IOC's Bach says baseball, softball possible for 2020 Olympics
Baseball and softball still have a chance of being included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.
"This will be under discussion," Bach said at a news conference. "We will have the first broad discussion in December in a meeting of the executive board of the IOC, then the executive board will present its first discussion paper to the IOC session in Sochi."
Baseball and softball were dropped from the 2012 program after a 2005 vote by the IOC. The two sports merged into a single federation in a bid for inclusion in Tokyo, but lost out to wrestling in an IOC vote in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Squash also had sought a spot in the 2020 program.
Tokyo's winning bid for the 2020 Olympics has prompted calls in Japan for baseball and softball to be included when the Japanese capital hosts the games.
While the Olympic Charter states that a sport's inclusion in the program must be decided not later than the session electing the host city, Bach stressed the need to be flexible.
"I am open for more flexibility in the Olympic program," said Bach, who was elected president in September to succeed Jacques Rogge. "But first we have to see what the rest of my colleagues in the IOC think."
Baseball and softball are very popular in Japan and there are many existing facilities in the Tokyo area that could be used if the sports were included.
Bach was accompanied by IOC vice president John Coates, who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Games.
Japan is scaling down the cost of the planned 80,000-seat main stadium following an uproar from some prominent architects who think it's too big and expensive.
Coates said the IOC is open to changes as long as the cutbacks don't compromise the basic plan of the facility.
"It's inevitable that costs will be reduced," Coates said. "We are always open to that as long as the basic facility isn't compromised."
Japan has been in territorial disputes with both China and South Korea but Bach said he didn't see that as a problem that would affect the 2020 Games.
"Sport is always about building bridges and never about building walls," Bach said. "The language of sport is the language of dialogue and mutual respect, and this is why I think sport can play a positive role."
Over the past year, China has increased patrols near the Japanese-administered islands that it calls Diaoyu, and which Japan calls Senkaku.