Olympic changes herald historic chance for baseball/softball and other sports to play in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
(March 3, 2015 by WBSC)

With the international sporting calendar now firmly focused on 2015, the WBSC continues to campaign for possible inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, boosted by the endorsement late last year of the IOC's popular Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, paving the way for Tokyo Olympic Games organisers to nominate one or more extra sporting events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad.

Baseball and softball activity and development meanwhile continue to advance and expand worldwide with more domestic and international competitions and youth programs in more countries than ever before.

Sponsorship and broadcast activity and interest is also continuing to grow significantly in the junior, major and community leagues and competitions thanks to the hard work of the national federations and local organisers who are witnessing strong interest and participation in their sports like never before.

In response to demand for more international competition, 2015 will also see the inaugural new rankings based global baseball championship Premier 12 launched in November in Tokyo and Taipei City.

The campaign for the inclusion of baseball and softball at the Olympic Games, the world's foremost sporting showcase and spectacle, remains at the top of the WBSC's own agenda.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) passed a set of reforms - called Olympic Agenda 2020 - in December last year in Monaco. Led by IOC President Thomas Bach, a total of 40 recommendations were brought before the full IOC membership which laid out the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement.

The reforms that relate to baseball/softball most directly involve those that move the Olympic Games from a sport-based to an event-based programme, and enabling future Olympic organizing committees the flexibility to propose one or more additional events to the program for the Games they host.

The first Summer Olympic Games in which these reforms will be implemented will be the Tokyo 2020 Games. The current timeline for the process of adding new sporting events for Tokyo is as follows:

* June: IOC Executive Board to approve criteria for inclusion of new sports events
* September: Tokyo 2020 to Submit Proposal for additional sports-events
* August 2016: IOC Members to Vote in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games

While there is very strong support in Japan for baseball and softball to be included for Tokyo 2020 - 68 percent of respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey for example said they wanted baseball and softball to be added to the sports programme for the Tokyo Olympics, topping the list of possible choices - there is also an ever expanding list of sports seeking Olympic status for Tokyo 2020.

These are indeed challenging and exciting times for our sports as the WBSC leadership works hard to realise the dreams of young boys and girls around the world to see baseball and softball at the Olympic Games in time for Tokyo - and possibly for America four years later, as the United States Olympic Committee begins to compile what is expected to be a highly competitive and compelling bid with the famous baseball city of Boston to stage the Olympic Games in 2024.

As the international governing body, the WBSC will submit a proposal that highlights how baseball and softball can assist the Olympic Movement in its mission to place sport at the service of humanity, while also assisting Tokyo 2020 Olympic organisers to create an electrifying atmosphere for the Games in 2020, as well as in pre-Olympic preparations, helping to unite the country behind the Games, raising extra revenues from sold out venue ticket sales, and leaving a legacy that inspires future generations of young people in Japan and beyond into sport and the Olympic values.

The dramatic expansion of baseball and softball into new markets and territories including Africa, the Middle East and other regions has been confirmed with the first ever tour by an international baseball team from Europe to play the Japan Samurai in Tokyo this March, highlighting the universal appeal of the bat and ball sports.

Development also continues to occur at the grassroots level with equipment provided to many countries, covering both baseball and softball in 2014. Many of these donations were earmarked for the school system, exposing youth to the game at an early age. Sport specific facilities also continue to be built and renovated across the globe.

The WBSC has a full list of official events on the 2015 calendar that span from June to November which includes the Men's Softball World Championship and the Pan American Games in Canada, the U12 Baseball World Cup in Chinese Taipei, the U19 Women's Softball World Championship in the USA, the U18 Baseball World Cup in Japan, and the Inaugural Premier 12 in Japan and Chinese Taipei.