Although the momentum appears to be swinging in favor of wrestling for reinstatement to the 2020 Summer Olympics, one legend of baseball has his own agenda in mind — Sadaharu Oh wants baseball and softball to return to the Olympics.
Unfortunately for the world record home run king, most are predicting that wrestling will mark its return to the Summer Games as opposed to a combined baseball-softball bid, or least of all squash, when the International Olympic Committee votes on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires to include one additional sport.
Wrestling, featured in every Olympics except for 1900, was dropped from the list of 25 core sports by the IOC’s executive board in February, sparking an international outcry. Since then, its international governing body, FILA, has been lobbying feverishly to save the sport.
There’s been an overhaul of leadership, new rule changes enacted to make wrestling more viewer-friendly, and the addition of two new weight classes for women.
Baseball and softball last appeared separately at the Beijing Games in 2008. Outgoing IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the time that baseball needed universality, a strong following, the best players, and to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency to earn its way back.
Oh came out in support for baseball and softball’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympic program after the World Baseball Softball Confederation in conjunction with the World Children’s Baseball Foundation, staged one of the world’s most widespread international youth clinics this August in Fukui Prefecture.
“If Tokyo wins the honor to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport,” Oh said.
Over 130 children, representing five continents and 13 countries, participated in the six-day “World Children’s Baseball Fair.” Oh believes baseball and softball can rise to the occasion to grab the last spot.
“The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give the ballplayers and fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.