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Olympics drop, switch sports for London

There will be no baseball or softball in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, two sports where Canada is a medal contender and past medalist. The announcement was made last week to mixed reaction from countries and sports organizations.

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Women’s softball first appeared in the Olympics in 1996. Baseball has been a medal sport since 1992, although it was first played as a demonstration sport in 1956.

The baseball announcement was expected – currently the international federation has been unable to secure a release of top major league stars to play in the Olympic Games. Secondly, the ongoing issues with drug use and lack of commitment to clean up the sport would make it impossible to get the go-ahead from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The IOC is currently reviewing the status of all 28 sports in the Games, some of which may be dropped or replaced.

With the elimination of baseball, the Olympics no longer needed women’s softball to maintain equal representation of men and women.

The Canadian Olympic Committee voiced its disappointment at the decision last week.

"Canada has a strong history of success in both sports and the removal of baseball and softball certainly adds challenges to Canada’s overall pursuit of medal success at future Olympic Games," said COC president Michael Chambers.

This is the first time that sports have been eliminated since polo was dropped in 1936.

The Olympics is hoping to maintain 28 sports, but there likely will be some changes to the program.

For example, rugby sevens is being seriously considered by the International Olympic Committee, but golf, karate, squash and roller skating were denied at last week’s IOC session in Singapore.

A few weeks ago the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for cycling events at the Olympics, announced that two track events – men’s 10K Time Trial and women’s 500m Time Trial – would be replaced by men’s and women’s BMX racing events in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The format for the race is as yet undecided.

The decision has been slammed by track cycling organizations because they claim the UCI eliminated two of the most exciting track events.

One justification given by the UCI is that the IOC wants to see more sports that people can relate to, and more people ride road bikes, mountain bikes and BMX bikes than sport-specific track bikes.

There’s no word yet if downhill mountain biking is making any progress, although the UCI is lobbying for its conclusion. Since the Olympics are not willing to add any new events to the roster, it will be up to sport organizations like the UCI to find room for the event, most likely by dropping other competitions.

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