LAUSANNE, Switzerland - With less than two weeks to go (Sept. 8) before the IOC votes on which sport to add to the 2020 Olympic Games, the leaders of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have outlined how the worldwide player, fan and commercial support for baseball and softball can help to enhance the Olympic Games as well as the cause of Olympism, if included in the Games.

The WBSC's campaign, which is baseball and softball's third attempt in eight years for inclusion in the Olympic Games, highlights the advantages of adding baseball and softball as a pair to the Olympic Programme.

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"This campaign is the culmination of eight years of hard work to better understand how baseball and softball's massive worldwide support base amongst young people and players, and broadcast and sponsor appeal can be presented in new ways that are in alignment with the priorities with the Olympic Movement," co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter said.

"We have listened and learned from the IOC about the importance of athlete experience, as well as fans experience, and the need to provide an electrifying sporting atmosphere in the venues that engages young people, the host nation and city, as well as broadcast and new media audiences worldwide," the co-Presidents said.

"We reviewed our sports and improved key aspects of how baseball and softball can be presented as sports at the 2020 Olympic Games," they said.

The recommendation from the IOC to merge the international baseball and softball federations to form a single entity was fundamental to adding value to the Olympic Games, the WBSC leaders said.

"This enables the WBSC to bring unique and exciting bat-and-ball skills that connect with young people to the Olympic programme, and full gender equity," according to the co-presidents.

If included at the 2020 Games, Baseball/Softball will set a historic precedent, establishing women's softball and men's baseball as equal partners in an Olympic sport for the first time.

The co-presidents said the support of all the professional leagues for the Olympic inclusion campaign had also been important.

The focus has been on how baseball and softball can deliver added value to the Olympic Games, including:

A New Sustainable Sports Model

Baseball and softball will present shorter, higher impact six day Olympic sports tournaments in the same compact venue to reduce costs and logistical demands on Olympic host cities and organising committees.

New Audiences, Markets and Territories

With 65+ million athletes at all levels in 140+ countries and 150+ million fans filling venues worldwide, driving record ticket sales and revenues in 2012, Baseball and Softball are among the most popular sports in the world.

"We believe that the Olympic Games is the pinnacle for every athlete and every sport, and if included, we will make our resources available to the Olympic Family," the co-presidents said.

**courtesy of the WBSC

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