SOCHI, Russia -- Baseball and softball's bid to return to the Olympics just might go into extra innings. After failed attempts last fall, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach left the door open for the possible return of the sports for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
Bach said Monday he would like a more flexible system in place to decide the Summer Olympic program. He also has been supportive of scrapping the 28-sport limit.
Wrestling was removed from the Games last February only to be restored at the IOC session in September. Seven sports then competed for one spot on the program for 2020. The finalists – baseball/softball, squash and wrestling – spent almost $10 million on their bids, with wrestling's budget nearing $8 million.
After Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics at that September session, momentum began to build to bring Japan's most popular sport back to the program. Baseball and softball made their last Olympic appearance in 2008 in Beijing. Softball had been in the Olympics since 1996, and baseball since 1992.
Bach said changing some of the procedures would be discussed this week. "The goal is to have more flexibility in the composition of the Olympic program," he said.
He said he hoped any changes to the sport selection procedures would be in place by the end of the year. After that, there would be a more concrete discussion of what sports would be considered for possible inclusion. He also stressed that the process of adding a new sport doesn't necessarily have to take seven years, as is the case now.