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After being excluded from the Olympics in 2008, Baseball and Softball are finally coming back to the Olympics in 2020. This announcement was met with joy and jubilation within the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and its president Riccardo Fraccari. When asked what Fraccari thought of the decision made by the Japanese Olympic Committee to include Baseball and Softball in the 2020 Olympics, he had this to say, “The decision to propose and include Baseball and Softball in the 2020 Olympics is a ‘home run’ and will help the advancement of the sport greatly.” The decision was proposed by Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic committee and the International Olympic Committee will only decide which recommend sports will be included in the 2020 Olympics. The decision will be made in August 2016.
Baseball and Softball were originally in the Olympics from 1992 to 2008. In 2008 Baseball and Softball became the first sports to be removed from the Olympic Games program since Polo was removed in 1936. The vote to remove Baseball and Softball came from a secret ballot that was taken in 2005. The IOC has never disclosed the real reason why they dropped Baseball and Softball from the Olympic program, but many speculate that the most likely reasons are Baseball’s noncompliance with The Worldwide Anti-Doping Agency rules and how the Olympics clashed with Major League Baseball, which resulted in the MLB star players not being part of the Olympic teams.
To gain a fair chance to get the only berth in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games, both Baseball and Softball have joined together to form the World Baseball Softball Confederation or WBSC. In 2013, the WBSC was set to compete against Wrestling and Squash for the only available berth, but in 2015 with the additional suggestions of Surfing and Skateboarding, the WBSC has its work cut out to try and convince the International Olympic Committee that Baseball and Softball are the best sport to add to the Olympic program. There is still hope as the IOC has already ruled out squash as it did not make the final cut, and the Japanese Olympic Committee is confident that Baseball and Softball have a really good chance at being added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program, due to the population of people within Japan that are fond of Baseball and Softball. Japan’s high population of players is a good way for Baseball and Softball brands with the Best Softball Bats, to market sponsor players to create more hype around their products and the sport.
The WBSC said that Baseball and Softball are “currently the biggest sport worldwide, which is not featured in the Olympic Games”. Estimated statistics shows that within 140 countries, an amazing 65 million athletes from ages 5 to 21 play Baseball/Softball.
Even Rob Manfred, the commissioner for the MLB was ecstatic with the announcement that Baseball and Softball would be a possibility for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. However, Manfred has stated that the MLB will not stop its season or games for the big-league players to compete in the Olympics. This could be could be a massive disappointment to fans and the Best Softball Bats brands as they will lose out on seeing fan favorites and players sponsored by the brands if the MLB and WBSC cannot come to an agreement in regards to MLB and the Olympics schedules.
When asked about the possibility of star MLB players not being able to play in the Olympics due to the potential MLB season and Olympic Games fixtures, Fraccari had this to say, “We currently have a great relationship with the MLB and are currently in contact with the MLB. There is plenty of time to try and organize fixtures and the allowance of star MLB players to play in the games, as we have till 2020. At the moment, the most important thing is for the International Olympic Committee to confirm that Baseball and Softball will be included in the 2020 games. Until August, the rest of our negotiations can wait.”
Could the decision made in August after the Rio Olympic Games signify the return of a long lost Olympic Sport? Many hope so and we will just have to wait and see what happens.