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Tokyo 2020: Baseball returns after 13 years, but why are only six countries competing? Updated: 2021-08-04 17:16:09 KST

It's not just tonight's baseball game.
The sport of baseball in general,.. has gotten a lot of buzz at Tokyo 2020.
Our Lee Kyung-eun is in the studio to explain why.
Kyung-eun, what makes baseball so significant this year?

Well, Conn-young, that's because, baseball has returned to the Olympics, for the first time in 13 years.
The last time we saw baseball was at Games, was in 2008, at the Beijing Olympics.
In fact, the relationship between baseball and the IOC, has been rocky for years.
Baseball was a "demonstration sport" for years.
Before being adopted as a "medal sport", in Barcelona in 1992.
But after 2008,… the sport was voted out by the IOC,..citing "not enough global interest".
As a result, baseball was not featured at London 2012, or Rio 2016.

How did it return?

Of course, the IOC is in charge of deciding which sports will be included.
But the HOST CITY can also play a role, in that decision making.
And, Japan, this year, proposed men's baseball and women's softball.
Both are hugely popular in .the country.
And Japan's professional league, Nippon Professional Baseball, is actually taking a mid-season break , in order to accommodate the Games.
Also, the country is largely favored to win gold, as the number 1-ranked-side, according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
All these, were GOOD REASONS, for Japan to add baseball to the list.
Aong with four newly-introduced sports skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate.
But baseball won't be featured at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Maybe, it will return for Los Angeles 2028.

But baseball's return has come with a set of complicated tournament rules,under the double elimination system, right?

That's right.
That's largely because, only 6 teams are competing in the tournament.
Of course that includes the host country Japan,… South Korea, the U.S.
As well as,.. Israel, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Due to scheduling needs and venue limitations,there's a cap on athlete numbers.
And the organizers, decided limit baseball's to 1-hundred-44,.. in total.
Given that 24 athletes are required for entry,… that makes only 6 teams - with Japan automatically qualifying,as the host nation.
Candidates fiercely competed just to get their tickets to the actual Games.
So far,.. Japan has never won gold before with ONE silver, AND TWO bronze.
South Korea, has ONE gold, and ONE bronze.
The U.S., has THREE medals ONE gold, and TWO bronze.
Cuba leads all the countries in medals it has won gold three times, silver twice.
But the country, didn't even qualify for this year's Olympics.

Thank you for the report.

Thank you for having me.
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