Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympics following the 2008 Beijing Games.
Its sales pitch to IOC voters Sunday stressed a worldwide fan base of 200 million, softball’s global growth among girls and women and both sports’ youthful following on digital media. Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig voiced his support in a video but extended no promise of adjusting the MLB calendar to accommodate the Olympics.
Squash, which has never been part of the Games, was formally seeking inclusion for a third time. Its defeat, said Kevin Klipstein, chief executive of US Squash, was sure to disappoint its 15 million to 20 million participants worldwide.
“Squash overall has made a ton of progress in the last decades,” Klipstein said in a telephone interview. “We have an improved broadcast product in all five continents. Participation has doubled in the last five years. We have parity among women, not only in prize money but in participation. If and when the IOC is looking forward to including a sport that supports their ideals, we should be at the top of the list.”
Klipstein called it “a head-scratcher” that the IOC’s process these last months had not resulted in any genuine “addition” to the 2020 Olympics but rather a restoration of a sport. It was a point that Canadian IOC member Dick Pound raised Sunday, as well.
Troubled by the proliferation of Olympic sports and skyrocketing cost of staging the Games, the IOC voted in 2002 to cap the number of sports at 28, designating 25 as “core sports” and reserving three spots for sports to be added on a provisional basis.
Sunday’s victory doesn’t mean wrestling’s work is done, Lalovic cautioned, noting that the sport must redirect its momentum into a campaign to gain “core sport” status. “Our rightful place in the Olympic family is being a core sport,” Lalovic said.
But as wrestling remakes itself for the 21st century, Bender, the USA Wrestling chief, called for careful deliberation.
“It’s somewhat of a balance,” Bender said. “Those of us that are in this sport feel pretty passionate about the fact that this is the greatest sport we’ve ever known. We can’t lose sight of what’s right with wrestling and assume it needs a complete reset button.”