By Tom Degun

baseballDecember 19 - The leaders of the new World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they practically offer two sports for the price of one in their bid to join the 2020 Olympic programme.

The WBSC is the joint body that has been created by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) so that they can bid for Olympic inclusion together.

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

All seven bids presented today to the IOC Programme Commission in Lausanne with the WBSC delegation headed by IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari and ISF President Don Porter, who are the WBSC co-Presidents.

"During our absence from the Olympic Programme, we have been listening and learning and, in the process, have challenged ourselves to be imaginative about how we deliver real and tangible added value for the Olympic Movement," said Porter.

"In addition, we set out to show how combining our disciplines would create new economic and operational efficiencies for the Organising Committees and the IOC.

"Not quite two sports for the price of one, but close!

"For our first presentation as partners with baseball, we are proud and pleased with our performance before the Commission and especially for the messages of unity, humility and collaboration we were able to deliver.

"We understand what we are asking the IOC is a great honour and one that we have to earn."

IBAF and ISFWBSC co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter are offering a unified vision to the IOC

Fraccari was equally positive following the presentation to the IOC.

"We put forward men's baseball and women's softball for their global popularity in terms of participation levels, fan and media interest, the important issue of gender equity, as well as their enormous commercial power and strength," said Fraccari.

"And certainly we realise the professional baseball players of the world, together with the world's elite softball players, could bring enormous value and appeal to the Games and our presentation was designed to highlight the fact that we enjoy the full support of all the world's leading professional baseball leagues.

"We were truly grateful to the Programme Commission members for their interest in our proposal, which was reflected in the multitude of useful and thoughtful questions they asked."

Porter and Fraccari also addressed the WBSC governance structure as they revealed that the IBAF and ISF are in the process of formally merging following the approval of their respective Congresses.

The merger is now subject to the IOC Executive Board and Session for approval in 2013.

The WBSC's proposition for the 2020 Olympics includes shared use of a single competition venue and single training field with a fast and easy transition between the two fields of play.

They have suggested streamlined six-day tournaments for both baseball and softball as well as a single point of contact for the IOC and Organising Committees.

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.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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