Baseball will return to the Olympic program at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
At its Executive Board meeting in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to approve a proposal by the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic Games to add five sports to the Olympic program: baseball-softball, cricket, squash, lacrosse and flag football.
The IOC Session, which will take place from May 15-17, will make the final decision on the new sports. The decision by the Executive Board, the IOC’s highest decision-making body, is a sure thing to be passed by the Session. Baseball, softball, cricket and lacrosse are returning to the Olympic program, while flag football and squash are making their first appearance.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “These five new sports are in line with American sporting culture and will allow us to showcase iconic American sports to the world. They will make the Olympic Games in Los Angeles even more special. They will allow us to connect with new athletes and fan communities around the world.”
According to the IOC website, the selection of the five new sports was the result of a thorough process and analysis based on a set of evaluation criteria before the process began. They took into account the utilization of existing stadium facilities and included the most popular sports in the United States and around the world.
As the IOC website explains, “Baseball and softball have been recognized as Olympic sports on multiple occasions. Most recently at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. These two sports are among the most iconic in the United States, with four continents represented in the top 10 of the world rankings. The recent 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) drew more than 1 million spectators, setting a record for the largest attendance in the tournament. The sport is hugely popular among young people in the United States. Baseball has the second highest youth participation rate, with nearly 2.2 million youth (ages 13-17) participating, and softball ranks in the top five most popular sports for high school girls in the U.S.,” the organization said.
Baseball has been an official sport at the last five consecutive Olympic Games, from Barcelona in 1992 to Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. However, the sport’s unpopularity outside of North, Central, and South America and Asia led to its exclusion from London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. It was reinstated at the 2020 Games in Japan, where baseball is the national sport, but was dropped again for Paris 2024.
However, the sport will be back for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, in baseball’s home country. In the past, Major League Baseball has banned players from participating in the Olympics when they overlap with the season, but this time around, it”s a different story.
According to Japan’s Kyodo News on Thursday, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari said, “We have received a document from the US Major League Baseball confirming the participation of top players if baseball is included in the LA Olympics. We also have an agreement with the players’ associations.” It seems that he sought the cooperation of the Major League Baseball office and the players’ association to return baseball to the Olympics.
This makes it much harder for South Korea to win a medal in Olympic baseball. After winning bronze in Sydney in 2000, South Korea went on to win the gold medal in Beijing in 2008, a nine-game sweep, but failed to medal in Tokyo in 2020, finishing fourth after losing to the United States, Japan, and the Dominican Republic.토토사이트
A full roster of top Major League Baseball players at the 2028 Olympics could spell trouble for South Korea, as the United States and Japan, as well as Central and South American nations such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, will be significantly strengthened.
While it’s unclear how many Koreans will be playing in the major leagues in 2028, it’s clear that the competition for medals will be more intense. The Korean baseball team, which won a gold medal at the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games with a roster of young players under the age of 25 and in their fourth year of professional competition, will need to prepare more thoroughly.