Press Release World Baseball Softball Confederation
LAUSANNE (Switzerland) — The WBSC has praised the popularity and success of the 2016 Japan Series, while expressing its commitment to leverage baseball/softball’s profile in Japan to capture the attention of the world when the sport returns to the Olympic programme at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The six-game 2016 Japan Series — won by Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters — had a total attendance of 213,685 and was played in front of capacity crowds at the Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima and the Sapporo Dome in Sapporo.
The series wrapped up the 2016 NPB season, following a record-breaking year where total attendance figures reached 25 million for the very first time. NPB is the second highest attended sports league in the world in terms of annual attendance. The Tokyo metropolitan area has two NPB franchises — Yomiuri Giants and Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The Yomiuri Giants had the highest attendance in the league and attracted 3 million total attendees in 2016 with an average of 41,724 per game at the Tokyo Dome.
In Japan, baseball and softball have remained the number one sports and a central part of the culture for more than 70 years. A recent sport marketing report substantiated the claim that baseball is the most watched and favourite sport in the country.
The WBSC PREMIER12® last November was Japan’s most-watched international sports event broadcast in 2015. The WBSC PREMIER12 also generated the highest volume of online media buzz among young digital users in Japan, with over 2 billion social media impressions, which surpassed all other major sports events viewed by Japanese audiences in 2015.
“The unprecedented popularity and success of the 2016 NPB season and Japan Series is further evidence of the exciting opportunity for the Olympic Movement, WBSC and Japan to reach a new generation of fans during Tokyo 2020,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said.
“Over the past few years, the WBSC has leveraged and has been fortunate to benefit from baseball and softball’s unparalleled position in Japanese culture to connect the sport with even more audiences around the world. With full capacity stadiums and passionate crowds, the 2016 Japan Series is a concrete example of what’s to come in 2020 when baseball/softball returns to the Olympic Games.
“The WBSC is committed to working with all our stakeholders to leverage the popularity of the sport in Japan to capture the attention of the world during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Our sport can make a valuable contribution to the Olympic Movement and we are in a privileged position to work with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 to spread the Olympic values to our loyal fan bases around the world.”