Return of Olympic baseball, softball at Tokyo 2020 Games supported by IOC Executive Board
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today welcomed the announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board to support 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 Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be taken at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August, and, if approved, it would constitute "the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history," the IOC stated.
"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," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. "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 today's recommendation.
"The WBSC also reconfirms our deepest gratitude to Tokyo 2020 leadership for placing its trust in our sport. 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."
Baseball and softball's global reach, loyal fan-base and positioning across many of the biggest sports markets, including Japan, offers a unique opportunity to further spread and elevate the Olympic brand while connecting with new audiences and more young people, said the WBSC president.
For WBSC, today's IOC Executive Board recommendation helps to highlight the growing global appeal and popularity of baseball and softball, particularly among young people and women. Over the last decade, and with the merger of baseball and softball that established the WBSC in 2013, baseball and softball stakeholders have worked to solidify the gender-balanced global bat-and-ball sport, which now represents 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. A record 31 National Teams will at the 2016 WBSC Women's Softball World Championship in Canada this summer.
The WBSC Premier12 Baseball World Cup last November was Japan's most-watched international sports event broadcasted in 2015. The WBSC Premier12 also generated the highest volume of online media buzz among young digital users in Japan -- with over 2 billion social media impressions -- surpassing all other major sports events in 2015.
In Japan, baseball/softball has remained atop the landscape and a central part of the cultural for more than 70 years.
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