Softball, baseball target secure Oly spots

·2-min read

Softball and baseball are pushing for a permanent return to the Olympic program after their revival at the Tokyo Games.

Softball Australia and Baseball Australia are working with the international governing body, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), and the IOC to give the sports an ongoing Olympics berth.

The move was discussed at this week's WBSC executive board meeting, staged after the conclusion of the under-23 Baseball World Cup in Mexico.

Introduced to the program in 1996, women's softball was dumped after the Beijing Games in 2008, where Australia won bronze.

Men's baseball first appeared in 1904 but suffered the same fate as softball after 2008 as the IOC cut a block of athletes from the Games.

Australia's baseballers missed their Tokyo Olympic qualifier due to COVID-19 concerns, last playing in 2004 where they won a silver medal.

The sports won't be contested in Paris in 2024 but are hopeful of a recall for Los Angeles four years later, and confirmation of their ongoing status including Brisbane in 2032.

Softball Australia chair Richard Lindell said Olympic status gave the sports a greater profile and helped boost participation rates.

"Having our national teams at the Olympic Games is an immeasurable boost to our sports profile and marketability," Lindell said.

"We had considerable growth across our digital audiences during the recent Olympic period.

"Becoming a permanent sport on the Olympic program would bring many benefits to our sport both financially and at a participation level, so we hope to gain momentum in those areas by targeting a return for consecutive Games at Los Angeles, Brisbane and beyond."

With the host country winning both gold medals, Baseball Australia boss Glenn Williams said the sports featured record television broadcasting figures in Japan while they also offered global appeal.

"We're looking forward to working with the WBSC, our fellow national sporting organisations and softball and baseball stakeholders across Australia to secure our sports' future," he said.

"Both softball and baseball are incredibly inclusive and marketable sports globally, they deserve a permanent fixture in the Olympic cycle."

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