TOKYO — For the first time in history, men’s baseball and women’s softball events at the Olympic Games will be staged in the same venues, at the Tokyo 2020 Games, representing a new cost-effective model that will make baseball and softball more attractive to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and host cities around the world.

Converting an existing stadium’s field-of-play from baseball to softball (and vice-versa), which allows baseball and softball to share a venue, has been brought forward under the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

Why wasn’t this done before? Baseball and softball at previous Olympic Games were managed separately by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF). At past Games, baseball and softball were being played at the same time and on the same days, thus requiring separate facilities to be built, an additional cost that reduced their added-value. This old format also forced fans to choose one over the other.

Since then, the IBAF and ISF merged into one world governing body, and under the WBSC, the Olympic baseball and softball model has been transformed and modernised, with baseball and softball complementing each other — not competing against each other.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari recently visited Yokohama Stadium — the main venue for baseball and softball at the Tokyo 2020 Games — and praised the progress of the renovation project and the innovative retractable pitcher’s mound by club Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

“The pitching mound that rises and lowers automatically to transform the baseball field into a softball field is impressive,” said Fraccari.

Originally built in 1978, the Yokohama Stadium expansion project is expected to be completed in early 2020, increasing the seating capacity to approximately 35,000 and providing more opportunities for fan/community-engagement.

The top sport in Japan, baseball and softball are widely expected to be amongst the most popular and followed events at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Olympic baseball and softball games at Tokyo 2020 will also be played at Fukushima’s Azuma Stadium, which was visited last week by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach.

Related news: