13 October: WBSC reflects on exciting Olympic future on the day baseball became an Olympic sport in 1986

13 October: WBSC reflects on exciting Olympic future on the day baseball became an Olympic sport in 1986
13/10/2021
On 13 October 1986, IOC Session 91 in Lausanne voted baseball an Olympic medal sport. After making its comeback at Tokyo 2020, baseball/softball aims to become a permanent feature in the Games.

"After our successful return to the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020, I am very excited about the future of our sport in the Olympic Movement," WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said as the international baseball community remembers the 35th anniversary of baseball being voted on to the programme of the Olympic Games on 13 October, 1986.

"There are many reasons to be optimistic, especially considering the positive reaction to having baseball and softball back on the Olympic stage at Tokyo 2020. Not to mention having our newest discipline, Baseball5, making its debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in 2026 while we're also looking forward to having the Olympic Games returning soon to the birthplace of our sport at LA 2028, where baseball and softball are a huge-hit."

On 13 October 1986, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session 91 in Lausanne, Switzerland, voted baseball onto the programme of the Olympic Games.

The International Baseball Association president Robert Smith and his vice president Aldo Notari, who would succeed him in 1993, waited outside for the voting result. IOC Member for Cuba Manuel Gonzalez Guerra, a former president of the Association, broke the news.

Notari compared baseball becoming an Olympic sport to having a child.

"It is difficult to describe how I feel; we have just reached the goal we have been fighting for throughout our lives," Notari said. "It is the same kind of joy a father experiences when he has his first son."

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The IOC had inserted baseball as a demonstration sport at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. The Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB) gave the IBA instrumental support.

"We guaranteed against losses," recalled Peter O'Malley, then the principal owner of the Dodgers. "I was confident that the games in Dodger Stadium would be successful."

No insurance was needed, as the Olympic baseball attendance averaged a staggering 48,000 spectators per game. At the end of the baseball tournament, won by Japan, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was quoted as follows: "The success of baseball in Los Angeles convinced me, baseball can be a medal sport."

The first medals for Olympic baseball were handed out at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona with softball following soon after in 1996.

On 7 July 2005, IOC Session 117 voted baseball and softball out of the Olympic programme with neither featuring at the 2012 and 2016 Games.

On 28 September 2015, a joint bid by baseball and softball was approved by IOC session 129 in Rio de Janeiro. Baseball and softball made their successful comeback to the Games at the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020.

More on the history of Olympic baseball/softball in chapters 7, 9, 11, 19, 28 of the book The Game We Love