Olympic return for baseball and softball supported by the IOC Executive Board
Fri 3 Jun 2016
The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has given its approval for the inclusion of baseball and softball among a new sports package for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A final vote on the composition of the sports programme for the 2020 Olympic Games will be taken at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August. But the unanimous support for baseball and softball and the other new sports proposed for Tokyo by the IOC Executive Board – skateboarding, surfing, karate and sports climbing -- makes it highly likely that the package will be approved.
If it is, according to the IOC, it will constitute "the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history."
World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari reacted to the IOC announcement by saying, "It is an honour for our global sport -- and a great day for our millions of male and female athletes and fans around the world -- to be represented within this new and innovative youth-focused Olympic sports package. On behalf of our sport, we thank IOC President Thomas Bach for his Agenda 2020 vision, which has sparked this Olympic evolution, and the entire IOC Executive Board for their recommendation.
"The WBSC also reconfirms our deepest gratitude to the Tokyo 2020 leadership for placing its trust in our sport,” Fraccari added. “Olympic baseball and softball in Japan would be the biggest and most exciting international competition in the history of our sport, and would help the Olympic Games touch the entire host nation and worldwide community."
For the WBSC, the IOC Executive Board recommendation highlights the growing global appeal and popularity of baseball and softball, particularly among young people and women. Following the merger of the International Baseball and Softball Federations that established the WBSC in 2013, baseball and softball has become a gender-balanced global bat-and-ball sport representing 65 million athletes from 213 National Federation and Associate Members in over 140 countries.
Baseball and softball at the national team level has never been as popular as it is today among fans, broadcasters, partners and the players themselves, as demonstrated by the record number of 31 national teams that will compete at the 2016 Women's Softball World Championship in Canada this summer.
In Japan, where baseball and softball are major sports, the WBSC Premier12 Baseball World Cup last November was Japan's most-watched international sports event broadcast in 2015 and generated over two billion social media impressions.