Major League Baseball (MLB) stars have paved the way for the sport to return to the Olympic program at the 2028 Los Angeles (LA) Games.Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported on Wednesday that the MLB has received confirmation from the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) secretariat that it will participate in the Los Angeles Games, citing World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fricari, who attended the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board meeting in Mumbai, India.”If the return of baseball to the Olympic program in Los Angeles is confirmed, MLB players will participate, and the MLB players’ union has agreed,” Kyodo added.
The final decision on the 2028 Olympic program will be made at the IOC Session in Mumbai from July 15-17.Baseball and softball were introduced as demonstration sports at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and became official sports at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.The sport was removed from the program at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, returned for a limited time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and was removed again at the 2024 Paris Olympics.The biggest reason for baseball’s on-again, off-again status is a conflict between the IOC and MLB.The IOC pressured MLB to allow its athletes to compete in the Olympics, but the league argued that it was too busy in the middle of its season to do so.
The 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Games had no problems with amateur athletes, but the conflict began in earnest at the 2000 Sydney Games when professional athletes were allowed to compete.While South Korea and Japan sent their best players to the Olympics, the United States fielded mostly minor leaguers and never lived up to its reputation as a “baseball nation,” winning just one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals at the Games.Instead, MLB created the World Baseball Classic (WBC), an all-major league tournament, which has been played six times between 2006 and this year.If the MLB secretariat continues to approve MLB athletes to compete in the Olympics, the likelihood of baseball remaining an Olympic sport after the LA Games increases.Kyodo News reported, “It is possible that Shohei Ohtani will compete in the Olympics. Whether or not the MLB season will be suspended is undecided,” and “Precari said he was confident that ‘baseball is the top candidate for the 스포츠토토존 LA Olympic Organizing Committee.'”