World Baseball Softball President Riccardo Fraccari and Secretary General Beng Choo Low recently sat down with international media members at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
Journalists were quick to ask about the format of the Olympic baseball and softball tournaments in Tokyo: “We are working together with Tokyo 2020 on a six-team round-robin format. I believe this will make fans in Japan very happy, since they will be able to watch their National Teams play at least five times,” the WBSC president said.
Media asked if other formats were being considered and Fraccari responded, “Let’s be optimistic about that. We are having very good talks with Tokyo 2020.”
Fraccari answered about the possibility of having players under contract with MLB organizations represent their countries in the Olympics: “MLB committed to send affiliated players under contract, but we cannot finalize a deal until we don’t officially agree on a tournament format and a tentative schedule. I would like to remind everybody that players under contract with MLB organizations have already represented their countries in the Olympics, and in the inaugural Premier12. Furthermore, I would not look only at MLB players. We will have the top players of the professional leagues of Asia and Latin America”.
Beng Choo Low added: “We are not going to ask to MLB to stop their season. We are going to have very competitive tournaments. There are only five places left, since the host Japan is there by right. It will be extremely hard [for nations] to qualify [for the baseball and softball Olympic events].”
PARIS AND LOS ANGELES GOOD FOR OLYMPIC BASEBALL/SOFTBALL?
Both Fraccari and Beng Choo Low consider it a “great opportunity” for baseball and softball to remain an Olympic sport, should the next two editions of the Olympic Games to go to Paris and Los Angeles (not necessarily in this order).
Fraccari detailed: “Los Angeles is a great baseball and softball city and in 1984 had baseball as a demonstration sport thanks to the cooperation of the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of MLB Franchises more interested in the international development of the game. The tournament was a great success. Paris is in the heart of Europe, a market where baseball and softball have a great potential. We have very good relations with both Los Angeles and Paris. I would say we couldn’t hope for better candidate cities.”
As of today, the only way for new sports to be included in the Olympic Games is if the host proposes a supplemental sports program.
Tokyo 2020 opted to included baseball/softball, climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing, which was formally approved by the International Olympic Committee as part of the IOC Agenda 2020 modernisation plans.