OKLAHOMA CITY — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the ASA/USA Softball welcomed an announcement today by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board to support the inclusion of softball and baseball among a new sports package for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“What great news to receive for the international softball and baseball communities,” said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Craig Cress. “To receive support from the IOC Executive Board for softball and baseball’s return to the Tokyo 2020 Games is an honor and a great endorsement for us to receive. We look forward to the vote in August during the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro.”
“Softball and baseball’s global reach, loyal fan-base and positioning across many of the biggest sports markets, including Japan, offers a unique opportunity to further spread and elevate the Olympic brand while connecting with new audiences and more young people,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said. “Today’s IOC Executive Board recommendation helps to highlight the growing global appeal and popularity of softball and baseball, particularly among young people. Over the last decade, and with the merger of baseball and softball that established the WBSC in 2013, baseball and softball stakeholders have worked to solidify the gender-balanced global bat-and-ball sport, which now represents 65 million athletes from 213 National Federation and Associate Members in over 140 countries.”
“It is an honor for our global sport — and a great day for our millions of male and female athletes, and fans around the world — to be represented within this new and innovative youth-focused Olympic sports package. On behalf of our sport, we thank IOC President Thomas Bach for his Agenda 2020 vision — which has sparked this Olympic evolution — and the entire IOC Executive Board for today’s recommendation. The WBSC also reconfirms our deepest gratitude to Tokyo 2020 leadership for placing its trust in our sport. Olympic baseball and softball in Japan would be the biggest and most exciting international competition in the history of our sport, and would help the Olympic Games touch the entire host nation and worldwide community.”
In four Olympic Games appearances, the USA Softball Women’s National Team claimed three gold medals and one silver while setting numerous international records and are one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals. In 2012, three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Fernandez and the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team were honored for their accolades with induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team set 18 Olympic records in Athens. Among the team records set were the most hits (73), highest team batting average (.343) and highest slugging percentage (.559). Fernandez set the individual record for batting average with .545 while Crystl Bustos’ 10 RBI and five home runs were also records.
A final vote on the composition of the sport programme for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be taken at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro in August, and, if approved, would constitute “the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history,” the IOC stated.
—Courtesy ASA/USA Softball