The 129th IOC Session in Rio on Wednesday officially approved the return of Baseball and Softball onto the program of the Olympic Games. In Tokyo in 2020 the two bat and ball sports will be played in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Together with Karate, Surfing, Skateboarding and Sport Climbing the five sports were voted unanimously into the program as additional sports.
The Q&A session prior to the decisive vote however once again put the finger into the wound, as question after question was raised if Major League Baseball is going to allow their players to compete in the Olympic tournament. While all the other leagues worldwide will stop play during the Olympic Games an agreement with MLB is still outstanding.
After Baseball and Softball were rebuffed by the IOC in 2005 and 2009, the two governing bodies finally came to their senses and founded the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), as most of the national federations already had been combined entities. Under the leadership of WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari Baseball and Softball got their act together and step by step moved closer to the big goal.
In 2013 their hard work seemed to be not enough when Wrestling fought off Baseball/Softball among others to remain on the program. But thanks to the so-called Tokyo 2020 agenda by new IOC President Thomas Bach a new path was plotted, as additional sports now can be added after recommendation by the local organizers. After long considerations Tokyo 2020 last year shortlisted five sports including Baseball/Softball. In June the IOC Executive already approved the addition and now the IOC Session has followed as well.