Baseball and softball eye Olympic return16 October 2012
BASEBALL/ SOFTBALL: The International baseball and softball federations have signed an agreement for their joint bid to get back into the Olympics, and are proposing a shortened tournament they hope will attract major league baseball players.
The International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation announced a memorandum of understanding Monday to move ahead with their proposed merger into one body. An eight-person joint committee will oversee the merger.
Baseball and softball were voted off the Olympic program in 2005, making their last appearance at the 2008 Beijing Games. They are bidding to be reinstated for the 2020 Games.
Australia has a strong history in softball. The women have won an impressive three bronze medals and one silver, medalling in every edition of softball since the sport was introduced to the Olympic program in 1996.
The Australian men won baseball silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
The sports are preparing a presentation to the IOC's Olympic Program Commission in December. The merger still requires approval from the IBAF and ISF congresses.
IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari is proposing a six-day Olympic baseball tournament featuring eight teams, and would be open to having MLB players just for the semifinals and finals.
The IOC will vote in September 2013 to add one sport. Karate, roller sports, squash, sports climbing, wakeboard and wushu are also in contention.
AP and Olympics.com.au