The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision not to add baseball and softball to the program for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games will not affect the nation’s development in baseball, the Sports Affairs Administration (SAA) said yesterday.
After baseball and softball were voted out of last year’s Olympics in London, many saw the IOC’s meeting this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as an opportunity to revive the two sports at the the quadrennial games.
However, their hopes were dashed on Sunday after wrestling drew more than 50 percent of the votes at the committee, thrashing the combined bid of baseball and softball, as well as that of squash.
The committee also voted on Saturday for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympic Games. It is scheduled to announce the new IOC president tonight, with Taiwanese candidate Wu Ching-kuo (吳經國) one of six candidates running for the post.
In response to the decision on baseball and softball, SAA Director-General Ho Jow-fei (何卓飛) said it did not come as a surprise.
“We have seen reports of how Japan and some of the European countries jointly signed a statement asking the IOC to support wrestling in its bid to return to the Olympics,” Ho said. “The number of countries in which wrestling enjoys some support also exceeds that of baseball. Based on these two factors, we thought that wrestling had a better chance than baseball of being included in the Olympic Games.”
Ho said another factor was the reluctance of Major League Baseball in the US to allow its top players to compete in the Olympics, which has diminished viewer interest in watching Olympic baseball games.
Nevertheless, Ho said that the IOC’s decision would not affect the development of baseball in Taiwan, adding that it would remain one of the key sports supported by the government.
Despite the setback, some still have hopes for the sport to return to the Olympics.
“The World Baseball Softball Confederation will not give up hope, and there remains a chance for baseball to be listed as an Olympics sport,” Chinese Taipei Baseball Association secretary-general Lin Tsung-cheng (林宗成) said.
Lin said that the new IOC president may have different thoughts on the sports included in the Olympics. He added that baseball and softball are popular sports in Japan, and it is possible that Tokyo might try to push for a change in regulations as a host country of the Games.
However, Lin said that some nations may decide to curtail government funding for baseball after the IOC ruling. Regarding the chance of baseball being considered again, Ho said it is certainly the desire of the nation.
“Baseball is our national sport. We have a great chance of garnering medals in baseball because of our ability to compete at international-level games,” Ho said.
Asked whether the nation would start focusing on developing wrestling instead, Ho said that would depend on athletes’ performances at world-class competitions.
“Our athletes would have to work exceedingly hard to stand up to the competition in wrestling,” Ho said. “We still need to consider our priorities [of allocating resources] if there is no extraordinary performance in this category.”