Baseball wants joint Olympic bid with softball
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Baseball wants to join forces with softball in an effort to gain reinstatement to the Olympics for the 2016 Summer Games.
The presidents of the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation are scheduled to meet Thursday in Orlando, Florida, to discuss baseball's idea.
Because the sports are among seven competing for a maximum of two openings on the 2016 program, baseball argues that a joint bid would improve both its own chances and those of the women's sport.
Don Porter, the softball federation president, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that while he'll listen to what baseball has to say, a joint bid is less than likely to happen "because we have to find some assurance -- more than there is now -- that it would be more than helpful for us to regain our Olympic status."
"There's always a possibility, but it's a matter of where our discussion leads to," he said. "We're in a fight for our lives for our sport. We'll see where they're coming from."
In a separate telephone interview Wednesday, IBAF president Harvey Schiller said that the two sports would help each other get added to the 2016 program. Schiller said the move also would let the IOC accommodate three of the sports bidding, rather than two.
In 2005, the IOC voted to drop baseball and softball for the 2012 London Olympics.
The two sports are now vying with rugby, golf, squash, karate and roller sports for inclusion in the 2016 Games. The decision on which sports to add will be made in October during the IOC session at Copenhagen, where the International Olympic Committee will also select the 2016 city from among the four finalists -- Chicago, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.
Last week, baseball and softball submitted separate bid proposals to the IOC, along with the five other sports. It's unclear whether the IOC would consider a joint bid.
"Let's not speculate. We have received two separate questionnaires at this point," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said by e-mail Thursday.
Several baseball federations, including those of Japan, Europe and Africa, have written to the IBAF supporting the idea of a joint bid with softball, according to Schiller, a former executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
"We believe that such a joint bid should enhance the chance for each of our two sports," the Baseball Federation of Japan said in a letter to Schiller this week.
Softball officials have said that their sport was hurt by baseball's doping scandals, as well as the sport's inability to ensure that top players would participate in the Olympics -- which are held during the major league season.
In a visit to Tokyo last week, Schiller said the IBAF has proposals that would allow major league players to participate, such as cramming the entire competition into five days.
Schiller also said during that trip that he was pleased with the cooperation he was getting from MLB on doping. Tokyo is among four cities, along with Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, bidding to host the 2016 Olympics.
Last year, Porter said softball needed to "keep our distance from baseball so we're not tied to them."
Asked about that Wednesday, he said, "It's nothing negative against baseball. It's just we have our own direction we want to take our sport."
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