野球の五輪落選 魅力をどう世界に広めるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 16, 2009)
IOC decision tough on baseball, softball
野球の五輪落選 魅力をどう世界に広めるか(8月16日付・読売社説)

Even if Tokyo is chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games, we will not be able to enjoy watching the battle for baseball and softball medals.

The International Olympic Committee executive board has selected golf and rugby sevens for proposed inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games. The board will submit the two sports for ratification by the IOC Assembly in Copenhagen in October.

Baseball and softball, which have been dropped from the Olympic program for the 2012 London Games, failed in their comeback bids. As both are sports Japan had a chance of winning gold medals in, it was a regrettable outcome for this nation.


Baseball stars failed to speak

Baseball is only popular in a few regions around the world, and this may be the main reason it was dropped from the Olympic program. While baseball is popular in Japan and the United States, it cannot be denied that in Europe it lags well behind other popular sports, such as soccer, and is a minor sport there.

The failure of U.S. Major League Baseball's leading players to state whether they would participate in the Games also affected the outcome. In contrast, leading golfer Tiger Woods appealed to the board for his sport to be included in the 2016 Summer Games.

The participation of star players increases interest in a sporting event, which in turn allows higher broadcasting rights fees to be charged, bringing in increased funds for the IOC.

This fact undoubtedly formed the basis of the decision to select golf and not baseball for proposed inclusion in the 2016 Olympics.

Allegations of performance-enhancing drug use by MLB players may also have been a key factor behind the IOC's decision, as the committee has toughened its stance on doping.

There is no doubt the World Baseball Classic will continue to be seen as an important event. To spread baseball's appeal around the world, efforts must be made to improve the standing of this competition that determines the world's number one national baseball team.

In the second WBC, which was held in March, it was great to see that the competitiveness of European baseball teams had greatly improved. This is encouraging in terms of promoting the internationalization of the game.

If Japan and the United States continue to play a leading role in promoting the sport around the globe, such improvements in the skill level of emerging baseball nations should lead to the return of the game to the Olympic program in the future.

The IOC decision also came as a huge shock to softballers, for whom participation in the Olympics was their main goal. Maintaining the high standards that saw the Japanese national team win the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has now become a pressing issue.


Good news for golfers

If golf is officially included in the 2016 Summer Games, we would be able to cheer on Ryo Ishikawa and Ai Miyazato as they drive for gold.

If Tokyo hosts that Games, the inclusion of the two players would make the Olympics even more exciting.

On Oct. 2, the IOC will pick the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. We hope the nation's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games continues to gain momentum.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 16, 2009)
(2009年8月16日01時39分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-16 08:08 | 英字新聞

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