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Riccardo Fraccari: The Year Baseball and Softball Were Voted Back to the Olympic Games

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Baseball and softball will return to the Olympic program. Photo: WBSC.org

A surely unforgettable year for our movement is about to close.

It was a year that consumed economic resources; but more than anything, this was a year that required constant attention, time, hard work, interviews, meetings and many trips to various parts of the world.

These efforts were focused on the ultimate goal of restoring and winning baseball and softball’s place at the Olympic Games.

This major campaign/opportunity was only made possible thanks to the International Olympic Committee and its President, Thomas Bach, whose Olympic Agenda 2020 vision has brought innovation, new mechanisms and a new look to the Olympic program.

This entire movement in our sport has been a team effort that has seen the involvement, collaboration and commitment of many people and also the professional leagues, and I wish to recognize and thank everybody for their efforts and invaluable contributions. Together, and through tireless efforts, we were finally able to give back the dignity that baseball and softball deserve.

With baseball and softball having earned the right to be called “Olympic” again, this will help accelerate and even introduce the spread, growth and development of our sport in new, emerging and traditional territories – evolving baseball and softball into a truly major global sport.

There is no other sporting/cultural platform, no matter how great and important it may be, that can be compared to the Olympic Games and the locomotive effect that they can bring to a sport.

In concrete terms, this result also enables our National Federations to have access to Olympic Solidarity funding, through their respective National Olympic Committees, for the realization of different development projects and elite training of baseball and softball athletes.

We know there is still much to do – baseball/softball can and must grow. There are still challenges to overcome and important objectives to be achieved, in order to shine and remain on the Olympic stage over the long-term.

While it is an evolving process – and great steps have been taken in this regard since 2013 – the true integration of the international federation and all its disciplines and its structures must be realized as soon as possible.

This is the only method of running an increasingly professional organisation that can meet the needs of various major projects on the horizon and create/capitalize on new opportunities for our sport.

To realize this monumental task requires a shared vision with all the parts of our complex movement operating with a collective final objective in mind.

Before us are four important years for our movement that we absolutely must leverage, in order to raise the popularity and practice of baseball/softball across more nations while expanding and developing our disciplines in those countries where they are not yet sufficiently present or part of the sports landscape.

Next October we will gather at the World Baseball Softball Congress in Botswana, and one main item on the agenda will be to update the WBSC Articles of Association, statutes and regulations. And we will need to discuss together in Botswana the best path for this and for the future.

Now on behalf of the WBSC Executive Committee and in my name personally, I thank everyone involved for the valuable support in making 2016 a historic year for baseball and softball, and I wish you, your family and loved ones a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year full of success and health.

By Riccardo Fraccari

Riccardo Fraccari is President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. This article is republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

 

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