IOC to discuss return of baseball, softball

IOC to discuss return of baseball, softball

IOC to discuss return of baseball, softball

IOC chairman Thomas Bach says he is open to a more flexible Olympic Games program, giving a green light to the addition of new sports at the events. AP photo

The International Olympic Committee will discuss a proposal by Japan and other countries to reinstate baseball and softball in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, its new chief said on Nov. 20.

“I’m personally open for more flexibility in the programme of the Olympic Games,” said Thomas Bach, who succeeded Jacques Rogge as IOC president in September when Tokyo was chosen over Madrid and Istanbul to host the 2020 summer Games.

“But I still have to see what my colleagues in the IOC are thinking about this.”

There must also be consultations with the international federation, he said, referring to the World Baseball and Softball Confederation.

The question of which sports will be contested should be decided seven years before an Olympics. “So we’ll have this form of discussion in the next couple of months,” added Bach, who was visiting Tokyo to muster support from political and business circles for the 2020 Games.

The former Olympic and world fencing champion from Germany said the issue would be discussed by the IOC executive board on December 4, and by the full IOC membership in the Russian resort of Sochi in February, when the winter Games are staged there.

Wrestling in, baseball, softball, squash out

A total of 28 sports have been selected for the 2020 summer Games after the IOC reinstated wrestling on September 7. It beat out baseball and softball -- packaged as one sport -- and squash.

Baseball, passionately followed in Japan as the king of sports, and its sibling softball were dropped from the 2012 London Games by the IOC, which cited their lack of global appeal among other reasons.

A fixed Olympic programme can be changed only if the IOC executive board proposes an amendment and the IOC general assembly approves it.

Bach said the IOC would also have to modify the seven-year rule. Before his arrival in Tokyo this week, an IOC mission held a seminar there to advise on preparations. Tokyo is due to set up its organising committee in February.

“Having seen Japanese society really being united in this bid, we are sure that this unity will continue and ensure brilliant Games in 2020,” Bach said.