Baseball5 and esports have been adopted as disciplines of baseball and softball ©Twitter/MLBTheShow

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Executive Board has approved the inclusion of esports as a discipline of baseball and softball, opening the door for it to stage international competitions in the future.

The Board passed a resolution formally adopting esports as the virtual version of the sport, as well as formally adopting Baseball5.

Esports will now be integrated into the WBSC statutes, which will be put forward for approval by the WBSC Congress in 2022.

The WBSC will now begin the process of establishing rules and regulations for the governance of ebaseball and esoftball competitions as it prepares to launch its first electronic game in 2021.

"The welcoming of esports into the WBSC family comes at a critical time, considering the fast-evolving digital world in which we live and the ongoing global pandemic," WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said.

"The WBSC looks forward to more progressive innovation in the dynamic and youth-focused space of esports, which will potentially expand the reach of our sport to millions of gamers and fans.

"Advancing future-oriented initiatives such as online/virtual competitions will support the development of baseball and softball - and all disciplines under them - for many years to come."

Numerous baseball video games are already in existence, with MLB: The Show among the most popular, while baseball and softball lend themselves to motion-controlled games as well.

The first baseball game simulator dates back to 1961, designed by IBM programmer John Burgeson.

Baseball5 is an urban discipline which is increasingly being championed by the WBSC, with the first Baseball5 World Cup scheduled for 2022.

Only a rubber ball is needed to play Baseball5, which is said to bring baseball to previously inaccessible areas.

Any playing surface can be utilised and no pitcher is required, with hitting done by hand.

The mixed-gender, five-a-side discipline is due to feature at the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games.