By Paul Osborne

Baseball and softball could return to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games ©Getty ImagesNovember 20 - There is still a possibility baseball and softball could feature at Tokyo 2020, new International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach claimed in the Japanese capital today. 

"This will be under discussion," said Bach at a news conference in Tokyo today, the third stop on his four city Asian tour.

"We will have the first broad discussion in December in a meeting of the Executive Board of the IOC, then the Executive Board will present its first discussion paper to the IOC session in Sochi."

Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympic programme prior to the London 2012 Games following a vote by the IOC at its Session in Singapore in 2005.

A joint bid by the two sports to be reinstated for the 2020 Olympics failed in September with IOC members favouring saving instead wrestling, controversially recommended by the Executive Board for exclusion after Rio 2016. 

With baseball-mad Japan now hosting 2020 the inclusion of the sports has become hot topic with many calling for the sports to be included in the Olympic programme when the Games return to Tokyo for the first time since 1964.

The Olympic Charter states that a sport's inclusion in the Games must be decided no later than the session electing the host city however the new IOC President stressed the need for flexibility.

"Personally I am open to more flexibility in the programme for the Olympic Games," he said.

"But we must see what my colleagues are thinking about this."

IOC President Thomas Bach made the announcement at a conference in Tokyo where he is meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and organisers of Tokyo 2020IOC President Thomas Bach held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and organisers of Tokyo 2020  ©Getty Images

Baseball and softball featured on the Olympic programme from 1992 to 2008 before being controversially removed after Beijing, the first sports to be removed from the programme since polo in 1936.

The IOC cited the sports' lack of global appeal amongst other reasons for their removal.

Bach is visiting Japan for the first time since succeeding Jacques Rogge at the helm of the IOC and has praised the preparations for Tokyo 2020 so far.

He is joined in Tokyo by IOC vice-president John Coates, the Australian due to head the Coordination Commission for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. 

Coates responded to Japan's plans to scale back the 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium following an uproar from some prominent architects who think it's too big and expensive.

"It's inevitable that costs will be reduced," he said.

"We are always open to that as long as the basic facility isn't compromised."

Officials have said that costs will be cut by making the stadium building more compact, reducing the space for things such as exhibition rooms, and that plans for 80,000 seats - up from 54,000 in the current stadium - will not change.

"What I have heard about the Olympic Stadium is that there were some plans about adjustments in the building," said Bach.

"But it will not affect at all the Olympic stadium as a sports facility."

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