Great news for baseball fans around the world: baseball and softball might be returning to the Olympics. Both were ousted from the London 2012 Games by the International Olympic Committee, but thanks to a proposal from Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers, it may return in time for the 2020 games.
Five sports were included on a list released by the Tokyo Organizing Committee on Monday thanks to a new Olympics process that allows hosting countries to propose sports that reflect their own culture. Baseball/softball, skateboarding (street and park), surfing (shortboard), and sports climbing (bouldering, lead and speed combined), and Karate (Kata and Kumite) were all included.
Karate surprised some, since it seems odd that organizers would chose a Japanese martial art over a Chinese one (wushu) that had been on the committee’s short list earlier this summer. Others to make the short list included bowling and squash, but none made it to Monday’s proposal.
Together, the five sports would bring an additional 474 athletes to Tokyo, with a mostly even split of male and female athletes, except for baseball, which would have 144 participants to softball’s 90.
In a statement, organizers said, “Tokyo 2020 believes the proposed additional events will inspire young athletes involved in these events around the world to strive to achieve their cherished dream of competing in the world’s greatest sporting spectacle.”
The final decision however, will be up to the International Olympic Committee. They will announce their decision at next summer’s Rio 2016 Olympics.
The move to cut baseball and softball was controversial, particularly in the U.S. Organizers claimed baseball wasn’t bringing the sport’s stars to the Olympics, and softball was said to have too low participation rates worldwide.
While baseball fans are excited at the prospect, we’ve been burned before. Baseball nearly made it back into the Olympics back in 2013, but IOC members chose to reinstate wrestling instead just months after cutting it, even though the sport has been part of the international games for more than 100 years. It made since to reinstate wrestling. Let’s just hope baseball doesn’t get benched a second time.
Shane Stirling of Cairns, Queensland is an HR Manager and long-time baseball fan . To learn more about his life and career, please visit his professional website.