After a 2005 vote removed it from the 2012 Olympics in London, baseball and softball will officially be reinstated as an Olympic sport for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as announced in a unanimous decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday afternoon. Little League® International shares in the excitement behind the decision, which will bring further exposure to the sports of baseball and softball to millions of children around the world.
“Little League is excited to hear that baseball and softball will be back into the Olympics starting in 2020. The IOC’s decision is important in helping to provide critical support for the future of these sports and strengthen youth opportunities around the world,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “With the inclusion of these sports back into the Olympics, young baseball and softball players can now once again aspire towards the opportunity to represent their country in hopes of a gold medal in the future.”
As the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and more than 80 other countries, Little League Baseball and Softball provides the structure and opportunity for future, potential Olympians to begin those dreams. In addition to baseball and softball, the IOC approved vote also includes karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing, with a key focus on youth, which is at the heart of the Games vision for Tokyo 2020.
Little League has a storied history in Japan, as this decision comes just a few weeks before the country looks to defend its title at the 2016 Little League Baseball® World Series Championship, with Chofu Little League from Tokyo representing the Japan Region. Last year’s 18-11 championship victory over the Red Land Little League (Pennsylvania), of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region, gave Japan its 10th Little League Baseball World Series title, putting it second all-time behind Chinese Taipei (17). This year will mark the 27th time that a local Little League team has represented Japan in Williamsport, winning its first World Series Championship in 1967. The 2016 Little League Baseball World Series will take place in South Williamsport, Pa., from August 18-28. For more information, visit LLBWS.org.