The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has revealed details of a new street discipline in a move designed to help secure the two sports’ long-term future on the Olympic Games programme.
Baseball5 can be played on any surface and features five-inning games with five players on each team. Only a rubber ball is needed, with hitting done by hand. Distance between the bases is 13 metres.
The WBSC has also launched a new digital platform at wbsc.org/baseball5. The platform features resources such as rules, videos and developments relating to the discipline and has been launched in English and Spanish. It will soon be available in Japanese, Korean, French and Traditional Chinese.
WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said: “This fast, youth-oriented and easy to learn urban game will help take baseball and softball to places not before possible, helping to drive worldwide fan and participation numbers to our target of one billion over the next decade.”
Baseball and softball will be contested at the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics in what will mark the sports' first appearances at a Games since Beijing 2008. The sports’ long-term future on the Olympic programme after Tokyo is not assured and a bid is currently being drawn up for Paris 2024.
Fraccari added: “As the youth-focused urban version of baseball/softball does not require dedicated sports equipment or venues, Baseball5 closely aligns with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach's innovative Olympic Agenda 2020 vision.
“Baseball5 will become a key component in our Olympic and growth strategies by further introducing and popularising the game among young people and mass audiences across the world – in Europe, where the Paris 2024 Games will be staged, and wherever the Games may be held in the future. I also envision a future where five-on-five baseball/softball can itself grow into an Olympic event.”
Baseball5 will feature at the sports initiation zone at this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October.