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Baseball at the Olympics : everything you need to know

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baseball at the olympics Cuban baseball team winning the gold medal in 2004
Cuban baseball team winning the gold medal in 2004 Image by courtesy of WBSC

The Olympic Games have always been a symbol of excellence, bringing together athletes from around the world to show off their talents and represent their country.


While baseball was absent from the Olympics for more than a decade after 2008, it made a strong comeback on the Tokyo 2021 Olympics program. Unfortunately, it will not be an Olympic discipline at the Paris Olympics in 2024. It will likely take fans and players alike to wait for Los Angeles 2028 to finally launch into a series of exciting competitions.


It will be an opportunity for baseball to shine on the international stage and for players to compete again for the ultimate prize: a gold medal.


As we approach the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, let us take a closer look at baseball's exciting rise to the Olympics and what it means for the sport and its fans.




The history of baseball at the Olympic Games


Baseball has been present at the Olympic Games sporadically for more than a century, often as a demonstration sport, in the form of games or tournaments without a medal endowment, or as an "additional sport".


It was included for the first time at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Eight teams competed in the Olympic competition, with Cuba winning the gold medal.


Baseball was again featured on the Olympic program at the Atlanta Games in 1996. It was included in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2008 Games in Beijing, always with 8 teams.


However, the sport was removed from the program by the Organizing Committee of the Games after the Beijing Games due to an alleged lack of international interest. In addition, it requires a specialized playground and relatively expensive equipment.



Olympic gold medal table since 1992

Games

Year

Gold medal

Barcelona

1992

Cuba

Atlanta

1996

Cuba

Sydney

2000

USA

Athens

2004

Cuba

Beijing

2008

South Korea

Tokyo

2020/2021

Japan


However, the sport has continued to expand around the world, with emerging professional leagues in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia.




Baseball returned to the Olympics in 2021


Baseball returned to the Olympic family at the 2021 Games in Tokyo, Japan, which ran from July 28 to August 7, 2021. Six teams competed for the Olympic title. The qualified teams were Japan (as host), USA, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Israel and Mexico.


The Japanese team won the gold medal and became Olympic champions after a hard-fought match against the United States, which won the silver medal. The Dominican Republic won the bronze medal and was able to climb on the third step of the podium.


You can watch the replay of the match Japan vs United States by clicking on this link (4 hours of play anyway!)


The Tokyo Olympics provided a unique opportunity for baseball players to represent their country and compete for the gold medal.


is baseball at the olympics Japanese baseball team winning the gold medal in Tokyo
Japanese baseball team winning the gold medal in 2021 Image by courtesy of WBSC

Baseball has once again made its mark. The sport has grown steadily around the world, with expanding professional leagues and competitive national teams.



The popularity of baseball around the world


Baseball is a popular sport on many continents around the world. It is particularly popular in North America, Latin America and Asia.


The United States has several professional baseball leagues ; the most popular one, Major League Baseball (MLB), has thirty teams. This country has won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the Olympic Games.


Baseball is also popular in Latin America, where it is often considered the national sport. Cuban baseball teams won three gold medals at the Olympics and two silver medals, while Dominican baseball teams won their first bronze medal at the 2020/2021 Olympics.


In Asia, baseball is also a widespread sport. Japan also has a professional baseball league, Nippon Professional Baseball(NPB), which has 12 teams. South Korea won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (a total of two Olympic medals since 1992), while Japan won the goldmedal at the Tokyo Olympics in its own country in 2021 and counts a total of four medals since 1992.



The Future of Baseball at the Olympics


With this global popularity, our sport is likely to be more often present at the Olympic Games after 2024.


If new disciplines appeared at Tokyo 2020 such as surfing, climbing, skateboarding and breakdancing and were maintained at Paris 2024, this is not the case for baseball. We can imagine that France was not very well equipped to receive the other teams, certainly all a much higher level than the French baseball team, let us be clear.


The Youth Olympic Games in Dakar 2026 will evaluate the public's international interest in new sports, including baseball5, this new discipline close to baseball and softball, with simplified rules, more accessible and faster play.



is baseball at the olympics people playing baseball5
A new sport at the Olympics baseball5 Image by courtesy of WBSC


In addition, it is almost certain that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will soon announce that baseball will be included in the program of the Los Angeles Games in 2028, due to the great popularity oft his sport in the United States, especially in Los Angeles where the largest baseball field in the world is located, the Dodger Stadium.


According to the IOC website, we can also imagine that baseball will be present at the Olympic Games in Brisbane, Australia in 2032.


Baseball will not be back at Paris 2024, as it was an additional sport at Tokyo 2020.
...
But looking for the longer term, with the 2028 and 2032 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles and Brisbane respectively, in countries where baseball is very popular, it is likely that this sport will return to the program sooner than expected.

However, it is not clear that baseball will be permanently included in the Olympic program in the post-2032 Olympics.




Conclusion


The return of baseball to the Youth Olympic Games in 2026 in the form of baseball5, the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games (we believe) and perhaps Brisbane which will host the 2032 Olympic Games is great news for fans of the sport, even if we regret its absence in Paris 2024.


This "Olympic window" helps promote baseball globally and increase interest in the sport around the world.


The Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in 2026 will provide a unique opportunity for Baseball5 competitors to introduce this new sport and represent their country again while competing for the gold medal.


Fans from all over the world will likely be able to watch high-profile matches on site, live on TV or on line.


Baseball is an ever-growing sport around the world and the sport's return to the Olympic adventure can only reinforce its status as a popular sport.





Sources and links for this post








---> All photos come from the WBSC website and are its property







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