Japan opposes new extra-inning rules for baseball
Japan has blasted the introduction of new tie-breaker rules for the Olympic baseball tournament, saying the teams involved were not consulted, reports said Sunday.
The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) on Friday announced the new format, which calls for placing base runners on first and second with no outs from the 11th inning, in a bid to avoid drawn-out extra-inning games, the AFP reported.
Teams will have the option of starting the 11th inning anywhere in the batting order. For example, if the number three hitter leads off, the number one hitter would be put on second base and the number two on first.
"It is inadequate to change the rules only two weeks before the Olympics. We are not going to play a friendly game -- we will seriously fight for the number one spot in the world," said Japan coach Senichi Hoshino.
"I also don't understand why the IBAF decided it without consulting anybody," the Nikkan Sports tabloid quoted Hoshino as saying.
"It may be difficult to change it again, but we are going to strongly protest against the new format."
Japan were expected to formally protest the new rules on Monday after a meeting by amateur baseball associations.
IBAF President Harvey W. Schiller defended the rule changes as a way to make the game more viewer-friendly, and possibly see it restored to the Olympic schedule after it was cut from the 2012 London Games.
"The upcoming Beijing Olympic competition may be our last unless we are successful in adding the sport back to the Olympic programme for the 2016 Games," Schiller said.
"We must demonstrate to the International Olympic Committee that not only does our game belong alongside the other great sports of the world, but our sport is manageable from a television and operational standpoint."
Japan's assistant coach Koichi Tabuchi said he was puzzled, noting: "Maybe they want to finish a game quickly."
"I don't think either team will have an advantage or disadvantage, but I just wonder why they didn't change it earlier," said Tabuchi, quoted by the Sports Nippon newspaper.