Baseball faces stiff competition to regain a place on the 2016 Olympics. (Getty)
(ATR) Should baseball regain a place on the Olympic program for 2016, a Major League Baseball executive says the league could consider a break for the Olympics should either Chicago or Tokyo win the 2016 Olympics.
"Major League Baseball, the IBAF (International Baseball Federation) and the IOC are working diligently to have a system where our big leaguers are playing," said MLB vice-president Bob Watson.
"I think if Chicago or Tokyo would win Olympics for 2016, those countries are baseball countries, and they have venues. I believe they are trying to work up something, you have a few years to get a plan. There are a lot of moving parts but don't rule it out,” he said to reporters at the announcement in New York naming the 25-man squad for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics.
The tournament in Beijing is the last one in the Olympics for baseball unless the IOC votes to restore the sport for the 2016 Olympics.
That vote by the IOC will come a few days after the vote it will make on October 2, 2009 for a 2016 host city. Madrid and Rio de Janeiro are the two other cities in the race.
Tokyo and Chicago both have rich baseball traditions and some of the sport’s iconic venues.
Major League Baseball vice president Bob Watson.
But to return to the Olympics, baseball is scrambling with six other sports in play to join the Games, with only two spots open.
Softball, cut from the program in 2005 along with baseball is mounting a serious effort to come back. Golf, karate, roller sports, rugby and squash are the other contenders.
The IOC voted baseball off the program for at least two reasons: absence of top players at the Olympics and issues with drug testing.
Watson says MLB might consider some variation on its All-Star Game break, which took place this week around the North American league. And he says MLB is making headway on the issue of drugs.
"We're putting on a real good show around the world with baseball and I believe
Matthew LaPorta is one of 24 players on Team USA for Beijing. (Getty)
the Olympics are going to definitely want to have baseball back in the fold," he said.
Watson will serve as general manager for the squad named Wednesday in New York City.
Davey Johnson, well-known player and manager, is coach.
Team USA failed to qualify for the Athens Olympics.
Most of the roster for 2008 is composed of professional players at the AAA level, just below Major League Baseball. The players selected for the U.S. team represent 14 different MLB teams.
Team USA opens play in Beijing against South Korea August 13 at the new Wukesong complex in west Beijing. Written by Ed Hula
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