06/15/09 11:33 AM ET
Baseball makes its pitch for '16 Olympics
Pledges best eligible players, TV blackouts during games
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
All four potential host cities for 2016 already have established baseball venues and domestic baseball programs in place. The MLB offer not to broadcast any games in direct competition with the 2016 Olympic baseball schedule, or have any games on its schedule on the climactic day of Olympic medal play. The participation of eligible "elite players" around the world; cited as examples were de Jong and Bryce Harper, the 16-year-old Las Vegas phenom recently featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Schiller was confident in the presentation's effectiveness. "We feel that we have not just addressed the issues that were presented as to why baseball was removed for 2012," said the IBAF president, "but have also outlined the most effective way in which the Olympic program can work with baseball's year-round global marketing capabilities over the next seven years to maximize Olympic exposure. "Baseball has shown it will do whatever it takes, from the grassroots to the professional level, to be not just a partner, but the best partner, for the Olympic movement." In an exclusive interview with MLB.com during the last Summer Olympics in Beijing, IOC president Jacques Rogge said that the need for marquee players is important, but wasn't the only reason baseball was removed from the program. He also said adding top players is no assurance of reinstatement.
"To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible," Rogge said. "You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met."A key to the sport's reinstatement is participation of the best eligible players, a mission for which Fehr pledged the players union's full support. "The MLBPA has and will continue to work ... to come up with the best scenario so that more top players will be able to participate," Fehr said, "and fulfill the dream of representing their countries in the Olympic Games. We will make sure that happens, and the 2016 Olympics will have the best representation of players ever to participate in any Olympics. "I am confident that MLB and the MLBPA ... will make available to the qualifying countries a to-be-determined number of top players, with the rest of the roster coming from the best athletes available from the professional ranks. The teams will have a sampling of the best individuals in the sport, and the best-ever representative national teams." The other sports vying for inclusion in the 2016 Games are softball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens and squash. The 15-member IOC board taking in the presentations is expected to decide on the two "winners" when it meets in mid-August. Its choices then will be voted upon in early October by the full IOC membership.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.