Baseball takes step toward inclusion in 2020 Olympics

OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) makes a fine running catch on the track during the 2008 Athens Olympics. 

OF Michael Saunders (Victoria, BC) makes a fine running catch on the track during the 2008 Athens Olympics. 

By Adam Morissette
Baseball Canada
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee announced earlier that baseball/softball is one of five sports proposed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the 2020 games. The other sports that will be considered for inclusion are Karate, Surfing, Skateboard and Sports Climbing representing a total of 18 events.

“Tokyo 2020’s decision to propose our sport is a ‘home run’ and giant leap forward for baseball and softball,” said World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari. “On behalf of WBSC and our athletes, I would like to thank Tokyo 2020 as well as IOC President Thomas Bach, whose Olympic Agenda 2020 vision has paved the way for this extraordinary opportunity. The entire baseball and softball world is excited and ready to cross the Olympic home plate. But above all, I am happy for all our male and female athletes who today can see there is a real chance to fulfill their greatest dream of representing their country in the most important sporting spectacle there is -- the Olympic Games.”

Tokyo 2020’s proposal for additional events must be reviewed, voted upon and formally approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next August ahead of the 2016 Games.

Canada’s participation in Olympic baseball dates back to 1988 when baseball was a demonstration sport at the games in Seoul. Canada finished fourth at the Athens Olympics in 2004 before a sixth place finish at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the last time baseball appeared in the Olympic sport program.

“Today’s announcement is certainly positive for our sport and we look forward to the final decision in August,” said Baseball Canada President Ray Carter. “The WBSC has done a tremendous job gaining momentum for a possible return to the Olympics for both baseball and softball, and we commend them for their hard work.”

The proposal for baseball at the 2020 Games is for a six-team tournament with 24 players per roster.