WBSC makes official presentation to add baseball, softball to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

WBSC makes official presentation to add baseball, softball to Tokyo 2020 Olympics
10/08/2015

TOKYO — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) concluded a two-day interview from 7-8 August in the Japanese capital with Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organisers to outline the viability and potential value added to the Tokyo 2020 Games with baseball and softball, Japan’s national sport, included.

TOKYO — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) concluded a two-day interview from 7-8 August in the Japanese capital with Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organisers to outline the viability and potential value added to the Tokyo 2020 Games with baseball and softball, Japan’s national sport, included.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari led a seven-person baseball/softball delegation in Tokyo that included home run king and sports legend Sadaharu Oh and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) chief Katsuhhiko Kumazaki. NPB, Japan’s most popular sports league and WBSC Member, attracted more than 23 million spectators in 2014, the second-highest recorded attendance of any sports league in the world in 2014.

Oh joined the WBSC delegation following his throwing out of the ceremonial first pitch on 6 August that commemorated the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annual “Koshien” National High School Baseball Championship — the legendary two-week youth tournament that fills the 48,000-seat Hanshin Stadium and is televised nationally.

Also part of the delegation from WBSC leadership was Secretary General Ms. Beng Choo Low, Softball Executive Vice President Dale McMann, Japan Softball Association (JSA) Vice President and three-time Japanese Olympic Softball Team coach Ms. Taeko Utsugi, Athlete Representative and 2008 softball Olympian, Ms. Maria Soto.

Baseball/softball is one of eight new sports being considered by Tokyo 2020 following Olympic Agenda 2020’s landmark ruling last December that allows Olympic hosts to propose adding sports that are not currently on the Olympic programme but could help engage audiences and young people in the host nation and around the world.

The top sport in Japan in terms of youth participation, infrastructure, media coverage and fan-following, baseball and softball are played by an estimated 65 million men and women athletes in over 140 countries worldwide.

“Given our sport’s footprint in Japan and worldwide, WBSC and our global partners hoped to have shown during the interview in Tokyo that staging Olympic baseball and softball in 2020 would be easily accommodated — fully in the spirit of Olympic Agenda 2020 — and the added value as well as the historic value would be a ‘home run’ for Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Movement and our sport,” said President Fraccari.

Following the presentation to Tokyo 2020, President Fraccari and legendary coach Utsugi attended the finals of 2015 JSA Japan Cup that brought the Women’s National Softball Teams of Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan and the United States to Ogaki City.

Tokyo 2020 is expected to announce a proposal for additional event(s) by 30 September 2015.

Connecting to Youth, Women in Sport and Universality

Ahead of Tokyo 2020’s additional event announcement, the XXVII WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2015 will unite the sport’s future stars in Osaka from 28 August to 6 September, with the semi-finals and finals taking place at historic Hanshin “Koshien” Stadium, built in 1924.

The 12 qualified nations of the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup heading to Osaka mark a global footprint that represents Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania and spans across the entire western hemisphere from North-, South-, and Central America and the Caribbean.

The last WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in 2013 had a potential broadcast reach of 144 million homes and potential online/mobile reach of 20 million.

The XI WBSC Junior Women’s Softball World Championship 2015 is currently taking place from 9-15 August at the premier softball facility in the United States, at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Battling for the world championship in Oklahoma City are the Women’s U-19 National Teams of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The III WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup 2015 — the only official youth world championship in all of sport in this age category — concluded days before the interview with Tokyo 2020.

The final of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup produced a record sell-out crowd of more than 11,000 fans at Tainan Municipal Stadium on 2 August, and more than 150,000 online and mobile viewers tuned into the live global webcast of the final.

The 12 qualified nations in Tainan were world No. 1 Japan, defending world champions No. 2 United States No. 3 Cuba, Asian champions No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 8 South Korea, No. 10 Venezuela, No. 12 Mexico, No. 14 Australia, No. 15 Brazil, Americas champions No. 16 Nicaragua, No. 28 France, and European champions No. 32 Russia.

Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang were the Official Global Ambassadors of the WBSC 2015 U-12 Baseball World Cup.

In November, the WBSC is launching a new flagship international baseball competition, the Premier12, which is the Men’s National Team championship that unites the top 12 nations from the WBSC World Rankings. The semi-finals and finals of the inaugural 2015 WBSC Premier12 will be staged at the iconic Tokyo Dome. The 2019 Premier12 could potentially serve as an Olympic qualifier, helping to further promote Tokyo 2020 in the lead-up to the Games.

Overseeing the sport’s wave of global activity, WBSC’s organisational structure and reach consists of 212 National Federations and Associate Members, including professional leagues, across 141 countries and territories worldwide.

WBSC’s previous Olympic bid, which proposed men’s baseball and women’s softball for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games, earned the second-highest amount of votes at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013, finishing behind wrestling.

The final decision on the composition of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic sports programme will be taken at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016.