July 28 - The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have successfully held what they claim to be the "largest youth championships in world sport" as more than 10,000 fans packed into the Tianmu Stadium for the final of the unisex under-12 Baseball World Cup in Chinese Taipei.
The 14-team World Cup tournament, featuring representatives from Japan, Russia, Panama, Italy, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Pakistan, Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, Czech Republic and the United States, is the only national team World Championship across all sports in this youth category according to the WBSC, and echoes the Confederations' commitment to further developing the sport on a global scale whilst encouraging increases in youth participation.
The eventual winners of the tournament were the USA, who prevailed over the host nation Chinese Taipei by a score of 8-1 in front of an electric sell-out crowd to lift the World Cup as players showed their support for the WBSC Play Ball 2020 campaign to get the sport back into the Olympics by donning campaign stickers throughout the tournament, whilst banners and announcements urged fans to get behind the campaign.
"Especially in a time when there are so many different choices for young people and with an uncertain and challenging economic climate, we strongly believe that the ongoing appeal and access of baseball and softball to young people around the world will help to strengthen the Olympic Movement if the sports are included in the 2020 Olympic Games," said WBSC co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter.
The Championships follow a spate of recent success in international tournaments for the WBSC, including the women's World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City, which was broadcast in more than 140 nations worldwide, and the friendship series between the United States and Cuba, which saw the Cubans compete on American soil for the first time in 17 years.
"We are trying as hard as we can to earn a place in the 2020 Olympics to inspire our youth base, millions of boys and girls, to strive toward the excellence of the Olympic Games and the values they represent," continued the co-Presidents.
"And we are determined through baseball and softball to help empower youth, and especially girls and women--to offer them more opportunities to be included in sport and in the Olympics, and to inspire younger generations of girls and boys to become upstanding citizens, leaders and Olympians."
With an estimated 150 million people attending baseball games last year alone, whilst over 65 million athletes of all ages play baseball and softball at various levels in more than 140 countries, the sports are among the biggest in the world in terms of appeal to fans and athletes alike.
"The Olympic Games is the greatest goal of every athlete and highest honour for every sport, and we will place our full resources and passion for the Games at the service of the Olympic Movement if selected to be part of the 2020 Games," concluded Fraccari and Porter.
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