Strike 3 For Olympic Baseball

No Baseball Or Softball At 2012 London Games; MLB's Fault?





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Cuban baseball players celebrate winning the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.  (AP)



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(CBS/AP) Baseball and women's softball have struck out with — and been struck from — the Summer Olympics. They won't be played at the 2012 Games in London.

Both sports remain in the starting lineup for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and will be eligible to reapply for readmission to the 2016 Games. London, however, looks like a no-go.

"We will work with them at the Olympic Games at Beijing and see if there's a chance to come back in the program" after London, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said. "I understand the disappointment of those who pleaded for the reinstatement."

Down to their final chances at the IOC's annual meeting Thursday, both sports quickly struck out. They needed the support of at least 51 percent of members before reinstatement could go to a secret ballot. After that, each sport would have needed majority backing in a second vote.

But they never got that far: The tally in the preliminary round was 46-42 against baseball and 47-43 against softball.

Thursday's decision reaffirms a vote last year to remove the sports from the Olympics.

"I think this is a final decision for London," Olympic historian David Wallechinsky told CBS News correspondent Steve Futterman. "I imagine there could be some whining and complaining, but this was so definitive. The fact that they wouldn't even take a second vote at all is, I would say, a bad indication."

The sports were narrowly voted out at the IOC assembly in Singapore in July, becoming the first to be removed from the Olympics since polo in 1936. Softball fell one vote short of making the cut — 52-52, with one abstention. Baseball was eliminated by a 54-50 vote.

International Baseball Federation head Aldo Notari and International Softball Federation president Don Porter had expressed confidence that the sports would be readmitted.

So what happened? Wallechinsky places the blame on the professionals.

"I think they're very mad at Major League Baseball for refusing to suspend the season and allow Major League Baseball players to participate in the Olympics," he said.

American member Anita DeFrantz opened Thursday's debate with a plea to readmit softball. She said the sport was dropped only because voting members incorrectly associated it with baseball.

"It is a women's sport," she said. "It is a separate sport and should be considered separately from the merits of baseball. This sport has its own policies, provides an opportunity for women and finally deserves to be on our program."

Members from Cuba, Australia, Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, Canada, South Africa and Taiwan were among those speaking in favor of readmitting both sports. Several delegates said the Singapore vote should be overturned because no replacement sports were brought in. Because no other sports won admission, the London Games will have 26 sports on the program, two short of the maximum.

While some members are opposed to reviewing a decision made just seven months ago, Australian member Kevan Gosper said the IOC should have the courage to do so.

"We should be big enough to review a decision if there is good cause," he said. "I think there is good cause and there should be no embarrassment that we are looking at it so soon."

American delegate Jim Easton took part in Thursday's vote. In Singapore, he recused himself because of his business interests as a manufacturer of sports equipment.

Citing "very significant changes in my business situation," Easton said he had received clearance from the IOC ethics commission and executive board to vote.






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