IOC president open to baseball's return at Tokyo Games

Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:30am EST
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Baseball and softball could return to the Olympic program for the 2020 Tokyo Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

Bringing back the two sports, which were dropped from the Olympic program after 2008, is a hot-button topic in baseball-mad Japan.

Baseball and softball joined forces to bid against wrestling and squash for the one available berth at the 2020 and 2024 Games but missed out after the IOC voted to reinstate wrestling.

Baseball-softball finished second in the three-way ballot.

"Personally I am open to more flexibility in the program for the Olympic games," Bach said in response to a question at the start of a news conference in Tokyo. "But we must see what my colleagues are thinking about this."

Baseball and softball were on the Olympic program from 1992 to 2008 but voted out in a secret ballot in 2005, becoming the first sports to be removed since polo in 1936.

Bach, who was elected president at the same September IOC meeting where Tokyo was chosen to be the first city in Asia to host the Olympics for a second time, is expected to push through changes and has said there should be flexibility about the number of Olympic sports.

On Wednesday, he said the case for baseball/softball would be taken up at upcoming IOC meetings, including in December and in February.   Continued...

International Olympic Commitee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends a news conference in Tokyo November 20, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato