When you think of the Winter Olympics, baseball and softball do not come to mind. You likely think of snow, ice, and in the case of this year’s Olympics in Sochi, all of the unique challenges of the location. It is reasonable to think that you would not associate baseball or softball with this year’s Winter Olympics. But as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports, the fate of those two summer sports might be decided by the I.O.C. while they are convened in Sochi:
Baseball and softball were last contested as Olympic sports in 2008, and the IOC voted in September against bringing them back for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. (Wrestling was kept instead.) But the IOC may reconsider that decision because of the revenue possibilities — at the gate and through television ratings — in the baseball-mad host country. “Tokyo’s local organizing committee is said to be lobbying quietly for new IOC President Thomas Bach to give baseball and softball another hearing. If attendance at the World Baseball Classic is any guide, the Japanese team likely would play before massive crowds in Tokyo; interest would be especially high if Nippon Professional Baseball, the top professional league in Japan, agreed to go on hiatus so the country’s best players could compete.”
The comparison to the World Baseball Classic doesn’t hold up for too long because of the fact that it is played when other professional leagues are not in season. Having said that, this consideration is specific to the location in which the Olympics will be held (Tokyo). That makes this a more intriguing conversation, and certainly something to monitor moving forward.