Baseball and softball have joined forces in hopes of being reinstated for the 2020 Olympics, but are banking on a deal with the MLB that would commit its players to part of the Olympic tournament.
“We need the utmost support from MLB to get past May,” Baseball Federation President Riccardo Fraccari told the AP. “We’re still negotiating.”
The sports were ousted from the Olympic schedule after the Beijing Games, and will go up against seven other prospective sports – including wrestling and squash – in a IOC executive committee vote May 29 in St. Petersburg. That vote will determine which of the eight will then be voted on by the entire IOC membership this September to fill the one open slot at the 2020 Games.
The Baseball federation has a key presentation just ahead of the May meeting, and would love to be able to offer the IOC some professional talent in the semis and finals. Of course, that would require the MLB to either suspend play for a short period, or allow its top stars to leave and join up with their national squads.
“If we make it past this step there are a lot more cards to play,” he added. “There are a lot of IOC members from Latin America who support baseball. The executive committee is one thing, the congress is another.”
Another option is to schedule the All-Star game around the Olympics, but that’s difficult because the annual event typically takes place in mid-July, and recent Olympics have come closer to August.
Fraccari also has no idea how to pay for the estimated $9 million in insurance to cover the pro players competing in the Games, but believes the growth and popularity of the WBC has helped the sports’ chances of reclaiming a spot on the Olympics schedule.