- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) As major league baseball players and owners worked to prevent a strike, the sport endured a setback on the international stage yesterday, as an IOC panel recommended dropping baseball from the Summer Olympics.
The panel also proposed getting rid of softball, another game the United States excels at, while adding golf and rugby for the 2008 Beijing Games.
"I think it's preposterous," said former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, who coached the U.S. baseball team to the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. "I don't know what the reasoning would be for this. The baseball park was full for all the games we played in Sydney.
"Also, the softball I saw at the Olympics was an awesome competition and the crowds were great. It's just a tremendous mistake if they drop these sports."
The U.S. softball team also won in Sydney, defending the gold medal it won in Atlanta.
The International Olympic Committee's program commission made the recommendations in a report delivered to the IOC executive board, according to Olympic officials familiar with the document.
The executive board is expected to finish reviewing the recommendations today. If the board accepts the proposals, they would go to the full IOC assembly. A two-thirds majority is required for approval, which could come at the next IOC session in Mexico City in November.
Modern pentathlon and Greco-Roman wrestling also are up for exclusion as the program commission studies ways to modernize the Olympics, which now consist of 28 summer sports and 300 events.
Meanwhile, for the Winter Games, the IOC said figure skating will definitely remain on the program, dispelling speculation the sport could be dropped following the judging and fixing scandals in Salt Lake City.
The IOC selected Bern, Switzerland; Salzburg, Austria; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Pyeongchang, South Korea as official candidates to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. The winner will be elected in July 2003.
Eliminated from the race were Andorra La Vella, Andorra; Harbin, China; Jaca, Spain, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The selection was made by a secret ballot of the IOC executive board.
Baseball, a former demonstration sport, became a full medal event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. However, unlike other sports which have attracted the world's top professionals, Olympic baseball has failed to include top major league players, since the season overlaps with the Games.
Softball was added to the Olympics in Atlanta, but its long-term status has always been in doubt. The international softball federation is headed by an American, Don Porter.
Golf and rugby have been among more than two dozen sports lobbying to become Olympic sports.
Golf, which was in the Olympics in 1900 and 1904, was proposed for inclusion in the Atlanta Games but was blocked because of controversy over the membership policy of the Augusta National club, which has no women members.
Rugby was played in the Olympics in 1900, 1908 1920 and 1924. IOC president Jacques Rogge is a former Belgian international rugby union player. The seven-a-side version is proposed for the Olympics.

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