Creation of WBSC not just about Olympics, says secretary general
By Gary Anderson at the Hotel El Mehari in Hammamet
The creation of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) was not just to secure a return to the Olympic programme but to develop all levels of both sports, the organisation's secretary general Low Beng Choo has said.
The Malaysian, who was elected unopposed as secretary general here at the WBSC's inaugural Congress in the Tunisian seaside resort, has claimed that although returning baseball and softball to the Olympics is a key target, the body's long term goal is to look beyond the Games and ensure the global development of both sports.
The WBSC came into being following the merging of the International Softball Federation (ISF) and the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) in December 2012 in a move primarily motivated to help baseball and softball's campaign to secure a place at Tokyo 2020.
However, the campaign proved unsuccessful, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) controversially voting at its Session in Buenos Aires to retain wrestling on the programme for Tokyo, despite it being recommended for exclusion after Rio 2016 by the ruling executive board.
Nevertheless, both sports still harbour hopes of winning a reprieve for Tokyo 2020 after IOC President Thomas Bach intimated that they could yet make the cut as part of his Agenda 2020 plan.
The WBSC is planning to meet with Bach prior to an Extraordinary Session of the IOC, which is due to take place in Monte Carlo in December, where a decision on whether baseball and softball will make their Olympic return following Beijing 2008 is expected to be made.
But, while admitting the December meeting is crucial, Low insists that it is not the be-all and end-all for baseball and softball.
"Of course our primary goal is for Tokyo 2020 but that's not the end," Low, who is vice-president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia and also secretary general of the ISF, told insidethegames.
"The WBSC is not just about the Olympics but it is about the development of all our disciplines.
"We want to make sure that our other disciplines such as men's softball and women's baseball plus all our disciplines don't fall through the crack.
"The WBSC is creating commissions especially to look into this so that for example the women's baseball people don't feel like they are not a part of it and the men's softball people also.
"We are telling them from day one that they are very much a part of our disciplines."
Low, who served as the secretary general on the interim WBSC board before being officially elected here, added that she remains very hopeful that should the sports be accepted for Tokyo 2020 that both men's softball and women's baseball could potentially be included eventually.
The inaugural WBSC Congress saw a new 13-member executive board appointed to run the organisation, which will be led by IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari, who was elected unopposed following former ISF President Don Porter's decision not to run.
Both men had been acting co-Presidents of the WBSC since the merger of the international governing bodies.