To say that the Olympics are in a transitional phase is an understatement: it’s extremely expensive to host the games, and with criticism that large facilities are being erected only to be abandoned shortly after the end of the Games, the IOC is looking at alternatives to keep costs down. One option is moving sports where new facilities are not feasible; the other option is to let two cities bid on the games. This could happen for the 2024 Summer Olympics, where San Francisco and Los Angeles prepped a joint bid. And it could help the 2018 South Korea games save $100 million by not constructing a bobsled, luge and skeleton facility, with those sports moved to another existing facility.
But for us, the most important decision by the International Olympic Committee yesterday was the potential addition of baseball and softball to the 2020 Olympics. The sports were dropped from the Olympic roster in 2008, but with the popularity of baseball in Japan and the lack of a need for a new, big ballpark to host games, there’s some momentum to add the sports. From the Chicago Tribune:
Later in the morning, the IOC signed off on changes that would allow the Tokyo 2020 Oympic organizers to resurrrect baseball and softball, pushed off the Olympic sports program after 2008.
If, as expected, Tokyo asks the IOC to add those sports, which are very popular in Japan, and possibly squash as well, the approval could come at the regularly scheduled IOC meeting in July.
“It is not sure for baseball and softball, because most other federations are against this,” Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer International Sports Federations, told several Italian journalists.
Money may end up talking, in this case: if baseball is profitable enough to cover other costs, these federations may have a change of heart.