Baseball, softball remain on IOC's shortlist for inclusion in 2020 Olympics
There are currently 27 sports scheduled to be included in the 2020 Games, and the IOC will vote during their session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this September to determine whether the baseball/softball combo, wrestling, or squash will join the program as the 28th.
That session will also see a vote to determine the site of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, with Istanbul, Madrid, and Tokyo the three finalists.
IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams made the shortlist announcement during the SportAccord Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the trio beating out five other applicants – karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu – to remain on the list.
Adams also released the following statement from IOC President Jacques Rogge:
"The Executive Board received excellent presentations today from eight International Federations. 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. I wish the three shortlisted sports the best of luck in the run up to the vote in September.”
Should baseball return in 2020, it would mark the 14th time the sport has been included in the Olympics; baseball was played in some form during six Olympiads between 1904 and 1964, returned as a demonstration sport in 1984 and 1988, and was an official medal event from 1992 through 2008.
Softball was added for the 1996 Games and was contested in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008.
In 2005, however, the IOC voted to drop baseball and softball from the 2012 Games in London, and that exclusion was extended to the 2016 games by a 2009 IOC vote.
According to a story on the International Baseball Federation’s website, IOC Director of Sports Christophe Duby was quoted as saying that the merger between the IBAF and the International Softball Federation into one entity, the World Baseball Softball Confederation, was one of the keys to their re-consideration for 2020.
As for their competitors, wrestling has been on the Olympic program since the debut of the modern Olympic Games in 1896 and will be included in the 2016 Games, but was initially dropped as a definite from the 2020 Games by an IOC vote back in February.
Squash, meanwhile, is recognized by the IOC and is an official sport at the World Games, but it has never been part of the Olympics in any capacity.