PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Baseball owners were given a briefing about the possible re-entry of the sport into the 2016 Summer Olympics on Thursday by the president of the International Baseball Federation. "The reaction was good," said Harvey Schiller, who addressed the owners at their first joint meeting of the year on Thursday. "They know it's within their best interests to get back into the Olympic program. The big statement is getting the best players in there." This past November, Schiller was among a group of baseball officials who gave members of the International Olympic Committee assurances that an effort will be made to send some of the game's best professional players if it is reinstated as a gold medal sport.
Accordingly, a statement from Commissioner Bud Selig was read into the record at the meeting of the IOC's program committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. "The 2016 Olympics will have the best representation of professional players in Olympic history," said Selig, whose current contract as Commissioner ends in 2012 when he's 78 years old. Selig said on Thursday that his latest position was not much of a change from his past posture in which said the baseball season will not stop to make way for the Olympics. "I don't think there really was a departure from my views on the subject," Selig said. "We'd like to be flexible. We'd like to be back in. We'd like to help. We'd like to do whatever we can. And Harvey knows that. But it isn't rocket science. You can't stop a season in August and tell your fans we'll see you in 2½-3 weeks. That would not play well. And look, you'd be playing baseball into December. Just pragmatism takes over." Asked then how the sport expects to send its best players under those restraints, Selig said: "Harvey and I talked about that last night for awhile. We'll see. We're working on it. We're going to try and be as flexible as we can." There won't be an IOC vote on reinstating baseball and woman's softball into the Olympics until this coming Oct. 2 at the IOC Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. The selection of the 2016 venue will also be announced during that meeting of the IOC Congress. Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are the four finalists and all are prepared to incorporate baseball in their programs. Baseball and women's softball were voted out of the summer games in 2005 and won't be played at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Since 2000, MLB has sanctioned players outside the 25-man rosters of each Major League team to participate in the Olympics and Team USA has won the gold medal during the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sidney, Australia, and a bronze this past summer in Beijing. MLB's best players haven't participated in the Summer Olympics, but they have all been urged to play in the World Baseball Classic, which had its inaugural run in 2006 and is slated again for this March 5-23 in seven venues within and outside the U.S.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.