Dear athletes, leaders, WBSC partners, media representatives and fans around the world.
We ended 2020 with the hope that “the imminent rollout of vaccines will hopefully allow a return to a form of normality” and that we would celebrate our “return to the Olympic stage at the Tokyo 2020 Games” in stadiums full of fans.
Unfortunately, this year the pandemic has affected a large part of our World Cups and the Olympic Games, especially through the restriction of public access to events. Despite this challenge, we managed to complete the Olympic Qualifiers on the playing field and, by implementing stringent and complex protocols, we completed all the tournaments without any contagion.
Admittedly, it was extremely disappointing to see empty stadiums with no spectators in Tokyo, but through teamwork and unity, our sport delivered incredibly successful competitions at the Games, with plenty of drama, brilliant action and close games throughout.
Every single athlete and team showcased why our sport is an excellent fit for the Olympic Games through outstanding performances and sporting excellence, which captured the attention of fans around the world. It was clear for all to see that baseball and softball added tangible, meaningful value and brought millions of passionate viewers to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Allow me to thank all of you for making baseball and softball’s long anticipated return to the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020 a truly special occasion.
Of course, our heartfelt thanks and gratitude must go to our friends in Japan, including our colleagues at Nippon Professional Baseball, for helping to operate and deliver an incredible Games amid the most difficult circumstances.
It is also definitely worth highlighting the fact that the WBSC was amongst five sports/international federations appointed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be part of the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series. We delivered a fantastic baseball event which registered the highest audience of all the sports.
This great result, which was in cooperation with our partner KONAMI, followed the WBSC Executive Board’s forward-thinking decision to approve eSports as a discipline in December 2020.
Following baseball and softball’s great success at the Olympic Games and the Olympic Virtual Series, we were proud to have the opportunity to also showcase Baseball5 at the Paralympic Games with a demonstration event.
I speak on behalf of the entire baseball and softball community, when I say that 2021 and our Olympic comeback in Tokyo will never be forgotten and most importantly it lays the platform for an exciting future ahead. We again demonstrated how the WBSC is a strong, reliable and flexible partner for future Organizing Committees, the IOC and the Olympic Movement. And we remain fully committed to securing our place on the Olympic programme for our fans, our teams and their athletes.
Following Baseball5’s forthcoming debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in 2026 we, of course, are looking forward to LA 2028 and the opportunity for our sport to return to its birthplace.With softball the biggest female team sport in the United States, we are excited about bringing back the Olympic Dream to millions of girls in the country while baseball and softball’s fan base in the US and around the world will ensure that they will be one of the most eagerly anticipated sports at LA28.
We are aware that, due to the persistence of this pandemic situation, we will face new challenges in the new year. I personally hope that the restrictions, that various countries are currently implementing, will in the end allow us to hold our congress in person since I cannot wait to meet all of you and celebrate together our success.
I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together in 2021 – including the return of our first WBSC Baseball and Softball World Cups in nearly two years – and I would like to thank all our baseball and softball community and the WBSC staff for their endearing commitment and dedication to growing our sport despite the difficult year we have all faced.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish every one of you Happy Holidays and a wonderful 2022 full of joy, health, happiness and prosperity for you and your families.