By James Crook

James Crook head and shoulders"This is an historic day" exclaimed International Baseball Federation President Riccardo Fraccari, as a jam-packed press conference in Tokyo to witness the birth of the organisation he will take co-Presidency of; the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

"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 the other man sharing the helm; Don Porter, International Softball Federation (ISF) President, as the onlooking delegates and press lapped up the details of the brand spanking new campaign.

The WSBC campaign for the sport's re-election to the Olympic sports programme for 2020 onwards certainly gleams on the exterior; 65 million players worldwide, fanatical fan-bases in multiple countries, an ever expanding social media presence and an incredible ability to pull in commercial sponsorship.

The lavish Congress presented by Japanese gaming giants Konami is something that not many sports would have had the resources to host, but baseball's massive global pull opens a world of opportunity with commercial sponsorship; something that the likes of football and basketball can only really compete with.

166580132IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari and ISF President Don Porter unveiled the campaign and officially announced the formation of the WBSC, which they will both Co-President

And with Nippon Professional Baseball - Japan's elite league - also helping host the event, there is plenty of clout behind this campaign, and the WBSC certainly aren't afraid to shout about it.

The consolidation of the two Federations is very much a push for global domination for the sports, and there is a genuine belief that it's a possibility that baseball and softball will be embraced by nations across the planet; ambition which is nicely encapsulated by the campaign motto, "Swing for the Fences".

If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board are looking for the most marketable addition to the programme, the best-watched and the one that undoubtedly has the most resources at its disposal when they are given presentations from each of the eight bidding sports in St Petersburg in May, baseball and softball are shoe-ins for the recommendation, and the prospect of baseball and softball possibly making their return to the Games in one of the sport's key markets - Japan, should Tokyo win the rights to host the 2020 Olympics - is a tantalising notion that would have fans, sponsors and officials drooling.

But who really knows what the IOC are looking for to fill the likely singular void that will need to be filled to confirm the completed sports programme for 2020, other than the members themselves?

If it was the case that the campaign from the city or sport in the strongest position at this moment was given the nod ahead of their rivals, you'd find it tough to see past Tokyo hosting the 2020 Games with baseball and softball taking their place on the sports programme, in my opinion.

2495727Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league boasts some of the most fanatical fans in the world

"We like to stress that Tokyo 2020 is a safe pair of hands" said Tokyo 2020 chief executive Masato Mizuno somewhat aptly back in January when delegates delivered a press conference in London following their delivery of their Bid Book to the IOC.

And perhaps the newlywed softball and baseball share this trait with the Japanese capital's bid - due to the fact they are already so established in so many nations around the globe - to host its first Games since 1964; but in actuality, is being "safe" such a positive image to have?

In the same way that Istanbul offers a unique opportunity to stage the Games across two continents in one of the world's emerging markets, or the way that Madrid have vowed to use the Games to drag themselves out of their economic turmoil, the perhaps lesser-known bidding sports like wushu, wakeboarding and climbing give the opportunity to develop some of these somewhat niche sports into world-renowned sports; they can all offer something truly different, and could use the Games to propel themselves into the limelight.

Will there be a desire to hand an opportunity to one of the underdogs in these races in order to create true legacies for these cities and sports that are searching for a launch-pad rather than side with the "safe" options that already have such massive global reputations?

It's obvious that the desire to be back in the Games burned strong in the hearts of the delegates in Tokyo  after the controversial decision to oust the sports from the programme following Beijing 2008, similarly to the way in which Tokyo 2020 are determined that their bid- which has long been installed as the British bookmakers favourites to win the rights to host the Games - will not go the same way as their 2016 bid, which fell at the second to last hurdle to Madrid and eventual winners Rio de Janeiro.

Both Tokyo 2020 and baseball-softball are striving to go further and the hunger and desire is undoubtedly there from both parties, but whether their tags as the old faithful will in fact have a detrimental effect on their chances remains to be seen.

James Crook is a reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here