The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has today revealed the new official emblem of the 2016 Under-15 Baseball World Cup.
The third edition of the biennial event is due to be staged from July 29 to August 7 in the Japanese city of Iwaki, which is located in the Fukushima Prefecture.
Iwaki was among the cities in northeastern Japan seriously damaged by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, with Fukushima suffering from nuclear meltdowns.
The new visual identity of the WBSC Under-15 Baseball World Cup is said to have made use of abstract art to conceptualise the main element, a baseball glove, which is based on five transparent geometric shapes and a universal colour scheme.
The glove is intended to represent WBSC and its 142 members across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania, as well as the global nature of the sport.
At the heart of the glove is a white baseball with contrasting red stitches, which it is claimed not only unites the baseball world, but brings together the world's best young players to represent their countries and compete for the title of world champions.
Designed by British mega-event branding experts WORKS, the new logo is part of an ongoing new look for all Baseball World Cup properties, including the Under-12, Under-15, Under-18, Under-23 and women's events.
The announcement in October that the Under-15 World Cup will be staged in Fukushima, located 240 kilometres from Tokyo, came fresh from the news that Tokyo 2020 had recommended baseball and softball among five sports for possible inclusion at that year's Olympic Games.
"The WBSC is proud that our sport is at the forefront of youth sport with already established and marketable youth engagement platforms like our Under-15 Baseball World Cup," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
"WBSC and all our sport's stakeholders remain highly committed to further growing the appeal and sustainable development of our sport across all age groups and across new territories worldwide, particularly during this new era of Olympic Agenda 2020, which has opened up a new door to earn a place for our sport and athletes at the Olympic Games.
"And, at the time of the WBSC Under-15 Baseball World Cup in Japan, we will learn whether our sport will make a historic return to the Olympics in 2020."
WBSC also formally announced today the 12 nations that have advanced through their respective continental qualifiers to compete for the world title at the Under-15 World Cup.
The dozen competing countries are Australia, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Korea, the United States and Venezuela.
World number three ranked Cuba, who defeated the second ranked Americans in the 2014 Under-15 Baseball World Cup final in front of 15,000 fans in Mazatlán, Mexico, will enter Iwaki as the defending champions.
Venezuela, ranked 10th in the world, beat number four ranked Chinese Taipei in the bronze medal match in Mazatlán.
The US bounced back from their disappointment to finish first at the 2015 Under-15 Americas continental qualifier, defeating Colombia in the final in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Chinese Taipei won the 2015 Under-15 Asia qualifier, beating hosts Japan in the final in Shizuoka, while world number 20 ranked Czech Republic qualified out of the European qualifier on home soil in Brno.
World number 14 ranked Australia and 26th ranked New Zealand will be representing Oceania.
Three existing venues will stage the Under-15 World Cup games, including the 30,000-seat Iwaki Green Stadium, which hosted the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) All-Star Game in 2013 and will serve as the main stage.
Together with the Iwaki Green Stadium, Taira Baseball Stadium and Nambu Stadium form the Iwaki cluster of venues, which will host a total of 50 games in 10 days - and as many as six games per day.