(from Sports Business Journal, September 2, 2013)
The Olympic Games will soon be adding a sport to the lineup. On September 8, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on which sport will be brought back to the games. The sports in the running are wrestling, baseball/softball, and squash. The vote will also include degrees of urgency for each sport as to when they will be added to the Games. Being added to the Olympics would be big for the sport, giving athletes worldwide recognition and bringing in new participants and sponsors. Perhaps the biggest benefit an added sport would have is a minimum of $14 million guaranteed every four years to the international federation behind the sport.
Wrestling was part of the ancient Greek Games making its return to the current Games very urgent despite being dropped earlier this year. The international federation behind wrestling, FILA, has made a number of changes recently in an attempt to get back in the Olympic lineup. The competition format has been simplified and scoring changed to encourage wrestlers to become more aggressive. Two women’s weight classes were also added which will bring in more women participants to the Olympic Games.
The IOC dropped both baseball and softball from the Games following the 2008 Games in Beijing. The two international committees joined forces to try to get the sports back in the international spotlight proposing a single venue rather than having separate stadiums for each sport. Doing this would save the hosting city millions in construction costs if it does not already have a baseball stadium. The one problem facing baseball in the Olympic Games is Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig; despite supporting the baseball bid, he says the MLB won’t send its players. The 162-game baseball season, lasting from April through September, would not take a break to send some of the world’s best to the Games.
Squash has been an Olympic sport two previous times and since being dropped. It looks to share the badminton venue, saving the costs of construction. However, critics are saying another racket sport isn’t necessary at this time.