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SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Baseball and softball should be part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite failing to make the cut last year, the head of the powerful Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) said on Wednesday.
The two sports, as well as squash, lost out to wrestling in September for a spot on the Tokyo Games program but Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who heads the ANOC, said their popularity in Japan would be beneficial to the Games.
"For baseball and softball, speaking as ANOC president, it will mean a lot (to be part of the Tokyo Games)," he told a small group of reporters.
"It will be added value for the sports, added value for the spectators and added value for the Games," said the influential International Olympic Committee member, credited with helping get Thomas Bach elected to the IOC presidency in September.
Bach has said he wanted to get rid of the seven-year rule for a sport's inclusion in the Games in order to refresh the program and tap into potential new viewers and sponsors.
He also wants to increase the number of sports to more than the current 28 by cutting disciplines and events of other sports to keep the total athletes figure at 10,500.
The IOC has said a decision on a change of rules for sports will be taken in December.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Rutherford