Regensburg, Germany (heinnews) – Baseball’s world governing body knows that Major League Baseball will not shut its season down for nearly two weeks to send its players to the Olympics. So the IBAF is pitching a new shortened format as the focus of its Olympic inclusion bid, hoping the IOC will consider it a home run for the 2020 Olympics.
IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari told heinnews that the body will be proposing an eight-team baseball tournament with two round robin groups of four teams that lasts only six days.
“There will be three days of group games, a rest day and then the semi-finals and finals,” said Fraccari.
This would shorten the amount of time MLB players and athletes from other professional leagues around the world would miss from their clubs and leagues. The previous Olympic baseball tournaments also had eight teams but they were all in one round robin group, meaning a total of 10 days for the games but not including the nations travelling to and from the Olympics
“If I go to MLB and ask them to shut down the season for 10 days it’s not going to happen,” said Fraccari.
“I think this is more realistic.”
Fraccari was in Regensburg, Germany for the World Baseball Classic qualifier. He was busy answering questions by an IOC evaulation team, looking into baseball’s eventual bid.
“The IOC isn’t saying anything of course. But they ask very many things,” said Fraccari.
“They want to know about how we organise the event, how we select the teams, the umpires, etc. And we gave them all the information. But my impression is that they were really impressed with the global organization and the attendance here.”
Baseball is on a shortlist of sports trying to make the Olympics. The IOC kicked baseball and softball out of the 2012 Olympics in July 2005. It was the first sport to be voted out of the Summer Games since polo for the 1936 Olympics.
The IOC’s biggest issues were with baseball’s anti-doping regulations as well as including professional athletes in the games.
Fracarri said baseball has imposed much stricter doping guidelines, including blood testing, making baseball one of the few sports which allow blood samples to be analysed. And he is hoping the shortened format will be enough to convince MLB to let their players go – should baseball get the nod.
The baseball and softball federations are expected to meet in October to form a singular federation before submitting a bid to the IOC executive board in December.
The IOC executive board will compare baseball’s proposal with those of the other sports, including climbing, karate, roller sports, squash, wakeboard and wushu. The IOC board will select one single sport and submit it to the IOC Congress in Buenos Aires in September 2013. The 2020 Olympic host city will be chosen as well as the IOC president and if there will be a new or returning Olympic sport.