Softball and baseball among proposed sports for Tokyo 2020 Olympic inclusion
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Olympic Dream for millions of softball athletes across the world is one step closer to realization as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games announced five new sports, including baseball/softball, for inclusion in the Games in 2020. Announced today by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America/USA Softball welcomes the decision, which paves the way for the sport of softball to be included on the Olympic program for the first time since 2008.
“We are humbled and excited to continue in the next steps of the process for our sport’s Olympic reinstatement efforts,” said ASA/USA Softball Executive Director Craig Cress. “We are honored that the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has selected our sport for inclusion onto the Olympic Program. We will continue to promote our sport and demonstrate the positive aspects of softball to the international world.”
The top sport in Japan, baseball/softball is the biggest sport not currently featured at the Olympic Games — particularly in terms of youth participation in actual organized competition, as the vast majority of baseball/softball’s estimated 65 million athletes in over 140 countries are between the ages of 5 to 21.
Tokyo 2020’s proposal for additional events must be reviewed, voted upon and formally approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next August ahead of the 2016 Games.
“Tokyo 2020’s decision to propose our sport is a ‘home run’ and giant leap forward for baseball and softball,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “On behalf of WBSC and our athletes, I would like to thank Tokyo 2020 as well as IOC President Thomas Bach, whose Olympic Agenda 2020 vision has paved the way for this extraordinary opportunity. The entire baseball and softball world is excited and ready to cross the Olympic home plate. But above all, I am happy for all our male and female athletes who today can see there is a real chance to fulfill their greatest dream of representing their country in the most important sporting spectacle there is — the Olympic Games.”
WBSC President Fraccari added: “Baseball and softball’s global position, expansion and opportunities today are thanks to all of our partners’ contributions and a shared vision to return our sport to the highest stage in sports, the Olympic Games. And we will do everything possible so that baseball and softball, if included, are a great attraction/success for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and IOC’s Agenda 2020, as it remains WBSC’s top priority to demonstrate that our sport aligns with the Olympic Movement and has the qualities to earn a place on the Olympic program in 2020 and in future Games.”
WBSC’s previous Olympic bid, which proposed baseball and softball for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games, earned the second-highest amount of votes at the 2013 IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, finishing behind wrestling.
In four Olympic Games appearances, the USA Softball Women’s National Team claimed three Gold Medals and one Silver Medal finish 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.