28/07/2021 - 07/08/2021

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Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

WBSC President welcomes heads of IOC and Tokyo 2020 for celebrity pitch to mark opening of Olympic baseball

WBSC President welcomes heads of IOC and Tokyo 2020  for celebrity pitch to mark opening of Olympic baseball
29/07/2021
IOC President Thomas Bach, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Seiko Hashimoto and baseball legend Sadaharu Oh took place in the ceremonial first pitch.

World Baseball Softball President (WBSC) Riccardo Fraccari was proud to welcome the presidents of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Seiko Hashimoto to the Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima for the first celebrity pitch ahead of the opening game of the Olympic baseball tournament.

President Bach passed the ball over to two young boys from Fukushima – who lived through the earthquake in 2011 – pitcher Yuna Takara, who celebrates his 15th birthday on Thursday - one day after his ceremonial first pitch - and catcher Nao Koizumi, aged 14, for the pitching ceremony.

Joining Fraccari, Bach and Hashimoto on the occasion were other senior guests including Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh, Japan Olympic Committee President and IOC Member Yasuhiro Yamashita, as well as FIG President and IOC Member Morinari Watanabe.

Hashimoto and Oh were also special guests for the first celebrity pitch ahead of the opening softball game in Fukushima on 21 July, which featured two softball players - 14-year-old pitcher Mana Kuwabarawho and catcher Himeno Miyatahad, aged 15 - who experienced the recovery of the region since the 2011 earthquake.

Discussions between President Fraccari and President Bach during the opening game of the baseball tournament between Japan and Dominican Republic focused on softball and baseball’s spectacular return to the Olympic Games after last featuring at Beijing 2008 as well as the innovations the WBSC has implemented on the field of play including a pitching clock and instant replays.

Commenting on discussions with senior guests in Fukushima, Fraccari said:

“Delighted and proud to have welcomed the leader of the Olympic Movement Thomas Bach for the first celebrity pitch to mark baseball’s historic and long anticipated return to the Olympic Games.

“To have President Bach and President Hashimoto with us for the opening baseball game demonstrates the important role our sport is playing in the overall success of the Olympic Games. As we have seen so far in Tokyo, our sport, its values and global, passionate fanbase can and is making valuable contributions to the continued growth and evolution of the Olympic Games.

“Japan’s win over the USA in women’s softball was a dream final which marked a historic moment in time for softball’s Olympic history.

“Our attention now turns to ensuring that baseball’s Olympic return, where we expect plenty more quality, excitement and drama, is as spectacular as the one we just witnessed in women’s softball.”

Following Tokyo 2020, the WBSC’s focus turns to gaining a permanent place on the Olympic programme starting from Los Angeles 2028 as well as the further growth of baseball and softball around the world including its latest discipline Baseball5, which will feature at the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026. The WBSC, with partner KONAMI, also recently featured in the inaugural edition of the Olympic Virtual Series with baseball one of five sports included.

Tokyo 2020 – Olympic Baseball