Baseball to be considered for 2020 Olympics

Sport was last played at 2008 Games; IOC has recommended its return

Baseball is one of three sports recommended by the International Olympic Committee's executive board on Wednesday to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, joining wrestling and squash as finalists.

The full IOC membership will meet Sept. 7-10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to decide which of the three sports will be added for the 2020 Games, to be held at a site yet to be determined.

Baseball and softball are putting forth a combined effort in the bid to return both sports to the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Games in Beijing, and Wednesday's vote was a big step in that direction.

"It was never going to be an easy decision, but I feel my colleagues on the Board made a good decision in selecting baseball/softball, squash and wrestling to be put forward in Buenos Aires," IOC President Jacques Rogge said on Olympic.org, the IOC's web site.

Baseball and softball were represented by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, which delivered a half-hour presentation along with the other sports that were considered by the IOC executive board.

"We're in the seventh inning, and now we have to hit a home run," WBSC Co-President Don Porter posted on the organization's web site.

Major League Baseball provided a letter in support of the bid, Porter told USA Today, which also reported the Major League Baseball Players Association met with WBSC recently to discuss scheduling issues.

Baseball was included as an official Olympic sport in the 1992 Games in Barcelona and was played in five Games until both being removed as an official sport. The WBSC was formed in conjunction with the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and the International Softball Federation (ISF) last year.

For baseball and softball to be selected to return to the Olympics, the use of Major League Baseball players will be a primary consideration. Major Leaguers did not participate in the first five Olympic competitions, but Rogge has said in the past that utilizing the top professionals the way tennis, basketball and other sports have is an important factor in baseball returning to the Olympics.

"We're not saying it should be an entire Major League team, but we want the top athletes here at the Olympics," Rogge said in a 2008 interview with MLB.com at the Beijing Games as the baseball competition concluded.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.