The Olympic softball tournament is safe through the 2008 games at Beijing, China, the International Olympic Committee announced today. 

Softball, along with baseball and the pentathlon, will retain gold medal status, but the three sports will be evaluated again after this summer's games in Athens, Greece, and again in 2009. 

Softball first appeared on the Olympic program in the 1996 games in Atlanta. Olympic softball reappeared for the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia. The United States claimed both Olympic gold medals. 

Team USA will look to win its third consecutive gold medal this summer in Greece. They will be joined by Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Greece, Italy and Japan. 

Softball has been under fire and as recently as 2002 were in jeopardy of being voted out of the Olympics. It will be evaluated again at the IOC session in July 2005, but the earliest any sport can be eliminated is the 2012 games. 

In other Olympic news, the IOC selected New York City, London, Madrid, Moscow and Paris as finalists for the 2012 host city. 

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