News

Baseball could return to 2020 Olympics

Baseball could return to 2020 Olympics

OLYMPIC GAMES: International Olympic Commitee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends a news conference in Tokyo Nov. 20. Photo: Reuters/REUTERS/Issei Kato

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.

ADJUSTMENTS

Bach, who is visiting Japan for the first time since taking the IOC top job, praised 2020 preparations so far and said he was unfazed by controversy about the cost and design of the main Olympic stadium, which is now set to be scaled back from original plans.

The spaceship-like stadium was designed by London architect Zaha Hadid, who also designed the aquatics centre for the London 2012 Olympics, to replace the ageing stadium built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Some architects opposed the design from the start, saying it would not blend with the surrounding environment and that building it would require cutting down trees, a precious commodity in crowded Tokyo.

Criticism grew when government officials said costs could balloon to as much as 300 billion yen ($2.99 billion) as opposed to the 130 billion yen in Tokyo’s bid proposal, prompting Tokyo governor Naoki Inose to reject demands that Tokyo shoulder the burden.

Inose later said that the central government estimates expenses will run to some 185 billion yen.

Officials have said that costs will be cut by making the stadium building more compact, reducing the space for things such as exhibition rooms, and that plans for 80,000 seats – up from 54,000 in the current stadium – will not change.

“What I have heard about the Olympic stadium is that there were some plans about adjustments in the building,” Bach said.

“But it will not affect at all the Olympic stadium as a sports facility.”

The old stadium is scheduled to be demolished next year and the new facilities will be completed in time to host the rugby World Cup in 2019.

($1 = 100.2050 Japanese yen)

Recent Headlines

8 mins ago in National

10 FOR TODAY: Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fresh
cruz16124038302788

Your daily look at the stories that will be talked about today.

1 hour ago in Local

Two escape fire on Lummi Reservation

Fresh
fire

The blaze Sunday destroyed a double-wide mobile home.

5 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: May 3

dollyparton

A look back at some of the biggest headlines in Hollywood history.

6 hours ago in Local Sports

Mariners back Karns with enough offense in 4-3 win over A’s 

Updated
Mariners celebrate Ywitter

Robinson Cano had three hits and scored twice, Kyle Seager hit a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning

7 hours ago in Local Sports

WWU Men’s Golf: Vikings 19th at NCAA Regionals

wwu golf

The Vikings have work to do over the next two days of the 54-hole tournament, currently 18 strokes out of one of the top three spots to qualify for the NCAA Championships.