Lausanne, Switzerland -- The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) concluded a two-day interview from 7-8 August in the Japanese capital with Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organizers to outline the viability and potential value added to the Tokyo 2020 Games with baseball and softball -- Japan's national sport -- included.
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari led a seven-person baseball/softball delegation in Tokyo that included home run king and sports legend Sadaharu Oh and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) chief Katsuhhiko Kumazaki. NPB, Japan's most popular sports league and WBSC Member, attracted more than 23 million spectators in 2014, the second-highest recorded attendance of any sports league in the world in 2014.
Oh joined the WBSC delegation following his throwing out of the ceremonial first pitch on 6 August that commemorated the 100th anniversary of Japan's annual "Koshien" National High School Baseball Championship -- the legendary two-week youth tournament that fills the 48,000-seat Hanshin Stadium and is televised nationally.
Also part of the delegation from WBSC leadership was Secretary General Ms. Beng Choo Low, Softball Executive Vice President Dale McMann, Japan Softball Association (JSA) Vice President and three-time Japanese Olympic Softball Team coach Ms. Taeko Utsugi, Athlete Representative and 2008 softball Olympian, Ms. Maria Soto.
Baseball/softball is one of eight new sports being considered by Tokyo 2020 following Olympic Agenda 2020's landmark ruling last December that allows Olympic hosts to propose adding sports that are not currently on the Olympic program but could help engage audiences and young people in the host nation and around the world.
The top sport in Japan in terms of youth participation, infrastructure, media coverage and fan-following, baseball and softball are played by an estimated 65 million men and women athletes in over 140 countries worldwide.
"Given our sport's footprint in Japan and worldwide, WBSC and our global partners hoped to have shown during the interview in Tokyo that staging Olympic baseball and softball in 2020 would be easily accommodated -- fully in the spirit of Olympic Agenda 2020 -- and the added value as well as the historic value would be a 'home run' for Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Movement and our sport," said President Fraccari.
Following the presentation to Tokyo 2020, President Fraccari and legendary coach Utsugi attended the finals of 2015 JSA Japan Cup that brought the Women's National Softball Teams of Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan and the United States to Ogaki City.
Tokyo 2020 is expected to announce a proposal for additional event(s) by 30 September 2015.
-- Courtesy of WBSC