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Could Tokyo's win boost Olympic chances for baseball and softball?

Don Porter, co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, says he didn’t have a rooting interest in yesterday’s 2020 Olympic host city competition, but he expects the decision to award the Games to Tokyo to provide a boost for baseball and softball’s bid to return to the Olympic program.

“They were all good cities and we would have been comfortable with all three, but Tokyo has a great history in baseball and softball,” Porter said in the lobby of the Hilton hours after Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics.

Baseball has been popular in Japan since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig first visited the country in 1934, and in a stroke of good fortune, the organizers of the baseball and softball bid made a video for their presentation today that includes footage of the two Major League Baseball legends playing in Tokyo. They hope that it underscores the international appeal of baseball and softball and highlights how well received the sport would be in Tokyo if it returned to the Olympics in 2020.

A win today for baseball and softball would be an upset. Wrestling is the clear favorite. But that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of wrestling's competitors, squash and baseball/softball. Both sports are looking for any boost they can get to help them overtake wrestling.
Baseball remains the most popular team sport in Japan and Porter said that should help the sport with its bid.

Porter yesterday said that he had not spoken to Tokyo 2020 delegates about lobbying for baseball and softball, but he was hopeful that they would take their own initiative to encourage IOC members to add the sport in time for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

It’s the sport’s third bid for the Games. The sport has worked since its last bid to address issues that hurt it in the past. It combined the baseball and softball federations to give it more gender equality, and it stands to benefit from Major League Baseball’s new approach to combating performance-enhancing drugs, which was an issue in 2008.

But Porter acknowledged yesterday that winning won’t be easy.

“We’re still trying to get support,” he said.
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Related Topics:

Baseball, Olympics, Japan

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