WBSC returns Premier12 to Japan

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has reached an agreement with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league for the country to stage games during the 2019 edition of its Premier12 men’s national team baseball competition.

Japan will stage the ‘super round’ of the event, as well as the finals. The super round will act as the second round of the tournament and will feature six nations.

The 30,000-seat Chiba Marine Stadium and the 45,000-capacity Tokyo Dome will serve as host venues.

The Premier12 will also act as a qualifying event for the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Baseball/softball has been added to the programme of events for Tokyo 2020 along with karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

The 2019 Premier12 will mark the second edition of the competition following its inaugural staging in 2015. Japan co-hosted the 2015 event, which was won by South Korea, alongside Taiwan.

"WBSC is excited to partner again with Nippon Professional Baseball on the staging of the WBSC Premier12, incorporating the exciting best-vs-best Super Round into the tournament format for the first time," WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said.

"NPB is one of the world's top sports leagues and was a major reason behind the enormous success of the inaugural Premier12. With this expanded partnership between WBSC and NPB, and the road to Tokyo 2020, the next edition of the Premier12 promises to be one of the biggest international sports events on the 2019 calendar."

The WBSC is currently in discussions with prospective co-hosts and is seeking countries to stage the opening round of the event.

The 2019 Premier12 will be contested by the top 12 nations in the WBSC world rankings at the end of 2018.