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Baseball, softball recommended for 2020 Olympics

Olympic RingsOrganizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have recommended to the International Olympic Committee that baseball and softball be returned to the games, along with karate, skateboarding, climbing, and surfing.

“This package of events represents both traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, all of which are popular both in Japan and internationally,” said the organizing committee in a statement. “They will serve as a driving force to further promote the Olympic Movement and its values, with a focus on youth appeal, and will add value to the Games by engaging the Japanese population and new audiences worldwide, reflecting the Tokyo 2020 Games vision.”

Baseball and softball are popular around the world, but especially in Japan. Bringing the sports back for the 2020 games will surely generate additional interest in the event not only in Tokyo but in Asia, Europe and North America.

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. The decision to include baseball and softball was hailed by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

“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 fulfil their greatest dream of representing their country in the most important sporting spectacle there is — the Olympic Games.”

The decision was also hailed by pro-baseball leaders in the United States and Japan.

“Today’s announcement by Tokyo 2020 to include baseball/softball into its proposal for additional events at the 2020 Olympic Games is an exciting step forward to hopefully seeing our game return to this great platform,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “We look forward to the IOC’s decision in August 2016.”

“The recommendation today from Tokyo 2020 to restore Olympic baseball and softball has drawn attention here in Japan as well as globally,” said Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki. “United with WBSC and our colleagues from around the world, baseball and softball want to shine bright for Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Movement moving forward.”

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