Baseball-Softball Ramps Up Bid for Paris 2024 Inclusion

(ATR) World Baseball Softball Confederation steps up campaign to join Paris Olympics with launch of rules and web platform for Baseball5.

(ATR) The World Baseball Softball Confederation stepped up its campaign to join the Paris Olympics with the launch of the official rules and a web platform to support its short format Baseball5.

It comes ahead of Baseball5’s Olympic exhibition debut in the sports initiation zone at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics in Argentina in October. Baseball5 was also demonstrated at the recent European Baseball and Softball Congresses in Paris.

After baseball and softball’s successful bid to join Tokyo 2020 Olympic program - a one-off inclusion - WBSC leaders are ramping up their global promotion of the youth-focused urban version of the sports with an eye on Paris 2024.

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said the launch of the rules as "a major milestone in the modern evolution of building baseball and softball into not only a major global sport, but also a long-term Olympic sport that will continue to appeal to youth, as trends and behaviors shift in a growing digital world".

With the new street/urban discipline not requiring dedicated sports equipment or venues, he said it was closely aligned with the IOC’s Agenda 2020 vision to extend the appeal of the Olympics to the younger generation.

"Baseball5 will become a key component in our Olympic and growth strategies by further introducing and popularising the game among young people and mass audiences across the world - in Europe, where the Paris 2024 Games will be staged, and wherever the Games may be held in the future," Fraccari said in a statement.

"I also envision a future where five-on-five baseball/softball can itself grow into an Olympic event."

In launching the official rules, a web platform and an instructional video about the new discipline, the WBSC emphasised Baseball5’s flexibility as a sport format.

Baseball5 rules call for only a rubber ball to be used, with any playing surface possible for 5-inning games. Five active players per team are needed. But no pitcher is necessary and hitting is done by hand. The distance between the bases is 13 meters.

"This fast, youth-oriented and easy to learn urban game will help take baseball and softball to places not before possible, helping to drive worldwide fan and participation numbers to our target of 1 billion over the next decade," said Fraccari.

The new digital platform at wbsc.org/baseball5 has been launched in English and Spanish, and will soon be available in Japanese, Korean, French, and Chinese.

WBSC's new Baseball5 instructional video has already generated over 200,000 views from 74 countries and territories. The confederation said it has particularly resonated across Latin America countries, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Reported by Mark Bisson

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