Press Release International Baseball Federation, www.ibaf.org
IMPROVED COMPETITION AND GRASSROOTS EFFORTS IN EMERGING NATIONS, CONTINUED STRONG PLAY IN ESTABLISHED COUNTRIES FUEL BASEBALL GROWTH IN ASIA
(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) – The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) released data Thursday, showing the continued expansion of baseball throughout Asia, a geographic area that has long established baseball traditions but is now seeing a surge in interest among the region’s emerging nations as well.
“Asian countries like Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea have long established baseball as their national sport, and the growth and interest in baseball on all levels continue throughout those countries, even in a down economy,” said IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller.
“What is really encouraging is seeing the growth in baseball programs for both boys and girls in countries like China, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and India. Exposure to the game of baseball in these countries through broadcasting, clinics and even in new media is steadily raising interest, participation and the level of play to levels never before seen. It once again shows the continued global nature of baseball as a sport for all with a very bright future.”
Some of the most encouraging signs of growth for baseball in Asia include:
- China’s announcement last week of a ten-year, fully funded grassroots program to further develop the sport among young people, combined with Major League Baseball’s continued extensive grassroots programs for coaches, players and officials in the country.
- A sharp increase in enrollment in programs for girls in Japan and record registration for the country’s third annual Pitch, Hit and Run event, which showcased the individual baseball skills of boys and girls. Additionally, over 430,000 fans attended the Japanese High School Baseball Championship Playoffs in May.
- Record television ratings and Web site traffic for Korean baseball following its successful run to the finals of the World Baseball Classic.
- The Chinese Taipei government’s announcement earlier this spring to fully fund extended baseball programs for youth and elite teams for boys and girls.
- The emergence of Pakistan and Indonesia on the international baseball landscape, with Indonesia winning the Asian Cup qualifier over Pakistan 3-2 in Thailand two weeks ago.
- Despite tremendous political turmoil, the improved play and participation of Sri Lanka in the Asian Cup qualifier, in which the team defeated traditional threat Thailand.
- The establishment of school programs and coaching certification programs in cities throughout India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other emerging nations.
The next major international competition in Asia will be the Asian Championships, which will be held in Narita and Sapporo, Japan from 31 July – 4 August. Competing nations will include Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, China, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Additionally, both the Japanese and Korean professional leagues continue to post solid attendance, television and sponsorship numbers despite the downturn in the global economy, all positive signs for a sport which boasts more than one billion fans and will have its World Cup this September in cities across Europe.
About the International Baseball Federation (IBAF)
Founded in 1938, the International Baseball Federation is a non-governmental organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as administering men’s and women’s baseball at the world level. Located in Lausanne, Switzerland – the Olympic Capital – and counting 125 National Member Federations, the IBAF organizes the IBAF Men’s and Women’s Baseball World Cup, the AAA (18U) and AA (16U) World Championships, the Olympic Games Baseball Tournament, and it sanctions the World Baseball Classic, among other international baseball tournaments. The IBAF works to develop and grow the game of baseball around the world. For more information, please visit www.ibaf.org and www.2009baseballworldcup.com.