Japanese legend calls baseball/softball the “best choice” for the Olympics

Mon 2 Sep 2013

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has gained public support from Japan's legendary sports figure, home run king and baseball Hall of Famer Sadaharu Oh, for baseball and softball's inclusion on the 2020 Olympic programme.

Sadaharu Oh's support came during the 23rd edition of the six-day World Children's Baseball Fair held recently in Fukui, Japan by the WBSC in partnership with the World Children's Baseball Foundation (WCBF).  The Fair is one of the world's foremost international youth sport clinics and it united over 130 children representing five continents and 13 countries (Australia, Brazil, Bhutan, Cameroon, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Germany, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Russia and the United States).

The youth-centred gathering highlighted the capacity of baseball and softball to appeal to and connect with boys and girls from all cultures and backgrounds.

Best choice

Speaking at the Fair, Sadaharu Oh expressed his support for the WBSC's commitment and efforts to get baseball and softball onto the programme for the 2020 Olympic Games.

"As Tokyo bids to host the 2020 Olympic Games, and as baseball and softball campaign to be added to the Olympic programme for 2020,” Oh said, “I wanted to offer my support to the WBSC's campaign and strong efforts.

"If Tokyo wins the honour to host the Olympic Games in 2020, I believe that the baseball and softball competitions will deliver the peak of Olympic sport, capturing the full attention of our entire nation and others around the world.  The electrifying atmosphere of Japan playing at home for the gold medal would give ballplayers and the fans the most unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"If the Games go to Europe,” Oh added, “baseball and softball's continual rise there and their strengthening worldwide emergence will ensure there is excitement and spectator interest that will build further to 2020 and beyond.

"There has been tremendous progress in the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, with other great European countries also growing baseball and softball cultures.   And who could have imagined only five years ago that national teams from Argentina, Brasil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia and the Ukraine would be represented in World Championships today?

"That's why I believe every major league around the world should find a way to make its best players available for the Olympic Games,” Sadaharu Oh concluded, “and that is why I believe baseball and softball would be the IOC's best choice on September 8 in Buenos Aires."

World record

Sadaharu Oh, who holds the world-record for career home runs with 868 and played his entire 22-year career with the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, founded the World Children's Baseball Foundation together with the legendary American player Hank Aaron, who held Major League Baseball career home run record for 33 years, with 755 home runs.

Oh and Aaron helped to establish the World Children's Baseball Fair with the vision of fostering world understanding and cultural exchange through the celebration of baseball, as they recognised that the sport of provides a platform that advocates and teaches teamwork, leadership, fitness, respect, discipline and international friendship.

The International Olympic Committee will hold a vote on September 8 in Buenos Aires to decide which sport to add to the 2020 Olympic Games. Baseball/softball, squash and wrestling are the three sports that will be on the ballot.

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