Tokyo 2021: an opportunity for baseball to establish itself as an Olympic sport

With the participation of six countries, baseball returns to the program after a 13-year absence and with the intention of remaining for many years as an official at the Tokyo Olympics. However, your first stumbling block will be Paris 2024 .

Aerial view of a baseball stadium

Baseball is still seen by Olympism as a non-mass sport and it is not usually official in its competitions. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano Moreno

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Leer en español: Tokio 2021: una oportunidad para que el béisbol se consolide como deporte olímpico

Baseball is a sports specialty with an important tradition and fans in Asia, the United States, Central America, Venezuela and the coast of Colombia. However, it is still seen by the Olympics as a non-mass sport and it is not usually official in its competitions, except when the headquarters of the Games is a country in which it is played.

Unofficially, "The ball" has been held since 1904 but in 12 Olympics under the condition of exhibition sport. In total, there are five editions that have received this discipline and 17 countries that have participated in them, Cuba and Japan being present in all, including the official appointments of Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 .

The first impulse

That, precisely, seemed to be at the time the step that the diamond sport needed to sit definitively in the Olympic Games after the great effort of Manuel González Guerra, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee (COC) to establish said sport within the schedule, and It seemed a reality after five consecutive appointments in which baseball handed out medals. What happened then? Let's see.

It was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) itself on July 7, 2005 that decided to exclude it, together with softball, from the London 2012 event, which affected 16 countries that play them in an organized way and almost 300 athletes. The reason was again the same, the lack of universality of the sport despite the five Olympics in single file, the same argument was used so that it was not part of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 edition either, despite the fact that, in that nation, this discipline It is growing thanks to the large Asian community that resides there.

But that same year, at the congress heading to Tokyo 2020, it was decided to give it a new opportunity and with the novel vision of living together with a very similar sport such as softball, thanks to the organization called World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), chaired by Ricardo Fraccari, a character who ended with the IOC's argument denying the presence of both due to the absence of Major League Baseball players.

Also read: Colombian Talent is Also Present in the Major Leagues

A stumbling block called Paris 2024

But be careful that this achievement will have an obstacle to consolidate itself, no matter how well it does in Tokyo 2021 and that is that the ball is already disapproved of Paris 2024, because, according to a rule approved in 2014 for the update of the program, sports Permanents can be added in each edition up to another five already proposed by the host region, with the "City of Light" in charge of saying no to baseball.

For this reason, it will be essential for the sport of the four corners to sustain its growth and popularity so that, as of the 2028 edition of the Games, it returns definitively to the games program. Today, in fact, baseball and softball are not the Cinderellas they were in the 80s, and the WBSC structure is made up of 212 national pavilions, - that the United Nations seats -, the result of exponential growth, in a competitive system on a world scale and in categories such as U12, U15, U18, U23 and older, in addition to the most important event, the Premier12.

The @USABaseball team is going to the #TokyoOlympics!

Baseball is returning to the Olympic program this summer for the first time since 2008. pic.twitter.com/iK9UdheLlk

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 6, 2021


What will the tournament be like in Tokyo?

The first thing to say is that Cuba, a traditional competitor of this sport in the Olympic event, will not attend for the first time in its history after being surprisingly eliminated at the hands of Canada in the recently concluded pre-Olympic that was played in Florida and in which America got its ticket to Tokyo.

The Antilleans fell 6-5 to Canada, in the second match of Group B of the Pre-Olympic (together with Venezuela and Colombia) and thus they were left without options to play the Super Round, which was attended by vinotintos and North Americans along with the United States and the Dominican Republic. for the group A. Cuba has always been since Barcelona 1992 both in official events and in exhibition events.

The Caribbean team had obtained medals in all these events, including gold in Barcelona 92, Atlanta 96 and Athens 2004. Without a doubt, their absence may reduce interest a little for the program of this sport, especially for the Latin American region. but at least the most powerful Asians like Japan and South Korea will be present.

South Korea, Japan, Israel, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the United States have already qualified for the Tokyo baseball championship. It is necessary to clarify that Japan is the only representative that has classified all the Olympic jousts since baseball exists in the Games.