IOC Names Short List of New Sports For 2020: Baseball and Softball Listed
Today the IOC announced its new events for Sochi 2014, and its shortlisted sports for 2020.
The IOC today officially confirmed the inclusion of ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, and snowboard parallel special slalom (all for men and women) for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. All of these sports follow the trend in recent Olympic Games to add exciting sports that are spectator friendly. IOC President Jacques Rogge stated in the press release that "We are very pleased with the addition of ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard special slalom in the Olympic Winter Games programme. Such events provide great entertainment for the spectators and add further youthful appeal to our already action-packed lineup of Olympic winter sports. We look forward to welcoming all the athletes to Sochi in 2014.”
More interesting to me is the list of sports to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Olympiad. The IOC Executive Board has listed baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu on their shortlist. However, only ONE of these sports will be added in 2020. The decision to only add one sport, and the fact that baseball and softball are currently considered as two different sports is likely to make it extremely difficult for either sport to be named.
Let me explain my reasoning.
The IOC is being extremely careful to only add new sports when both women and men compete internationally. Baseball, as most know, is still predominately played by men at an international level and softball, is laregly known as a women's sport (although high level competition for men no doubt exists). As long as baseball and softball are considered separately, and only one sport is admitted, inclusion in 2020 may be difficult.
If I was to put my money on what sport would be added (and really it is much to soon to tell) I would guess that it would be wake boarding, squash or karate. I think wake boarding holds a unique advantage as it is cheap to host (all you need is some water, a boat and some grandstands) and has a high excitement level for spectators (much like the sports that were added for Sochi. Squash and Karate are also very popular sports that are relatively inexpensive tournaments to run. Baseball and softball are expensive, especially if the host city is not a traditional baseball/softball nation with appropriate facilities. In Athens, for example, the baseball and softball stadium largely stood unused after the games and the government considered tearing them down shortly after the games. It is also unhelpful that baseball and softball are played in different stadiums, which forces host cities to build or renovate two separate facilities.
As most followers of the blog will know, I am an avid softball player and played on a national level in Canada. I was heart broken when baseball and softball was removed from the Olympic Games after the 2008 Beijing games. I would love to see both sports added to the 2020 tournaments.
But with only one spot available the international federations for baseball and softball are going to have to work together.
What do you think? Leave a comment here or vote in the poll on my homepage.