Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japan's Gotta Have Baseball Back in the Olympics! Tokyo 2020 Squeeze Play?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japan's Gotta Have Baseball Back in the Olympics! Tokyo 2020 Squeeze Play?

Article excerpt

Japanese baseball fans are some of the world's most diehard. Cities across Japan, including Tokyo, now regularly slow down during the World Series in October to watch homegrown players hit and pitch in the United States. Last year Japanese watched Boston closer Koji Uehara, and this year Nori Aoki, who plays for Kansas City is hammering out hits. In all, 12 Japanese players have appeared in the MLB fall classic.

So with Tokyo hosting the Summer Olympics in 2020, Japan is already lobbying - hard - to have baseball restored to the Games. The sport was shut out of the 2012 London Olympics and won't make an appearance in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil.

A decidedly avid Japanese and Korean lobby is working for an affirmative decision on men's baseball and women's softball at a Dec. 8 meeting in Monaco of the International Olympic Committee.

"First, we have to win the vote in December," IOC president Thomas Bach told a crowd of reporters on the sidelines of the recent Asian Games in South Korea.

Short-lived Olympic gloryBaseball made its first Olympic appearance in the 1904 games in St. Louis as an "exhibition sport," and it finally became a medal sport in 1992.

In 2005, however, the IOC voted baseball out for the London Games, the first time a sport has been eliminated since polo was dropped from the 1936 Olympics. In 2009, the IOC again excluded baseball from the 2016 Games.

But the sport is hugely popular in Asia. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a survey on 1,522 respondents nationwide and found that nearly 70 percent want baseball and softball on the sports program for Tokyo 2020.

"Baseball is the hottest one in terms of support, because it has already been included in the games before and a lot of people want it to come back," says Tristan Lavier, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 organization committee. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.