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Baseball, Softball Will Return to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles

 Leif Skodnick  |    Oct 16th, 2023 8:15am EDT

Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, could be a potential host venue for Olympic Baseball in 2028. (Photo by Getty Images)

Staff Reports
World Baseball Network

Baseball and softball are among five sports that will be added to the program for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the International Olympic Committee announced early Monday.

Baseball and softball were dropped from Olympic competition for 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but were part of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, which were played in 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The two sports, which are governed by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, are not on the program for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

“We are delighted that baseball and softball have been confirmed as part of the sports programme at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 by the IOC Session,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari in a statement released by the WBSC. “The WBSC firmly believes that baseball and softball will help millions of fans engage with the Olympic Games, especially with USA being home to many of the sports’ best players and biggest stars from across the world.”

Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association sent a joint letter of support for the reinstatement of baseball and softball as Olympic sports for the 2028 games. Whether or not Major League Baseball players would be able to compete in Los Angeles remains to be determined.

Baseball was first played in the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport in the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a demonstration sport again in 1912 at the Stockholm Games. Baseball returned as a demonstration sport in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games, the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games, the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. A Finnish variant of baseball called Pesäpallo was a demonstration sport at the 1952 Summer games in Helsinki.

In 1984, Dodger Stadium was the baseball venue for the Summer Olympics, which featured Canada, Chinese Taipei, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Nicaragua and the United States. The eight teams were split into two divisions for three games of pool play, with the top two teams from each division advancing to the knockout stage. Japan beat the United States 6-3 in the championship game to win the gold medal, while Chinese Taipei beat South Korea 3-0 in 14 innings in the third-place game.

It has yet to be announced how many teams will compete in baseball at the 2028 Summer Games, nor which venues will be used.

The 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona was the first time baseball was a full competition sport at the Summer Games, and was played continuously through the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing before being removed from the program for 2012 and 2016.

Softball became an Olympic sport at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, and was a full competition sport for four consecutive Summer Games before being dropped from the program for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. It returned for the 2020 Games, before being dropped for 2024.

“Baseball has been in the Olympics six times and softball five times and their inclusion in LA28 will excite athletes and fans across the US and around the world, inspiring a new generation of boys and girls to chase Olympic glory,” Fraccari said. “Our ongoing efforts to develop baseball and softball globally will continue as we look ahead with much excitement to Baseball5 at the Youth Olympic Games 2026 and baseball/softball in LA28 as well as our ultimate aim of our sport earning a permanent place on the Olympic program.”

Cricket, flag football, and squash were also added to the program for the 2028 Summer Games.

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Leif Skodnick