On the Scene in Tokyo - Baseball, Softball "Swing for the Fences"

(ATR) Co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter say they will “swing for the fences” on behalf of the World Baseball Softball Confederation and its bid for the 2020 Olympics. ATR's Matthew Grayson reports.

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(ATR) Co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter say they will "swing for the fences" on behalf of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

That’s their promise to members of the International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation, which officially merged into the WBSC today in Tokyo, as well as their campaign slogan for the 2020 Olympics.

"This is an historic day," Fraccari told a packed press conference after he and Porter put pen to paper, signing the WBSC’s constitution.

"We have brought a new level of worldwide unity and determination to our quest to return to the Games," the Italian said.

"The 65 million currently playing baseball and softball around the world now have a single federation to rally behind."

Porter added: "Our vision is to give every boy and girl in the world a chance to play baseball and softball and to inspire them to take up the sport through the Olympic Games."

Also unveiled today on the sidelines of the 27th IBAF Ordinary Congress were the WBSC’s new logo and website as well as a social media strategy for the months ahead.

Baseball and softball are competing against climbing, karate, roller sports, squash, wakeboard, wrestling and wushu for what will likely be only one open spot on the program of the 2020 Olympics.

Presentations from the eight shortlisted sports to the IOC Executive Board are scheduled for May 29 on the sidelines of the SportAccord Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Following the EB’s recommendation, IOC members will decide which sport to include in the 2020 Olympics at their 2013 Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina this September.

Odds & Ends from the 27th IBAF Congress

Fraccari, from Italy, was reelected without opposition as president of IBAF, and Israel Roldan of Puerto Rico was confirmed as secretary general.

Angelo Vicini of San Marino ousted Réné La Force of Belgium as treasurer. Out of seven candidates, Alonso Perez of Mexico, Tom Peng of Chinese Taipei and Antonio Castro of Cuba, son of Fidel, are the new VPs.

The morning’s first speaker was Japanese Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 President Tsunekazu Takeda, who praised the leadership of Fraccari in orchestrating the merger of baseball and softball.

Others to take the podium and back the bid included commissioners from three of the world’s four biggest leagues: Ryozo Kato of Nippon Professional Baseball, Hwang Jenn Tai of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Chinese Taipei and Jyong-chol Suh of the Korean Baseball Organization. MLB’s Bud Selig echoed his support via video with Asia Director Jim Small making the trip to Tokyo in Selig’s stead.

Cuban IOC member Reynaldo Gonzalez asked all the countries present to lobby their respective IOC members and National Olympic Committee leaders on behalf of the 2020 bid.

Multiple speakers, including Takeda and Roldan, gave shout-outs to delegates from World Baseball Classic winners Dominican Republic and runners-up Puerto Rico.

Justine Siegal from the Women's Commission reported on the growth of women’s baseball worldwide, noting that both sexes will play hard ball at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

Afghanistan, Haiti, Guyana, Nepal and Sierra Leone were ratified as full members of IBAF, while Curaçao and Saipan joined as provisional members.

Delegates approved a financial report showing a little less than $2 million in the IBAF budget.

IBAF Awards went to Pablo Carpio (Spain, scorer of the year); Osmel Pimentel (Venezuela, umpire of the year); Fujinami Shintaro (Japan, junior male athlete of the year); Yukari Isosaki (Japan, women’s athlete of the year); Jim Van Ostrand (Canada, men’s senior athlete of the year); and to the Mexican Federation.

IBAF also recognized its official sponsors – Brett, Mizuno, SSK and Kenko – the PONY League and the organizers of its 2012 tournaments.Reported in Tokyo by Matthew Grayson

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