June 15, 2009: The International Baseball Federation, the overseeing organization for baseball and softball worldwide, said it has presented a plan to the International Olympic Committee in support of baseball’s reinstatement to the Olympic program. Baseball had been a part of the Olympics since 1992 but was voted out by the IOC in 2005 effective after the 2008 Beijing Games and will not be part of the 2012 Summer Games in London. Among the factors that fueled the IOC decision regarding baseball were a lack of MLB superstars, ongoing issues with steroids and a lack of baseball-specific venues that could be used for the sport after the Olympics left town.
A group of high-level baseball officials, including IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller, Secretary General John Ostermeyer, MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy, and MLB Players Assn. executive director Donald Fehr, presented their plan to the IOC today (June 15) during a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Among the key factors, the group proposed a five-day, eight team tournament that would allow maximum participation of the top players from the countries that qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, with the qualifier for 2016 held during the 2015 off-season; MLB would not broadcast any games directly against the Olympic baseball schedule in 2016, giving the Olympic tournament the widest possible media attention; MLB would not play any games on the final day where the medals will be determined; MLB would work with the IOC to create a year-round marketing partnership designed to increase awareness not just for baseball, but for the entire Olympic program; and baseball would continue to take a leadership position in anti-doping.
Baseball and softball are seeking reinstatement by the IOC this year along with karate, roller sports, golf, rugby sevens and squash. The IOC will select only two for reinstatement at the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark in October, when the group also will select the host city for the 2016 Summer Games.
“We feel that we have not just addressed the issues that were presented as to why baseball was removed for 2012, but have also outlined the most effective way in which the Olympic program can work with baseball’s year-round global marketing capabilities over the next seven years to maximize Olympic exposure,” Dr. Schiller said in a statement. “From a game-ending rule, to after-use of venues, to using the best players and generating media coverage, baseball has shown it will do whatever it takes, from the grassroots to the professional level, to be not just a partner, but the best partner, for the Olympic movement.” Added DuPuy, “[Baseball] will work with the IOC to find opportunities in sponsorship and licensing where our year-round global reach and popularity and our growing cadre of international stars can assist in growing Olympic marketing opportunities.”