The International Olympic Committee‘s new president says he is open to bringing back baseball and softball to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. For a baseball-mad country like Japan, the non-inclusion of the two sports has caused much discussion in sporting circles.
Thomas Bach, who was elected president at the same time last September that Tokyo won the bid for hosting the 2020 Olympics, said he is “open to more flexibility” when it comes to the program in the Olympics but he would still have to consult his colleagues before making a decision. Baseball and softball joined forces to get the one available berth for a returning sport for the 2020 and 2024 Games, but the IOC voted instead to reinstate wrestling. The two sports finished second in the ballot while squash was third. They were part of the Games from 1992 to 2008 but became the first sport to be removed since polo in 1936 after they voted out by a secret ballot in 2005.
Bach is in Japan this week for the first time since he was elected president and said he is impressed by the preparations so far. He was not worried over the ongoing controversy over the building of the main Olympic stadium, which has earned criticism from some sectors for being too grandiose, expensive and environmentally unsound. The government has said they will be scaling back the original plans for the Zaha Hadid-designed stadium that will be replacing the Tokyo Stadium. Bach said that he believes the adjustments would not affect the stadium as a sports facility.
[ via Reuters ]