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Could Tokyo’s victory help baseball get back in Olympics?

Sep 7, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT


Nick Zaccardi covers Olympic sports in OlympicTalk. He’s crossing over to HBT for this post. For more on this topic, click here.

Sports Nippon, one of Japan’s leading sports newspapers, had the number 20, not 2020, splashed on its front page of Saturday’s edition.

The centerpiece photo was of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitcher Masahiro Tanaka fist pumping as he raised his record for the season to a record-tying 20-0.

That’s how big baseball is in Japan. Going into the day Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics, baseball was the biggest story.

No doubt, any fan of baseball (and softball) to get back into the Olympics smiled when Tokyo defeated Istanbul and Madrid in Saturday’s International Olympic Committee vote held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s why:

Baseball and softball are in a combined bid to rejoin the Olympics for 2020 and 2024. Another IOC vote will be held Sunday, choosing one sport from baseball-softball, squash and wrestling to add to the Olympic program. Wrestling is considered the front-runner, baseball-softball in second and squash third.

Tokyo’s win Saturday could give baseball-softball a boost. Japan looks upon baseball and softball more favorably than perhaps any other nation. It’s got the success to back it up.

Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009), which has replaced the Olympics as baseball’s major international tournament. Japan also won the last Olympic softball title in 2008. Both sports were cut from the Olympics in 2005, with the exclusion taking effect beginning with the London 2012 Games.

“If Tokyo wins the honor to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport, capturing the full attention of our entire nation and others around the world,” said legendary Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 career home runs, according to a release from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give the ballplayers and the fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Granted, IOC members must consider the future of the Olympics and not just a single Games in Tokyo. And keep this in mind: Japan won gold in three of the four women’s wrestling weight classes in 2012. Wrestling’s proposal to stay in the Games includes adding two women’s weight classes.

  1. phillyphever - Sep 7, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Tough choice there, considering how much of a bigger backlash wresting got when it got kicked out of the Olympics. Can’t they just get rid of golf and put both of them back in?

    • dan1111 - Sep 7, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      I actually don’t want baseball in the Olympics. It would be kind of pointless without the world’s best players, and it would never work for MLB to stop their season for it. And the World Baseball Classic is already being pushed as the international tournament for baseball.

      • Reflex - Sep 7, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        Same opinion. My feelings on the Olympics are pretty poor in general, and the every four years thing makes it a crapshoot as to who happens to be at their peak at any given time. An annual world championship makes far more sense to me.

        Ultimately though, team sports just don’t make much sense in the Olympics. It was historically about individual athleticism and achievement, and I’d like to see it return to that premise. Given that, wrestling should absolutely be an Olympic sport.

  2. thebadguyswon - Sep 7, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Is that Obama right before he drew the red line?

  3. smillr58 - Sep 8, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Why is there a picture of an assclown in this article??

  4. rbj1 - Sep 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    How about we get rid of synchronized swimming and put both baseball/softball and wrestling in. You know, sports that don’t rely on “judging” to determine the outcome.

  5. natsattack - Sep 8, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    All for null:

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