OCA president backing baseball's 2020 return

Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:18pm EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - The president of the Olympic Council of Asia has thrown his support behind baseball's bid to return to the program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who also heads the powerful Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), told Reuters in an interview that Tokyo had all the infrastructure and facilities in place to fit baseball into the program.

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.

They 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.

"In my personal opinion, yes," said Sheikh Ahmad when asked if baseball should return in Tokyo. "The Olympics as a sporting leader and Tokyo as the hosting city would be happy to see baseball at the Games."

Baseball enjoys huge popularity in Asia, particularly in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, who won the first two editions of the World Baseball Classic.

Currently a sport needs to be voted in seven years before making its Olympic appearance but Olympic chief Thomas Bach has said he wanted to get rid of the rule 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.   Continued...