The highest-profile addition to the Tokyo Olympics will be back in the Summer Games for the first time since Beijing in 2008.
Baseball is hugely popular in Japan, and that’s one of the main reasons why the Tokyo organizers proposed its inclusion for the Olympics—although this time around, the competition will have just six teams compared to eight from the last time it was included.
“Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics,” said Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred in a press release. “The [addition] will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage.”
South Korea won the last men’s baseball gold medal in 2008 against Cuba, while the United States finished in third place with a bronze. Although baseball is back, there’s no guarantee that MLB players will participate in the Summer Games—the Olympics will take place right in the thick of the season and that could keep some players away.
Franco Carraro, who chairs the IOC’s program commission, said that talks with Major League Baseball about players participating are “very open and going in a very good way.”
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