By James Crook at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo

WBSC logoApril 13 - The governing bodies of baseball and softball have confirmed here today that the two will merge to form a new organisation - the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) - in a bid to improve the sport's chances of gaining re-election to the Olympic sports programme for 2020.

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) President and new WBSC co-President Riccardo Fraccari chaired the IBAF Congress here today, in which the joint-campaign to get the sports back into the Olympic programme for 2020 was officially launched.

Fraccari's new co-President, International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter, was also in attendance, along with the likes of Antonio Castro, son of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and IBAF Vice-President, Ryozo Kato, Commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball - the highest level league in Japan - and the Commissioners of the Korean and Chinese baseball leagues.

Ricardo Frecarri and Don Porter Tokyo April 14 2013The WBSC was officially launched at a press conference in Tokyo today

The slogan of the campaign was unveiled today; "Swing for the Fences", as well as the new logo (pictured top), a social media strategy and the newly-formed confederation's website,

"This is an historic day", said Fraccari.

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

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

The newly formed Confederation also firmly set its sights on bringing more young people into the game, and engaging with the world's youth via a strategic social media plan.

"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," said Porter.

"Baseball-softball is a game that anyone, anywhere can play.

"There are no barriers to participation.

"If you've got a bat and ball you can play, regardless of age, gender, social, cultural or economic stature.

"Baseball and softball help to empower women and provide pathways for women and young girls to experience and participate in sport in all cultures."

The huge social media presence that the two sports already boast is clearly seen as a vital element in the campaign to gain re-election to the Olympic sports programme, and the WBSC will certainly be utilising this power to strengthen its campaign further.

107156097Japanese softball star Yukiko Ueno helped to launch the campaign

The campaign was launched by two of Japan's softball players: Yukiko Ueno, part of the Japanese team that took gold at Beijing 2008, and up-and-comer Nana Okamura, the youngest player to be a part of the Japanese national team.

The announcement will be followed by a celebratory dinner cruise through Tokyo Bay this evening.

Baseball and softball are in a toughly contested race for re-election to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Olympic Games, along with karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wushu and wrestling; which was controversially recommended for removal by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Committee from the post-Rio 2016 Olympic sports programme in February.

The announcement of which sport will be included in the programme for the 2020 Games - which will take place in either Madrid, Istanbul, or here in the Japanese capital, Tokyo - is due to be announced in Buenos Aires on September 9.

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April 2013: Don Porter and Riccardo Fraccari - Success of MLB's WBC gives boost to Olympic baseball-softball campaign
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