WBSC Executive Board focuses on Tokyo Olympics in first meeting of the year

Softball will be the first sport played at the Olympic Games – starting two days before the Opening Ceremony – at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (pictured) as a symbol of recovery and resurgence in the region, 10 years after the devastating 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will of course be the highlight of 2021, not only for athletes right around the world but also as a universal symbol of hope and solidarity for humanity,” World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari said as the WBSC Executive Board met for the first time in 2021 online on Thursday. “As you would have seen yesterday, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 presented the first Playbook for the Games, which starts to give us a clear vision of what we can expect in Tokyo.

“We are looking forward to having the honour of opening the Games with softball’s first pitch on 21 July.”

Tokyo 2020 was an important discussion topic during the meeting with the WBSC having contributed to the IOC Playbooks with event experience input from the WBSC, its Member Federations and with the support of Professional Leagues around the world.

Softball will be the first sport played at the Olympic Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony, while baseball starts one week later on 28 July.

While all six teams – Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy, Mexico and USA – have qualified for the Olympic softball competition, baseball has two qualification tournaments remaining.

The dates and location of the Americas Baseball Olympic Qualifier and the dates of the Final Baseball Olympic Qualifier in Taichung and Douliu, TPE, will be announced in due course.

Japan, Korea, Israel and Mexico have qualified for Tokyo 2020 with one more ticket available at each of the remaining two baseball qualifying events.

Meanwhile, President Fraccari reported on the WBSC’s renewed commitment towards the development of online/virtual sports competitions, following the Board’s decision in December to approve the inclusion of E-Sports as a discipline of baseball and softball. He said: “With baseball, softball, Baseball5 and E-Sports we have all the formats covered – urban, traditional and digital”.

And the WBSC Executive Board also approved the 2021 provisional budget with Treasurer Angelo Vicini stating: “Even if we are living in difficult times, we preview a little surplus at the end of 2021, without having to cut any important WBSC planned initiative”.

President Fraccari closed the meeting by expressing his appreciation for the response rate to the WBSC Membership survey, which has already received feedback through questionnaires completed by 122 Members.

“It’s been a tremendous job and it is an ongoing job by our Membership Department,” commented Fraccari. “We are looking forward to having an updated picture of the WBSC family and of baseball and softball around the world.”

Tokyo 2020 – Olympic SoftballTokyo 2020 – Olympic Baseball