squash is bidding for Olympic inclusion for a third time.  The sport is proposing knock-out singles championships for 32 male and 32 female players.

"I said to the Executive Board that the one big regret in my career is that I have never had the chance to compete in the Olympic Games, but I would happily trade all my seven world titles for the chance of Olympic gold," said Women's No. 1 Nicol David of Malaysia.


Wrestling has freestyle and Greco-Roman events, but the sport has gone through a major upheaval since its rejection earlier this year.  Raphael Martinetti resigned as FILA president and was replaced by Nenad Lalovic, the organisation brought women and athletes into decision-making roles, and changes were enacted to make the sport more compelling.

Matches will now consist of two three-minute sessions instead of three two-minute periods, and scoring will be cumulative instead of the previous best-of-three system.

But the addition of wrestling to the mix has not gone over well with all the sports.  If wrestling is reinstated in September, that will defeat the IOC's original goal of bringing in a new sport in 2020.

The IOC decision was watched closely by the three cities bidding to host the 2020 Games -- Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.  A decision on the 2020 host city will also be made in September.

Olympic Bid Press Conference - London, 23 May 2013

Back to news listing


Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

In this section


Get in the Game

Sign-up with the BSF to PLAY SOFTBALL

Hot Corner Signup Form
Advertise with us 468px
Follow Us