The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is re-branding its male and female world championships as the Softball World Cups and has switched the dates for future men’s and women’s tournaments to avoid the women’s World Cup clashing with the Olympic Games.
The changes – prompted by baseball and softball’s return to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games schedule – mean the Black Sox will play in the first men’s World Cup in 2022 – a year after hosting the final world championships in Auckland.
Softball New Zealand (SNZ) has accepted the changes, which were decided at the WBSC’s softball division board meeting in Rome on Thursday.
“There are pros and cons, but from our point of view it makes sense given the WBSC focus on Olympic Games inclusion,” SNZ chief executive Tony Giles said.
“The only negative from my point of view is it means our men’s pinnacle event [the Softball World Cup] will be competing against an Olympic Games.
“That provides some challenges, commercially, and from a media perspective for our seven-time world champions.”
The men’s world championships were switched to odd-numbered years from 2009 after SNZ successfully lobbied the International Softball Federation (WBSC’s predecessor) in 2004 to avoid a clash with the Olympic Games. The SNZ’s stance was prompted, in part, by the Black Sox being overlooked for Halberg Award honours with Olympic gold medallists gaining ultimate recognition.
President Riccardo Fraccari has made no secret that the WBSC’s main goal is to re-establish baseball and softball as Olympic sports.
The two diamond sports have only been confirmed for the Tokyo Games at this stage.
“Priority is getting baseball and softball on the Paris24 Olympic Games programme,” Fraccari said in a tweet.