The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has announced a partnership with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) granting Japan co-hosting rights to its new Premier 12 national team competition.
Set to debut in November, the NPB will host a special grand opening contest, the semi-finals, and medal round of the WBSC's new flagship professional baseball world championship featuring the men’s national teams from the top 12-ranked nations.
The 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome will host the 2015 Premier 12 semi-finals, bronze medal contest and the decisive gold medal finale. It was also revealed today (Monday) that a “secret” location will be announced in the coming weeks for the grand opening of the Premier 12 in Japan, along with special opening ceremonies. The opening round-robin, except for the special grand opening contest in Japan, and quarter finals of the Premier 12 will be staged in Chinese Taipei, following an announcement made in July.
WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said: “I am particularly proud of how we were able to work together with all the various stakeholders to get this done and have Premier 12 co-hosted by two nations where our sport is the established leader among athletes, fans, sponsors, and can generate record viewer ratings and engaging in-stadium experiences.”
NPB commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki added: “This is a great privilege and responsibility for NPB, and we have every confidence in the success of the WBSC Premier 12. NPB is committed to – in strong partnership with WBSC – further raising the profile of WBSC-sanctioned international events, particularly those that feature national teams and that showcase our sport and our athletes playing for their countries on the global stage like the Premier 12.”
The dates for the inaugural Premier 12 have also been finalised as November 8-21, with the award of hosting rights to Japan coming as the WBSC continues to press for the inclusion of baseball and softball at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The sports were taken off the Olympic programme following the 2008 Games in Beijing, China, and finished behind only wrestling in a 2013 vote for inclusion at Rio 2016.
Fraccari added: “I believe that Japan's passion for baseball and softball, if included at the Tokyo 2020 Games, will unite and engage the entire Olympic host nation of Japan behind the Games and the Olympic ideals of sport in society – as well as honour Japan's sporting heritage.
“The inclusion of baseball and softball at Tokyo 2020 will also make the Olympic Games, the Olympic magic and values more relevant and accessible to millions of new and loyal baseball and softball fans and players in the growing list of nations where baseball and softball are now part of the sporting landscape in the 21st century and continuing to grow in popularity.”