The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) launched its global campaign in Taiwan yesterday to reinstate baseball as an Olympic event at the 2020 Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted in 2005 to drop baseball and softball from the Summer Games, starting with the Olympics in London next year. In 2009, the committee voted to continue the policy for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari said after an inauguration ceremony in Taipei that the federation chose to start its global campaign in Taiwan, where baseball is the national sport.
“We know how Taiwanese people are for baseball,” he said. “We also wanted to start from the youth and Taiwan will be the venue for the first [U12] Baseball World Championship.”
Fraccari said the biggest problem in the past was that baseball had always been introduced as an “American” sport.
The federation would show to the IOC at its July 4 meeting that baseball is a sport played all over the world, he said, adding that the IBAF had conducted more doping tests than other sports associations.
The IBAF will also launch a joint campaign with the International Softball Federation for the bid to return to the Olympics, he said.
Asked about the chances of the IOC reinstating baseball for the 2020 Olympics, Fraccari said it would not be an easy feat, because baseball would also have to compete with other sports that are hoping to return to the Olympics.
“I think that in this moment, our focus is not to think if we enter [the Olympics program] or not,” he said. “Our focus is, from now until the fourth of July, to show the Olympics committee that baseball can manage to stay inside the Olympics program.”
Minister Without Portfolio Ovid Tseng (曾志朗), Sports Affairs Council Minister Tai Hsia-ling (戴遐齡), Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Tsai (蔡辰威) and Chinese Taipei Baseball Association president Chen Tai-cheng (陳太政) were also at the ceremony to endorse the campaign.
Uni-President Lions catcher Kao Chih-kang (高志綱), a national team member in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, said it was regretful that baseball players would have to sit out of the 2012 and 2016 Games.
“It had always been my dream to compete in the Olympics, which would give me the opportunity to play with some of the world’s top players,” Kao said. “This motivated me to stay competitive, which in turn became a source of energy for my training.”
He also said that many athletes would lose their faith in the sport if they could not compete in the Olympics, a consequence he said was “unthinkable.”
He encouraged baseball players worldwide to come out and show their support for the campaign.
Taiwan secured a silver medal in baseball at the 1992 Barcelona Games, which was the sport’s first showing as a medal event. The nation secured fifth place in both 2004 and 2008.