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Baseball Makes Effective Pitch for 2016 Olympic Reinstatement with Five Day Plan, Commitment to Use Best Players

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and leaders from baseball around the world today presented their outline for baseball’s re-instatement to the Olympic programme in 2016. The presentation, which included IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller, Secretary General John Ostermeyer, Major League Baseball President and Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr, IBAF Anti-Doping Manager Jean-Pierre Moser and professional player Sidney de Jong of the Netherlands, outlined the best possible partnership between baseball and the Olympic programme.  Sandra Montiero, president of the Portuguese Baseball Federation, and Ricardo Fraccari, president of the Italian Baseball Federation, are also in Lausanne this week to assist in the effort. 

“We feel that we have not just addressed the issues that were presented as to why baseball was removed for 2012, but have also outlined the most effective way in which the Olympic programme can work with baseball’s year-round global marketing capabilities over the next seven years to maximize Olympic exposure,” said IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller. “From a game-ending rule, to after-use of venues, to using the best players and generating media coverage, baseball has shown it will do whatever it takes, from the grassroots to the professional level, to be not just a partner, but the best partner, for the Olympic movement.”  

The presentation included the following key points:

  • Baseball will offer a five-day, eight team tournament which will allow maximum participation of the top players from the countries that qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. The qualifier for 2016 would be held during  the 2015 off-season.
  • Major League Baseball in North America will not broadcast any games directly against the Olympic baseball schedule in 2016, giving the Olympic tournament the widest possible media attention.  MLB will not play any games on the final day where the medals will be determined.
  • All four potential host cities for 2016 have established baseball stadia and programmes in place.
  • MLB will work with the IOC to create a year-round marketing partnership designed to increase awareness not just for baseball, but for the Olympic programme overall.
  • Baseball will continue to take a leadership position amongst all sports in anti-doping, and will continue to expand its in and out of competition testing programmes.
  • A continued year-round commitment to grow the game globally at the grassroots level for young boys and girls, especially focused on emerging nations and across Europe.
  • The commitment from young elite players from around the globe who may be eligible in 2016, including de Jong and top American 16 year old prospect Bryce Harper, to participate in 2016 should their respective countries qualify.

The following are excerpts from today’s transcript:

Bob DuPuy:

“Baseball will make a commitment over the next seven years to use all of our assets:  television, including our new network which is in more than 50 million homes, and our jewel events, which are broadcast to 225 countries in 13 languages, the world’s best sports digital platform, grassroots campaigns and support of special events such as Olympic day to grow awareness of all of the core values that we share and can promote together. We will work with the IOC to find opportunities in sponsorship and licensing where our year round global reach and popularity and our growing cadre of international stars can assist in growing Olympic marketing opportunities.”

Donald Fehr:

“The MLBPA has and will continue to work closely with the IBAF, Major League Baseball, the Japanese and other professional leagues, and, of course, players the world over to come up with the best scenario so that more top players will be able to participate, and  fulfill the dream of representing their countries in the Olympic Games.  We will make sure that happens, and the 2016 Olympics will have the best representation of players ever to participate in any Olympics.

I am confident that MLB and the MLBPA, along with the NPB, the Korean League and Players Associations in Asia will make available to the qualifying countries a to-be-determined number of top players, with the rest of the roster coming from the best athletes available from the professional ranks.   The teams will have a sampling of the best individuals in the sport, and the best-ever representative national teams.  

Young players in the game today, who are much more familiar with international competition than were players of earlier generations, have already begun to ask about participation in 2016, and to express their intent to do so.  In fact, you have a statement from the highest rated young player in America, who has just been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, expressing his commitment to the 2016 Games.”

Baseball was one of seven sports to present to the IOC Monday.  It is expected that a recommendation for inclusion of two of the seven sports will be made by the IOC Executive Board during the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germany the week of 15 August.  Those sports will then be presented to the IOC membership for a vote at the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark 2-5 October.  Baseball has been a part of the Olympic programme since 1992.