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IBAF Announces Plan To Add Women’s Baseball To The Olympic Program

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) today announced that it is moving forward with an addendum to its original submission to the International Olympic Committee, which will propose to add baseball as a women’s discipline for the 2016 games. The addendum is expected to be submitted to the IOC no later than May 1, 2009.

“There has been a great amount of talk about adding women’s baseball over the past year, but recently the growth of the sport in places where baseball is already popular, as well as the request by new federations to increase the number of young girls playing in baseball, has led us to move ahead and amend our 2016 proposal,” says Dr. Harvey Schiller, President of the IBAF.

“We have shown that baseball is a sport for all, and the addition of a women’s discipline for the Olympics…which will take the place of our women’s World Cup in 2016…only further illustrates that point.”

Currently over 30 of the IBAF’s 128 member Federations have a full discipline for women, although almost all have combined programs for boys and girls through at least age ten.  The addition of women’s discipline would likely double the number of federations offering a full women’s discipline in the next year, and will increase the number of countries eligible for the Women’s World Cup in 2010.  The Women’s Baseball World Cup was held in Japan in 2008, with the host country defeating Canada in the final before a near-capacity crowd.  The host of the 2010 World Cup will be announced in the coming months, with no less than eight nations interested in hosting the event.

The IBAF is also in the process of finalizing a committee of sports executives who will work specifically on the growth of the women’s discipline worldwide.  The committee will include Sandra Monteiro, the president of Baseball Portugal, as well as André Lachance of Baseball Canada and others.  The IBAF has also received very enthusiastic support on the issue from both Major League Baseball in the United States and the Japanese Professional Leagues. 

Currently over 500,000 young women play baseball around the world, with the number growing exponentially every year. Two weeks ago, Eri Yoshida became the first female to pitch in Japanese professional baseball, striking out the first batter she faced and touching off an immediate growth of young Japanese women interested in baseball.