WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari praised baseball and softball's appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©WBSC

In his end-of-year message, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari has claimed the governing body delivered an "incredibly successful" event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and action mostly unfolded without spectators with large swathes of Japan under a state of emergency.

That included the Yokohama Stadium, where the majority of the baseball and softball matches were played. 

Fraccari admitted it was disappointing to see empty stands while competition was ongoing, but praised players and staff for the roles in an "incredibly successful" event.

"We managed to complete the Olympic Qualifiers on the playing field and, by implementing stringent and complex protocols, we completed all the tournaments without any contagion," Fraccari's end-of-year message read.

"Admittedly, it was extremely disappointing to see empty stadiums with no spectators in Tokyo, but through teamwork and unity, our sport delivered incredibly successful competitions at the Games, with plenty of drama, brilliant action and close games throughout.

"Every single athlete and team showcased why our sport is an excellent fit for the Olympic Games through outstanding performances and sporting excellence, which captured the attention of fans around the world. 

"It was clear for all to see that baseball and softball added tangible, meaningful value and brought millions of passionate viewers to the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"Allow me to thank all of you for making baseball and softball’s long-anticipated return to the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020 a truly special occasion.

"Of course, our heartfelt thanks and gratitude must go to our friends in Japan, including our colleagues at Nippon Professional Baseball, for helping to operate and deliver an incredible Games amid the most difficult circumstances."

Baseball and softball made an Olympic return after a 13-year hiatus following Beijing 2008, but have been left off the Olympic programme for the Paris 2024 Games.

Fraccari again reiterated hope to have the sport return at Los Angeles 2028.

"We again demonstrated how the WBSC is a strong, reliable and flexible partner for future Organising Committees, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and the Olympic Movement, and we remain fully committed to securing our place on the Olympic programme for our fans, our teams and their athletes," he said.

The Italian added: "With softball the biggest female team sport in the United States, we are excited about bringing back the Olympic Dream to millions of girls in the country while baseball and softball’s fan base in the US and around the world will ensure that they will be one of the most eagerly anticipated sports at Los Angeles 2028."