Each of the 28 existing sports was put to a secret vote by the IOC, and baseball and softball were the only two that failed to receive a majority. The IOC then rejected adding squash and karate, which failed to get the necessary two-thirds approval.
IOC officials were unhappy about the absence of major leaguers. The NBA has sent its best players since 1992 and the NHL stopped its season for 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics.
“The lack of the MLB players — I think people have looked and said, ‘Well, all right, if there’s to be a change, that seems to be the logic of it,”’ British IOC member Craig Reedie said.
Cuban Baseball Federation president Carlos Rodriguez took a similar view.
“Those who bear most of the blame are the owners of the professional leagues who refuse to free up their ballplayers to compete,” he said.
The drug-testing provisions of major league baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, which are more lax than World Anti-Doping Agency rules, were cited as a factor by Australian IOC member John Coates.
“Problems with doping in U.S. baseball probably cost the sport dearly,” Coates said.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, said the IOC’s decision “won’t affect baseball very much one way or another.”
“You can’t shut down major league baseball, you just can’t do it and nobody can reasonably expect us to,” he said. “Baseball will go on just fine. It’s never depended in any way, shape or form even slightly on the Olympics.”
San Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson, until April an executive vice president in the major league commissioner’s officer, traveled to Singapore this week and was surprised by the decision.
Major league baseball and the players’ association plan to start their own 16-nation tournament, the World Baseball Classic, next March and have a launch announcement scheduled for Monday in suburban Detroit.
“Since 1990, the number of national baseball federations has grown from 60 to 122,” said Bob DuPuy, major league baseball’s chief operating officer. “By deleting baseball from its Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee has made a mistake that will adversely affect millions of sports fans worldwide.”
San Francisco Giants outfielder Michael Tucker, a 1992 Olympian, thought the IOC might restore the sports for 2016.
“It’s just a matter of what’s popular right now,” he said. “You might see poker on there.”
Dominican Baseball Federation president Hector Pereyra and Mexican Olympic Committee president Felipe Munoz intend to work toward baseball’s restoration.
“This is the moment to start the race to return to the Olympic stage in 2016,” Pereyra said.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
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