Softball Could Return To Olympics in 2020

2020 Olympics

“Softball Could Return To Olympics in 2020” Written By Bill Plummer

It appears that softball could possibly return to the Olympics following recent changes made by the IOC. The changes include removing the cap of 28 sports, which would mean an events-based program and allow for more new competitions while staying at around 10,500 athletes and 310 medal events.

Host cities will be allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more additional events, and 2020 host Japan is hoping to add baseball and softball. Softball was first contested in the Olympics in 1996 then again in 2000, and 2004 before being taken off the program following the 2008 Olympics. The USA won three gold medals before settling for a silver in the 2008 Olympics with Japan winning the gold.

Softball and baseball are extremely popular in Japan and, according to Reuters, the IOC will likely approve the addition, possibly at the IOC scheduled meeting in July.

The probable decision could come earlier. Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo2020, said he expects Tokyo2020 will present its plans for staging the Games in a report to the IOC in February. The Wall St Journal predicted that, in addition to softball and baseball, Tokyo2020 might include squash and karate.

Skateboarding and racketball have been supported for 2024.
“It is not sure for baseball and softball, because most other federations are against this,” Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer International Sports Federations, told several Italian journalists.

The World Baseball Softball Federation reacted with predictable joy.
“Today, there is there is great hope that our athletes will now have a real opportunity — the pinnacle and highest honour in our sport — to play for their country, aiming to win an Olympic gold medal,” WBSF President Riccardo Fraccari said in a statement.

If softball does get back on the program, it behooves the ISF, the WBSF and the ASA to work together to ensure everything is in place if this becomes a reality. Players 13 and 14 now would be members of the softball team and possibly some younger members of the current USA National Team. Tryouts would have to be held, etc, plus the naming of a coaching staff and who knows what else to ensure a smooth transition back into the Olympics. Softball should never been taken off the program in the first place, but politics reared its ugly head and did an un-justice to a sport that didn't deserve it in the first place.

If Toyko gets to have baseball and softball back on the Olympic program, you can be assured that the attendance at both disciplines will be excellent considering the popularity of the two sports in Japan, and especially since the Japan women's team is the No. 1 team in the world currently. What better place to show off the No. 1 team in the world than in front of a hometown crowd. The 1996 USA Olympic Team can attest to that when Olympic softball made its debut at Golden Park in Columbus, GA, drawing crowds in excess of 8,700.

The debut of softball was as spectacular a debut as anyone could imagine for an Olympic sport and of course playing it in the USA guaranteed sellout crowds with eight teams competing. The USA won the first-ever gold medal, defeating China, 3-1, in the Gold medal game with each team getting four hits. The USA scored all its run in the third inning and USA shortstop Dr. Dot Richardson, now the head softball coach at Liberty University, went two-for-three with two RBI including a home run. Michele Granger and Lisa Fernandez combined to pitch the Gold medal game with Granger going five and two-thirds innings, striking out eight. Fernandez finished the game and fanned three batters, allowing no hits.

Bill Plummer Bill Plummer A graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than four decades. For 30years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian. In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show Manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2009, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2014, ” A Series of Their Own. The History of the Women's College World Series.” He has been elected to five halls of fame, including the ASA National. In 1996, he served as the Information Manager for the debut of softball in the Olympics.

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