April 14 - The Commissioners of the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean baseball leagues have pledged their support to the newly-formed baseball-softball governing body, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), and their campaign to gain reinstatement to the Olympic programme.
International Baseball Federation (IBAF) President and new WBSC co-President Riccardo Fraccari paid tribute to Ryozo Kato, Commissioner of Congress hosts Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Japan's top league, after he promised support for the WBSC's campaign to gain re-election to the Olympic programme for 2020 on behalf of the NPB.
"When I was first elected as President in December 2009, I requested a meeting with Commissioner Kato to develop a stronger relationship between our international Federation and NPB," Fraccari said.
"I must admit that I was very nervous before our first meeting.
"I didn't really know his thoughts, ideas or vision of the direction of baseball.
"During our meeting, I was struck by a phrase that immediately led me to realise the bigness of Japanese baseball.
"He said to me, 'Baseball in Japan is not only sport, but is part of our culture.'
"Over the years, I have had the privilege to meet with Commissioner Kato many other times and so it was born, a strong friendship of tremendous mutual respect"
Fraccari also presented Commissioner Kato with a token of gratitude on behalf of the IBAF for his ongoing support for the campaign to get the sport back into the Olympic programme.
Chinese Professional Baseball League Commissioner Hwang Jenn-Tai also offered support on behalf of his organisation, saying: "I pledge to you, that we are in favour of the re-instatement, and we will contribute to such effort to the upmost extent.
"I believe that under strong leadership and through the continuous efforts of the IBAF, we will soon achieve the goal"
The Commissioner of the Korean Baseball Organisation, Jyong-chol Suh, also echoed these sentiments, saying: "I believe that there still lies challenges in the entering into the Olympic Games, which many of us desire for.
"All baseball organisations need to come together for this to happen.
"We promise our support and co-operation, and I certainly believe that we can become one under baseball"
The press conference which will officially announce the launch of the newly-formed WBSC and the campaign strategy for re-election to the Olympic Games sports programme for 2020 will take place here today at 4pm local time.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
April 2013: Delegates arrive in Tokyo in preparation for baseball-softball joint campaign launch
April 2013: New baseball-softball confederation set to be confirmed as campaign for Olympic reinstatement gathers pace
April 2013: Don Porter and Riccardo Fraccari - Success of MLB's WBC gives boost to Olympic baseball-softball campaign
December 2012: Baseball and softball almost offer the Olympics two sports for the price of one say WBSC
December 2012: World Baseball Softball Confederation formed for 2020 Olympic bid