Tokyo 2020: The rise and fall of baseball as it returns to the Olympics after a 12-year exile

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Baseball returns to the Olympics this summer after a 12-year exile - with it taking place in Tokyo
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Baseball is returning to the Olympics after a 12-year exile in what will be its sixth Games… Cuba have dominated historically but can hosts Japan win gold at Tokyo 2020 as we look at the rise and fall of the sport in the Games?

The countdown to the Tokyo Olympics continues and the 32nd Olympiad will see it return to the capital of Japan after previously hosting in 1964.

The upcoming Games sees the extra inclusion of several sports – with baseball among those after a 12-year exile.

Sportsmail reviews the rise and fall of sport in the Olympics.

Baseball returns to the Olympics this summer after a 12-year exile – with it taking place in Tokyo

The pre-cursor

Prior to its official introduction in 1992, baseball was an exhibition sport at the Games – making its debut in 1904 in St Louis, America. However, due to its status there were no awarding of medals.

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, baseball was deemed as a demonstration sport. That year saw the United States beat Japan in the tournament finale.

The introduction – 1992 Barcelona Olympics

The sport made its official debut at the Barcelona Games in 1992. The format of it saw eight teams compete with an initial round-robin format. The teams taking part were Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Spain and the USA. All of the athletes competing were amateurs.

Following the round-robin format, the top four nations qualified for the semi-finals. Cuba, who finished with a 100 per cent record (7-0), topped the table and faced fourth-placed USA (5-2), while second-placed Japan (5-2) took on third-placed Chinese Taipei (5-2). Cuba beat the USA 6-1, while Chinese Taipei overcame Japan 5-2 to finalise the gold and bronze medal matches.

In the latter, Japan beat the USA 8-3 to win bronze while Cuba cruised past Chinese Taipei 11-1 to win the inaugural gold medal.

Cuba were the first-ever gold medal winners of Olympic baseball - boasting a flawless record

Cuba were the first-ever gold medal winners of Olympic baseball – boasting a flawless record

1996 Atlanta Olympics

 

The 1996 Olympics took place in Atlanta - with the Americans looking to win on home soil

The 1996 Olympics took place in Atlanta – with the Americans looking to win on home soil

However, the hosts had to contend with bronze as Cuba once again won the gold medal

However, the hosts had to contend with bronze as Cuba once again won the gold medal

2000 Sydney Olympics

 

Four years later though, the Americans were finally triumphant as they beat Cuba in the final

Four years later though, the Americans were finally triumphant as they beat Cuba in the final

The victorious Americans celebrate with their gold medals after beating Cuba 4-0 in the final

The victorious Americans celebrate with their gold medals after beating Cuba 4-0 in the final

2004 Athens Olympics

 

The Cubans atoned for their silver medal in Sydney by reigning supreme at the 2004 Games

The Cubans atoned for their silver medal in Sydney by reigning supreme at the 2004 Games

2008 Beijing Olympics

 

The last Olympic gold medals in baseball are South Korea - who beat Cuba 3-2 in Beijing 2008

The last Olympic gold medals in baseball are South Korea – who beat Cuba 3-2 in Beijing 2008

South Korea celebrate post-match - in what was the last Olympic baseball game to date

South Korea celebrate post-match – in what was the last Olympic baseball game to date

The exile – 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics

OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS IN BASEBALL HISTORY

1992 – Cuba

1996 – Cuba

2000 – USA

2004 – Cuba

2008 – South Korea

2012 – Not included in the Olympics

2016 – Not included in the Olympics

 

And now?

 

The Azuma Stadium in Fukushima is one venue that will host baseball at the Tokyo Games

The Azuma Stadium in Fukushima is one venue that will host baseball at the Tokyo Games

BASEBALL OLYMPIC MEDAL TABLE HISTORY

COUNTRY

1. Cuba

2. USA

3. South Korea

4. Japan

5. Australia

= Chinese Taipei 

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Baseball is returning to the Olympics after a 12-year exile in what will be its sixth Games… Cuba have dominated historically but can hosts Japan win gold at Tokyo 2020 as we look at the rise and fall of the sport in the Games?

The countdown to the Tokyo Olympics continues and the 32nd Olympiad will see it return to the capital of Japan after previously hosting in 1964.

The upcoming Games sees the extra inclusion of several sports – with baseball among those after a 12-year exile.

Sportsmail reviews the rise and fall of sport in the Olympics.

Baseball returns to the Olympics this summer after a 12-year exile – with it taking place in Tokyo

The pre-cursor

Prior to its official introduction in 1992, baseball was an exhibition sport at the Games – making its debut in 1904 in St Louis, America. However, due to its status there were no awarding of medals.

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, baseball was deemed as a demonstration sport. That year saw the United States beat Japan in the tournament finale.

The introduction – 1992 Barcelona Olympics

The sport made its official debut at the Barcelona Games in 1992. The format of it saw eight teams compete with an initial round-robin format. The teams taking part were Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, Spain and the USA. All of the athletes competing were amateurs.

Following the round-robin format, the top four nations qualified for the semi-finals. Cuba, who finished with a 100 per cent record (7-0), topped the table and faced fourth-placed USA (5-2), while second-placed Japan (5-2) took on third-placed Chinese Taipei (5-2). Cuba beat the USA 6-1, while Chinese Taipei overcame Japan 5-2 to finalise the gold and bronze medal matches.

In the latter, Japan beat the USA 8-3 to win bronze while Cuba cruised past Chinese Taipei 11-1 to win the inaugural gold medal.

Cuba were the first-ever gold medal winners of Olympic baseball - boasting a flawless record

Cuba were the first-ever gold medal winners of Olympic baseball – boasting a flawless record

1996 Atlanta Olympics

 

The 1996 Olympics took place in Atlanta - with the Americans looking to win on home soil

The 1996 Olympics took place in Atlanta – with the Americans looking to win on home soil

However, the hosts had to contend with bronze as Cuba once again won the gold medal

However, the hosts had to contend with bronze as Cuba once again won the gold medal

2000 Sydney Olympics

 

Four years later though, the Americans were finally triumphant as they beat Cuba in the final

Four years later though, the Americans were finally triumphant as they beat Cuba in the final

The victorious Americans celebrate with their gold medals after beating Cuba 4-0 in the final

The victorious Americans celebrate with their gold medals after beating Cuba 4-0 in the final

2004 Athens Olympics

 

The Cubans atoned for their silver medal in Sydney by reigning supreme at the 2004 Games

The Cubans atoned for their silver medal in Sydney by reigning supreme at the 2004 Games

2008 Beijing Olympics

 

The last Olympic gold medals in baseball are South Korea - who beat Cuba 3-2 in Beijing 2008

The last Olympic gold medals in baseball are South Korea – who beat Cuba 3-2 in Beijing 2008

South Korea celebrate post-match - in what was the last Olympic baseball game to date

South Korea celebrate post-match – in what was the last Olympic baseball game to date

The exile – 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics

OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS IN BASEBALL HISTORY

1992 – Cuba

1996 – Cuba

2000 – USA

2004 – Cuba

2008 – South Korea

2012 – Not included in the Olympics

2016 – Not included in the Olympics

 

And now?

 

The Azuma Stadium in Fukushima is one venue that will host baseball at the Tokyo Games

The Azuma Stadium in Fukushima is one venue that will host baseball at the Tokyo Games

BASEBALL OLYMPIC MEDAL TABLE HISTORY

COUNTRY

1. Cuba

2. USA

3. South Korea

4. Japan

5. Australia

= Chinese Taipei 

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