LAUZANNE, Switzerland - The leaders of the new World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), have presented their unified vision for the inclusion of baseball and softball in the 2020 Olympic Games to the IOC’s Olympic Programme Commission.
Led by the WBSC’s Co-Presidents Don Porter and Riccardo Fraccari, the delegation also included 2008 Olympian Maria Soto from Venezuela and national team pitcher and professional player, Alessandro Maestri from Italy as well as current IBAF Vice President, Antonio Castro and ISF Secretary General Beng Choo Low.
“During our absence from the Olympic Programme, we have been listening and learning and, in the process, have challenged ourselves to be imaginative about how we deliver real and tangible added value for the Olympic Movement,” said President Porter.
“In addition, we set out to show how combining our disciplines would create new economic and operational efficiencies for the OCOGs and the IOC. Not quite two sports for the price of one, but close!
“For our first presentation as partners with baseball, we are proud and pleased with our performance before the Commission and especially for the messages of unity, humility and collaboration we were able to deliver. We understand what we are asking the IOC is a great honor and one that we have to earn,” continued Porter.
“We put forward men’s baseball and women’s softball for their global popularity in terms of participation levels, fan and media interest, the important issue of gender equity, as well as their enormous commercial power and strength,” said President Fraccari.
“And certainly we realize the professional baseball players of the world, together with the world’s elite softball players, could bring enormous value and appeal to the Games, and our presentation was designed to highlight the fact that we enjoy the full support of all the world’s leading professional baseball leagues,” Fraccari continued.
“We were truly grateful to the Programme Commission Members for their interest in our proposal, which was reflected in the multitude of useful and thoughtful questions they asked,” said Fraccari.
Presidents Porter and Fraccari also addressed the WBSC governance structure with the current International Baseball (IBAF) and International Softball (ISF) Federations in the process of formally merging following the approval of their respective Congresses and now subject to the IOC Executive Board and Session approval in 2013.
The WBSC’s value proposition included shared use of a single competition venue and single training field with a fast and easy transition between the two fields of play, streamlined six-day tournaments for both baseball and softball as well as a single point of contact for the IOC and OCOGs for two sports with a deep understanding of and experience in the Olympic Movement.
**Courtesy of Lori Nolan of the ISF