The 129th IOC Session in Rio officially approved the return of Baseball and Softball onto the program of the Olympic Games. In Tokyo in 2020 the two bat and ball sports will be played in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Together with Karate, Surfing, Skateboarding and Sport Climbing the five sports were voted unanimously into the program as additional sports.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation welcomed the decision of the IOC Session to approve adding baseball and softball to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The WBSC is now looking forward to the honour of showcasing baseball/softball on the world’s greatest stage in 2020 and making a valuable contribution to the Olympic Movement by connecting the IOC to new audiences in every corner of the globe.
WBSC President Fraccari said: “Today’s decision is an important milestone in the sport’s history and a momentous day for baseball/softball’s estimated 65 million athletes in over 140 countries, as well as millions more fans around the world. On behalf of the WBSC and all the athletes, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Tokyo 2020 leadership for putting their faith in our sport to begin with; to IOC President Thomas Bach, whose Olympic Agenda 2020 vision has made this opportunity a reality; and to all IOC members for recognising the valuable contribution the sport can make to the Olympic Movement.
A key part of baseball/softball’s popularity is the universality of the sport. It offers an accessible route for young people all over the world to play and stay in sport.
The sports have a global reach, with loyal fan bases in some of the most important sports markets on the planet, in particular Japan where baseball/softball is widely considered to be the number one sport in the country. The WBSC Premier12 was Japan’s most-watched international sports programme in 2015 and in June 2016 a record crowd attended the opening game of the WBSC-sanctioned international softball series between Japan and the United States at the Tokyo Dome. The WBSC is now in a position to harness this enormous support for the benefit of the Olympic Movement by nurturing a passion for the Olympic Games in generations of baseball/softball fans around the world.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “We are excited about the IOC’s announcement restoring Baseball and Softball to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Baseball and Softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics. We are grateful to the IOC Executive Board, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation for their collective efforts, which will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy Baseball and Softball on the Olympic stage.”
Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki said: “Baseball and Softball back in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 is a pleasant and exciting news for all of us in the baseball/softball family. It is the result of continuous strong promotion, which baseball and softball people worked together as one. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Mori, president of Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020 for his support, Mr. Fraccarri, president of WBSC for his leadership, all the staff and personnel involved for their efforts, and last but not least, to all the baseball/softball fans all over the world for boosting our campaign.”
Korea Baseball Organization Commissioner Koo Bon-neung: “In Korea among fans and our players, there is added excitement because our Men’s National Baseball Team will get the opportunity to defend the Olympic gold that was won in 2008, and it will be even more exciting and challenging for any country to win the gold medal, as our sport’s international growth and competition-levels have intensified over the last 10 years.”
Chinese Professional Baseball League Commissioner John Wu said: “CPBL shares the jubilation with WBSC and professional leagues worldwide to see our beloved sports return to the Olympics where Baseball & Softball athletes of the highest level can compete for ultimate pride and glory. We strongly believe that the historic decision taken today by IOC members will be celebrated as a great forward-thinking decision, and we look forward to working with the global Baseball & Softball community to ensure the sports will be an essential addition to the 2020 Olympics and beyond.”