Baseball at Olympics had its first official appearance at the Summer Olympics in 1992 and so far has been played in four Olympiads. Fifteen different countries have contested in the baseball Olympic competitions, with three of those countries participating in all four events of the tournament. Baseball at Olympics is supervised by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF).
Olympic baseball history is fairly long. Baseball was officially commenced as one of the medal sports in the Summer Olympics held in Barcelona in 1992 when it was added as an official event with eight-team tournament. All players that year were required to be baseball amateurs. At the competition teams had to play against each of the rival teams and afterwards, semifinals and finals. The format of the tournament has remained unchanged since then, with just one major alteration in 2000 when players were no longer required to be amateurs.
In July 2005, baseball along with softball was excluded from the 2012 Olympics in England. However, the event is still on the schedule for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This elimination will remove 16 national teams and more than 300 professional athletes from the 2012 Summer Olympics. Baseball still holds chances to reemerge as Olympic event in the 2016 Summer Olympics, if no new sports are approved into the games and if it receives enough votes to be included again.
Traditionally, the host nation always has been provided with a place in the Olympic baseball competition. The rest of the places are in general determined by continental qualifying competitions. For the 2008 championships, the Americas are given two places, Europe has one place, and Asia obtains one place.
The remaining three places are granted to the top three countries at an eight-team competition held following the continental competitions. Qualification for this competition is decided by those continental competitions. Second and third place teams from Europe, the third and fourth place teams from America, second and third place teams from Asia, first place team from Africa, and first place Oceania team contest in that competition.
Baseball at Olympics is utterly identical to most forms of professional baseball. However, aluminum bats are permitted in baseball at Olympics. In addition, there is a slaughter rule invoked when one team is winning by more than 9 runs after 7 innings (6.5 innings if the leading team is a home team). Team rosters are restricted by 24 players per team.
Olympic tournament comprises a round-robin preface round in which every team competes against all 7 rival teams. No more than the top four teams move forward to the medals round, in which semifinals are played. Semifinals are always played between the 4th/1st place teams and the 3rd/2nd place teams. Teams that lost semifinals then play in a bronze medal game, with the winner awarded the bronze medal and the loser getting 4th place. The winners of semifinals advance to the final, which gives the winner gold Olympic baseball medals and the loser is awarded silver medals.