The World Baseball Softball Confederation is to stage its major World Cups every four years from now on, as part of a revamp of the calendar.
The change, which was prompted by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, applies to the Women’s Baseball World Cup and all Softball World Cups, which have until now been played every two years.
The events will therefore be held in a similar timeline to the WBSC’s flagship men's baseball competition, the Premier12, and ensure “a more balanced and efficient competition calendar for these categories” for the period from 2021 to 2029, according to the international federation.
The U-12, U-15, U-18 and U-23 Baseball World Cups will continue to be held every two years.
The change comes with baseball and softball returning to the Olympic Games for this year’s delayed event in Tokyo.
There will also be a new two-stage competition system for the Women’s Baseball World Cup, the Women’s Softball World Cup and the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup that puts a focus on the final stages.
WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari said: “The pandemic has forced us to rethink our events, innovate and be more efficient with tournament planning. During 2020, working groups for baseball and softball met periodically in order to examine the WBSC competitions and make a proposal to improve them for all our stakeholders, that was approved by the WBSC Executive Committee.”
He added: “This new system will help the WBSC family mitigate the economic crisis the world is facing, providing greater opportunities for teams to participate as well as for more cities to be able to host WBSC events. The ‘Finals’ will be a far greater product with lower costs for the organisers and a more intense competition over fewer days.”
The federation is also planning a new bidding process for WBSC World Cups, which it claims to be “more orderly, transparent and robust.”
Fraccari said: “ With these improvements, we put the WBSC family and our sports in a stronger position to face the challenges ahead, setting the tone to continue growing the game around the globe by offering quality international events to athletes, fans, sponsors and all the stakeholders of our beloved game.”