LAUSANNE, Switzerland (December 27, 2016) – WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari issued an end-of-the-year address to the baseball and softball world, citing a historic year for the sport.

The world governing body leader’s address, titled “2016: The Year that Baseball and Softball Were Voted Back to the Olympic Games”, stated it was unforgettable year for the sport, after more than a decade of efforts to earn a place in the Olympic Games.

The world baseball softball leader credited the International Olympic Committee president and its members for bringing in a new era to the Olympic programme.

“This historic year 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 Programme,” said Fraccari.

The WBSC chief reaffirmed the world governing body’s top priority over the long-term will be to shine at the Tokyo 2020 Games in Japan, where baseball/softball is considered the most popular sport, and continue to evolve into a major global power in order to remain on the Olympic stage.

“There is no other sporting/cultural platform, no matter how great or important it may be, that can be compared to the Olympic Games,” Fraccari said.

The WBSC president also recognised and thanked all members of the baseball and softball family for their valuable contributions that led to baseball and softball’s return to the Olympic programme.

“Together, and through tireless efforts, we were finally able to give back the dignity that baseball and softball deserve.”

The WBSC leader further encouraged baseball and softball’s 209 National Federations in over 140 countries to report to and work with their respective National Olympic Committees regarding the ongoing global development of the sport.

“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,” said Fraccari.

The baseball/softball leader also revealed that the second World Baseball Softball Congress will be held in Botswana, Africa, next October, in capital city Gaborone.