Baseball Reflections

Reasons softball will not be in the 2024 Olympic

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dropped softball as a sport from the 2024 Summer Olympics which is taking place in Paris. The IOC has cited many reasons to remove it from the Olympics. It has sparked outrage from many softball players and coaches.

Let’s study the reasons in detail due to which softball is not a sport in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

IOC’s historical reluctance of softball in Olympics

According to baseball and softball’s official governing body, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), George Hancock introduced indoor baseball as a recreational game on November 24, 1887 while awaiting the results of the Harvard-Yale football game with a broomstick and boxing glove as the first softball equipment.

Hancock defined the first set of rules for indoor baseball in 1889. Walter Hakanson officially renamed the indoor baseball as softball during a National Recreation Congress meeting in 1926.

Despite the popularity of softball, the IOC has been very reluctant to recognize the importance of softball as a sport for the Olympics. Countries including Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States requested the IOC to recognize softball as an official sport since the 1940s but IOC rejected the requests.

IOC Secretary Lydia Zanchi refused to include softball in July 1965 on the grounds that a sport must be played in twenty five countries of the world to be recognized by the IOC. Once the number of softballs playing countries increased, the IOC recognized softball as an official sport during the seventy-ninth session of IOC in Prague in 1977.

International Softball Federation (ISF) finally succeeded in its long quest of convincing the IOC to add softball as a women-only sport into the 1996 Olympics during the ninety-seventh session of the IOC in Birmingham on June 13, 1991.

Softball was played three more times in the Olympics. On July 8, 2005, ESPN reported that the IOC dropped softball from the 2012 Olympics. They provided the reason that it was a predominantly American game and ineligible to be played on a global stage. The IOC brought back softball for the 2020 Olympics.

IOC still has not given much preference to softball. Now 134 years have passed since the invention of softball. Softball has been included into the Olympics only five times throughout its 134-year history.

On February 21, 2019, IOC dropped baseball, softball and karate from the 2024 Olympics as reported by the New York Times.

Recommendation of host cities to add sports

During the one twenty-ninth session of the IOC in 2016, the IOC added a new policy which allowed the Olympic host city to recommend sports to add in the respective Olympic Games. Tokyo hosted the 2020 Olympics.

Under this policy, the Tokyo Organizing Committee recommended five sports to the IOC to be included in the games. Softball was among one of those five games. Softball is a very popular sport in Japan. The Japanese men’s and women’s teams are currently ranked at #2 in WBSC world rankings. The Japanese women’s team has won the Softball World Cup four times.

As a result, the IOC added softball to the 2020 edition, which marked the return of softball to the Olympics as a one-off sport in twelve years.

This recommendation was also a reason for the IOC excluding softball from the 2024 Olympics. The Paris Organizing Committee voted to exclude softball or baseball from the game. A major reason is that baseball and softball are very minor sports in France. These are not very popular over there.

No appeal to French audience

Softball is one of the most popular sports among Americans. According to an estimate by Athletic Scholarships, about 40 million American people play softball at least once a year. Due to the huge popularity of softball in the United States, many people perceive softball as a predominantly American sport. Children and adults buy softball equipment in bulk to support their favorite teams.

The IOC provides the reasoning that softball is a regional sport which is not popular enough in other countries of the world. As a result, the IOC believes that softball is not worthy to be included in an international competition. The IOC dropped softball from the 2012 Olympics for the same reason.

Softball does not appeal to the French masses due to its lack of popularity over there. Consequently, there are not many softball venues in Paris to host large scale softball tournaments in the Olympics. Different types of baseballs and softball matches are held on just 1 or 2 venues.

Cost reduction

As reported by Reuters in 2018, the French government warned that the budget of the 2024 Olympics was exceeding the investment of 1.5 billion euros.

Tony Estanguet, the former three-time Olympic C1 champion and head of the Paris Organization Committee, announced during the SportAccord convention that the committee planned to work within the public investment of 1.5 billion euros.

It is a priority for the committee to maintain the budget. As a result, the IOC has reduced the athlete quota for the 2024 Olympics to a total of 10,500 athletes. The IOC has minimized the number of team sports in the Olympics. Softball is not a priority for the French organizers and audiences therefore the organizers have excluded the sport.

Conclusion

The primary reason for the Paris organizers of the 2024 Olympics and the IOC is the lack of appeal of softball to the French nation.

The officials of WBSC are trying to capitalize on the popularity of softball in the US. They are pursuing the organizers of the 2028 Olympics with hopes of inclusion of softball into the 2028 edition which is being held in Los Angeles.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Reasons softball will not be in the 2024 Olympic – Baseball Reflections | The Globe

  2. Pingback: Reasons softball will not be in the 2024 Olympic – Baseball Reflections | Olympic Games 2024

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