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Taipei likely to host 2015 inaugural Premier 12 tournament: IBAF head

TAIPEI -- Taiwan is very likely to host the inaugural Premier 12 baseball tournament in 2015, International Baseball Federation (IBAF) President Riccardo Fraccari said Monday.

Fraccari said in Taipei that there was a 99.9 percent chance that the Premier 12 will be held in Taiwan, and that the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association will sponsor it.

The Premier 12, a tournament for the 12 best national baseball teams in the world, will replace the Baseball World Cup, which ended in 2011, and be held every four years.

The IBAF has also held the prestigious World Baseball Classic in 2006, 2009 and 2013 and will continue to hold it every four years, but with baseball no longer an Olympic sport, IBAF members wanted to hold a major tournament every two years and conceived the Premier 12.

The Chinese Baseball Association said the Premier 12 had been in the works for more than a year and will be held in November 2015, after professional seasons around the world end so that more top players can participate.

“Barring any unexpected circumstances, the Premier 12 will be held by the association,” its secretary-general Lin Tsung-cheng said, although he did not rule out the possibility of co-hosting it with Japan, saying it would bring greater benefits.

Fraccari said his Asian journey will next take him to Tokyo, where he will discuss the issue of having baseball included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Baseball and softball were removed from the Olympics after the 2008 Games, and lost out to wrestling in a vote in September 2013 to reinstate a sport to the 2020 Olympics.

Even though the two sports lost out, there remains a major push to get them into the Tokyo Games in baseball-crazy Japan. A decision will be made when the Olympic Agenda 2020 is discussed later this year.

The 2019 Premier 12 could serve as the qualification tournament for Olympic baseball were the sport reinstated at the Tokyo Games, Fraccari said.

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