Baseball/Softball, Wrestling, Campaign For Olympic Inclusion

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) campaign for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games received a major boost with official opening weekend activities at the first dedicated national baseball and softball venue in Britain.

According to a press release, the facility, which features a full size international standard baseball field and three softball/youth baseball fields, was designed to encourage young people and women and girls into the sports from Britain’s multicultural communities.

The opening ceremony for the venue Saturday at Farnham Park in Slough near London, was the culmination of planning by Baseball/SoftballUK and funding from Sport England.

The facility was also jointly financed by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund of Major League Baseball (MLB) which, along with other professional leagues around the world, is providing important support and backing for the WBSC campaign for inclusion in the 2020 Games.

John Boyd, Joint CEO and Head of Development at Baseball/SoftballUK said, “this is the first facility of its kind here in the United Kingdom and has been in part funded by Sport England and the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, and is part of BaseballSoftballUK’s highly successful vision for the sports to be played in every part – a growth strategy that has seen the number of regularly playing baseball and softballers double over the past four years from 10,000 to 20000”.

“This is a momentous achievement that will further attract athletes to our sport in the UK and underpin baseball and softball’s continued rise in Europe and worldwide emergence”, said WBSC co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter.

“We fully support the single baseball/softball venue concept, as WBSC is proposing a streamlined shared venue for the 2020 Olympic Games. The forward-thinking Farnham Park project highlights the significant benefits and realities of baseball and softball’s partnership and long-term sustainability.

“The World Baseball Softball Confederation regards the Olympic Games as the highest honour and greatest goal for every athlete and sport, and we will place our full global resources and passion for the Games at the service of the Olympic Movement.”

Meanwhile youth wrestlers competed Sunday on the grounds of the Palaestra in Ancient Olympia, Greece, making history as the first wrestlers to compete in the area since the end of the Ancient Olympic Games era in 393 AD.

Wrestling is another sport competing for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games Program. If the sport does not retain its position in the program, it could be the last time wrestling appears as a sport in the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) President Nenad Lalovic, who was in Greece for the event said, “it is important for young wrestlers to know the rich history of the sport; that wrestling was one of the original Olympic sports from ancient times, and that this was its birthplace. I am proud as the President of FILA that we were able to make this incredible moment happen. These youth, an many more like them around the world, dream of wrestling in the Olympic Games and we are doing everything we can to ensure they have that opportunity”.