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Japan's Gold At ISF World Championship Drives Interest In Olympic Softball Return For Tokyo 2020
HAARLEM, Netherlands -- When Japan defeated the United States, 4-1, to win the first ISF World Championship held in Europe, it highlighted softball's continued expansion beyond traditional geographic boundaries as one of the world's most commercially successful and popular spectator and participation sports for women, young girls and families.
Australia earned the bronze to spread the medal distribution of the championship among the Americas, Asia and Oceania.
"We are developing the sports of softball and baseball in many areas, such as the Muslim world, in Africa and in Europe where interest, awareness and club numbers and players are continuing to grow on this historic, sports loving continent, the cradle of modern sport," said World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President, Riccardo Fraccari.
Japan, the 2008 Olympic softball champions, finished softball's pinnacle global event with a perfect tournament record of 10-0, fueling further national speculation, interest and excitement in Japan about the possible inclusion of softball and baseball -- the two most popular sports in the 2020 Olympic host nation -- at the Tokyo Games.
With the Olympic sports selection process up for discussion at the IOC Session in Monaco in December, leadership of the WBSC -- the recently merged international baseball and softball confederation -- remains committed to working with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers to earn the honor of having the sports included at the Olympic Games.
"Japan, like many other countries around the world, is a baseball and softball nation, and we are doing all we can to maximize the added-value that our bat-and-ball sports would deliver to the Olympic Games," Fraccari said. "We believe that the deep national history, pride and passion for baseball and softball in Japan, at all levels of Japanese society, would enable these sports to bring great value and enhance the Olympic experience at the Tokyo Games and for the 2020 Olympic host nation of Japan."
"The 10-day spectacle of women's sport highlighted softball's growing global popularity as one of the world's premier sports for women," WBSC Executive Vice President and International Softball Federation President Dale McMann said.
The XIV Women's Softball Championship featured 16 national teams -- the maximum allowed -- from five world regions, and included Australia, Botswana, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia and the United States.
"This was a premium event, with teams from three different continents in the top three," said Low Beng Choo, WBSC Secretary General. "The medal distribution from the Americas to Asia and Oceania highlights the global spread and excellence of the sport and the athletes, and increases opportunities and awareness of women's sport."
ISF World Championship
-- courtesy World Baseball Softball Confederation