Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Baseball Federation approves union with softball

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Via unanimous, albeit mail-in, vote, the International Baseball Federation officially approved a merger with softball’s governing body Thursday so the two could join forces in a joint bid that will aim at getting the sports back in the Olympics by the 2020 Games.

“This is another critical step in the long-term prosperity and development of softball and baseball worldwide,” IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari told the Associated Press in Switzerland. “We look forward to presenting an exceptional value proposal to the Olympic movement for 2020 and beyond.”

Softball approved the union back in October.

Both sports were excommunicated from the Games during an IOC vote in 2005 and were last played in Beijing. They then both lost out to golf and rugby sevens when they were up for reinstatement for the Rio Olympics back in 2009.

The federations believe they can operate better as a team, and be the one sport chosen by the IOC when its members vote next September in Argentina. The pair will be up against Karate, roller sports, wushu, sport climbing, wakeboard, and squash, which seems to making the biggest push of all.

Olympic flame arrives in Brazil (video)

Brazil Olympic flame
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BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The Brazilian torch relay for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has kicked off with volleyball player Fabiana Claudino running the first leg after the torch was ignited by embattled President Dilma Rousseff.

Rousseff says “Brazil is ready to host the most successful Olympics in history.”

The Olympic flame arrived in a lantern on a flight from Switzerland a few hours earlier and was taken to the Planalto presidential palace.

The three-month relay across Brazil, ending at the opening ceremony on Aug. 5 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio, will involve 329 cities and 12,000 torchbearers. Rio organizers hope it will build enthusiasm for the games, which has lagged as Brazil battles bribery and corruption scandals and its deepest recession in decades.

The start of the relay comes just a week before the Brazilian senate is expected to suspend Rousseff for six months as it considers her impeachment.

MORE: Rio Olympic flame will live downtown — not in stadium

Michael Phelps left with one meet before Olympic Trials

Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps could face his lightest-ever competition run-up to an Olympic Trials after opting not to swim at a meet in Atlanta next week.

Last week, Phelps noted one other scheduled meet before the U.S. Olympic Trials (June 26-July 3). That’s in Austin, Texas, from June 3-5.

In his previous four Olympic cycles, Phelps swam at least two meets in the final two months before the Olympic Trials, according to USA Swimming statistics.

Phelps’ training plan in May and June will be impacted by the impending birth of his first child. Fiancée Nicole Johnson is 36 weeks pregnant, according to her Instagram.

Without Phelps, the Atlanta meet is expected to include five-time 2015 World champion Katie Ledecky, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian and rising sprint freestyler Caeleb Dressel.

VIDEO: Phelps’ interview with Matt Lauer