By Tom Degun

worldbaseballclassic qualifierSeptember 19 - Baseball is set to face an evaluation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week as part of its bid to join the 2020 Olympic sports programme.

The high profile 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying event will take place at the 10,000 capacity Armin-Wolf-Arena in Regensburg, Germany, starting tomorrow and concluding next Monday (September 24) and will feature teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Great Britain.

The winner of the event will go through to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, one of the biggest international tournaments in the world.

There will be a particular focus on Great Britain as the tournament marks the first time that Britain has had a chance to qualify for the World Baseball Classic.

However, Germany appear to be the favourites to advance with the home advantage.

"I am very excited about the World Baseball Classic qualifier taking place in Regensburg," said Michael Hartmann, President of the German Baseball and Softball Federation.

"Regensburg has demonstrated their professionalism and ability to organise a top level event by hosting the Baseball World Cup in 2009.

"I wish the German National Team the best of luck and hope that they will be able to use the home-field advantage and reach the 2013 World Baseball Classic."

Germany are_the_home_favouritesGermany are the favourites to qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic

The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) will hope the IOC is impressed by the event as the sport looks to return to the Olympics.

Baseball became an official Olympic sport at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics and featured at every Games up to Beijing 2008.

However, the IOC voted both baseball and softball off the programme at their Session in Singapore in 2005, making them the first sports to be voted out of the Olympics since polo was eliminated from the Berlin 1936 Games.

It is widely suggested that baseball was dropped because the world's best players from Major League Baseball (MLB) were not attending the Olympics and because the sport refused to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.

However, baseball is hoping to convince the IOC that it is worthy to return to the Olympics in 2020 and a joint bid with softball is considered highly likely.

Softball has already received its IOC evaluation for 2020 at the 2012 Softball Women's World Championship in Whitehorse, Canada, which took place from July 13 to 22, which saw Japan claim a 2-1 victory over the United States in the final.

Japan edged_the_United_States_for_gold_at_the_2012_ISF_Womens_World_ChampionshipJapan edged the United States for gold at the 2012 ISF Women’s World Championship

However, the decision over a joint bid will only be made at the International Softball Federation (ISF) Special Congress on October 30 in Texas.

Should the joint bid go ahead, baseball and softball still face a major challenge for inclusion at the 2020 Olympics as they have been shortlisted alongside climbing, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushu.

All the sports will be assessed at a major championships by the end of the year before the IOC compiles a report on the merits of each discipline and its bid based largely on the evaluation event.

The IOC will then make a final decision on which sport, if any, to include on the Olympic programme at its Session in Buenos Aires in September next year.

A maximum of 28 sports are allowed at the Olympic Games and this will be reached at Rio 2016 with the inclusion of golf and rugby sevens.

However, it is highly likely that at least one of the seven bid sports will be included in the 2020 Olympic sports programme with the IOC set to remove a minimum of one discipline currently on the sports programme.

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