By Tom Degun

softballDecember 17 - The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) have revealed the new unified world body that will govern both sports together ahead of their joint 2020 Olympic Games bid – the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

Plans for the new unified world governing body to help the two sports regain their places on the Olympic programme in time for the 2020 Games were rubber stamped last week and the WBSC will exclusively represent the interests of baseball and softball before the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The WBSC board will consist of eight delegates, made up of IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari, ISF President Don Porter and six other representatives, three of whom will be appointed by the IBAF and three by the ISF to ensure equal representation from both sports.

Fraccari and Porter will serve as the co-Presidents of the WBSC.

"Our swift agreement on this issue is a good indicator of our ability to work together as a team and of keeping the focus on our primary objectives of further developing baseball and softball and of obtaining results that will help us earn a place on the Olympic Programme," said Fraccari.

Porter was equally happy.

"In addition to the increased visibility, our sports under one banner will provide the footing for clear and consistent messaging," he said.

baseballBaseball, like softball, last appeared at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008

The joint bid comes after both softball and baseball were dropped from the Olympic programme ahead of London 2012 and they face several challenges in returning to the Games.

Softball needs to tackle the problem of being a female-only sport with the IOC looking for more gender equality in the Olympics, while baseball must release its top Major League Baseball (MLB) players for the Games, which it was criticised for not doing last time.

The joint baseball and softball bid up is up against climbing, karate, roller sport, squash, wakeboard and wushu for a spot at the 2020 Olympics.

This week marks the most crucial period yet for the seven bids as they are all set to present to the IOC Programme Commission on Wednesday (December 19) at the Palace Hotel in Lausanne.

The IOC will finally decide on which sport or sports to include on the 2020 Olympic programme at its Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

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