The international softball community--not just in the United States, but in far-reaching corners of the world such as Japan, China and Australia--were shocked late last week when word came out that the 2024 Paris Olympic Games committee had proposed that four sports--sport climbing, skateboarding, surfing and breakdancing--be included in those games while karate, baseball and softball were left out.
USA Softball has responded to the developments with a release that was just sent out; here is the official stance issued by the National Governing Body of the sport in the United States...
The Paris Organizing Committee met recently to determine which sports would make up the 2024 Olympic Program and decided upon breakdancing, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing to make the final cut of shortlisted sports. The decision comes after the groundbreaking Olympic Agenda 2020 passed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that gives Olympic host cities the right to propose sports that are popular in the host country and add to the appeal of the Games.
“We’ve taken our time to truly take in what Paris 2024’s decision means, not only to USA Softball as a whole but to the sport that means so much to people all around the globe,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer, Craig Cress. “While disheartening, the response we’ve seen from the softball community is a resounding display that our sport will continue to thrive and grow. We won’t give up, the work never ends - but we can promise you that our athletes will continue to compete each year and proudly represent our great nation on the international stage and we encourage fans to continue their loyal support of softball. We also stand with the international softball community in the fight for inclusion in future Olympic Games and we will continue to work with groups who value the growth of our sport both domestically and internationally.”
The IOC still needs to give final approval to the choices made by the Paris 2024 organizers during the executive board in December 2020.
Announced on August 3, 2016, baseball/softball was one of five new sports added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Program. Softball and baseball’s global reach, loyal fan base and positioning across many of the biggest sports markets continues to offer a unique opportunity to further spread and elevate the Olympic brand. Other factors considered in the sports package included the impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports and the legacy value of adding them to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
In case you missed it, below is an article we published last Friday when the news initially hit regarding the exclusion of the two "bat and ball" sports from the 2024 Games...
Originally published on Extra Inning Softball Friday, February 22, 2019 (5:05 pm EST)
A long and miserable winter just got longer and colder for those of us in softball hoping to see the sport thrive in the Olympic Games as the organizing committee of the 2024 Paris Olympics announced they would not recommend baseball/softball (looked upon as one sport by the International Olympic Committee) and karate be added.
Instead, the sports the committee voted to support includes sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing—which like baseball and softball will be in the 2020 Tokyo Games—and… wait for it… breakdancing.
Please hold your outrage to a dull roar.
Tony Estanguet, the head of the Paris committee, said the organizers will recommend those four sports only. Baseball and softball will return for the first time in 2020 after missing the two previous summer games and be two of the 33 sports.
The International Olympic Committee will vote on the four proposed sports in December 2020.
Softball had been in the summer Olympic games from 1996 to 2008 and won Gold medals in 1996, 2000, 2004 and a Silver medal in 2008.
The USA Team qualified last year for the Tokyo Games next year by winning the WBSC in 2018. Japan automatically qualified as the host country. The four remaining slots will be decided by qualifiers in zones across the world: top two sports in the Americas, the winner of the Europe-Africa zone and the winner of the Asia-Oceania zone.
But beyond that, it appears that, unless something drastically changes, the dreams of little girls across the world to play softball in the Olympics after next year is once again uncertain.
Said one mother of two talented pre-college softball players, the oldest an Extra Elite 100 honoree committed to a Top 25 program: “It’s a giant step backwards for the sport. Our family is incredibly disappointed in the Olympic committee and in their decision.”
“Millions of fans around the world of this sport will be shocked. With all the growth of the sport, it’s a real blow to see this happen, especially for the reasons stated. We wish that more thought would be put in this decision. It shatters the dreams of tens of thousands of girls.”
Ironically, the USA Softball Jr. National team is scheduled this summer to compete in Paris, ostensibly to help promote the sport in Europe. It will be interesting to see if that trip continues and, if so, how the trip will be received (we have reached out to USA Softball for their official stance; we’ll update when a release or article from the U.S. governing body of softball is published).
Stay tuned for more on this stunning news.. and bundle up, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.
-- Brentt Eads, Extra Inning Softball