WBSC and Japan Baseball leaders applaud Premier12 and its growth of international baseball

“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan."

World Baseball and Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari and President of the Baseball Federation of Japan Masatake Yamanaka have lauded the success of the WBSC Premier12 and baseball in Japan overall.

With two days of the WBSC Premier12 Super Round left to play before the medal matches on Sunday, Mr Fraccari and Mr Yamanaka were in agreement about how important the Premier12 is for international baseball and the growth of the sport around the world.

“Premier12 is extremely important to international baseball, providing the opportunity for teams to compete in a high-level, international event,” said Mr Masatake Yamanaka, President of the Baseball Federation of Japan. “As the Sports Director of Samurai Japan, I work on player selection and their preparation, but at the same time, together with NPB, we worked with the Tokyo Dome and ZOZO Marine Stadium to make the event very successful and provide a welcoming experience for each team and their fans who are coming here from all over the world.”

“This second edition of the Premier12 is yet another example of the continuous growth of international baseball,” said WBSC President, Riccardo Fraccari. “For this we must also praise the relationship with all professional leagues around the world; without them an event of this level would not be possible. Next summer, our athletes will be once again representing their countries, this time on the highest sport stage, the Olympic Games. The whole global baseball community is excited about it. Japan has been a wonderful home for international baseball this week and we expect to continue to showcase the best of our sport.”

Baseball was introduced in Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, an American Teacher at Ichiban Chugaku (now Tokyo University) who presented the game to its students. Since then, baseball has become one of the most iconic and popular activities in Japan. The NPB is Japan's largest professional sports competition in terms of television ratings and spectators, that’s why baseball is expected to be one of the most important events during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

It is the second time for the WBSC Premier12 to feature in Japan after the 2015 Opening Game and Finals were held here at Sapporo Dome and Tokyo Dome respectively. The top international baseball competition in recent years, the Premier12 is the perfect lead in to what will be the historic return of baseball to the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.


Efren Navarro: “This is historic for Mexico”

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Clark hit a clutch home run in the ninth inning to tie the game, while Navarro hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics
Mexico defeated today USA, 3-2, in ten innings in a great team effort. However, the game had two heroes: Matt Clark and Efren Navarro.

“Qualify for the first time for the Olympic Games is historic for Mexico,” said Navarro, who hit the game-winning RBI single in the tenth to send Mexico to the Olympics, during the post-game interview.

“It’s a great honour. I respect a lot USA, they have great prospects that will be soon in the Major Leagues, but tonight was our night.”

“We all grow up dreaming on defending your country and playing in the Olympics. And being the first time for Mexico it’s such an honour for us and for the fans.”

Asked about the game-winning hit, Navarro said: “First we must credit the team. Our pitchers, the lineup, Clark, who homered to keep us in the game. Every at-bat is very important, I just tried to fight, to play for the team and thanks god I could do it.”

“We’re going to the Olympics,” said Clark, who tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a solo dinger. “You can’t put it in words, is such a great achievement as a country, as players, as coaches… everybody that’s involved back home, the fans. It’s going to be an amazing experience for everybody to be able to go there and show the world what we have.”

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Cuba wins in extras, still in play for Premier12 super round

Starter Bladimir Banos couldn't get an out, but reliever Lazaro Blanco got Cuba out of a first-inning bases-loaded jam. NPB star Yurisbel Gracial won it in the bottom of the tenth with a sacrifice fly.

No. 5 ranked Cuba defeated no. 7 ranked Australia, 3-2 after 10 innings and kept its hopes to advance to the WBSC Premier12 Super Round intact. Livan Moinelo earned the win. He pitched two perfect innings, highlighting a brilliant effort by Cuba’s bullpen.

Starter Bladimir Banos couldn’t get an out in the top of the first. He gave up back to back singles to right fielder Tim Kennelly and left fielder Andrew Campbell, then walked the bases loaded.

Cuba’s manager Miguel Borroto wasted no time in giving the call to the bullpen.
“Everybody on the pitching staff knew that they were going to have only two chances,” said Borroto.

“Banos actually had three. It was simply not his day. We had to win this game at all costs, I have to think about the team, not the single-player.”

Veteran right-hander Lazaro Blanco proved his manager right. He needed only three pitches to strike out designated hitter Mitch Nilsson. Aussie center fielder Aaron Whitefield hit a fly to shallow right field for the second out. Yurisbel Gracial completed the inning-ending double play with a perfect throw home. Catcher Yosvani Alarcon had plenty of time to tag Tim Kennelly out.

“We missed a huge opportunity in the first,” commented Australia’s manager David Nilsson.

“We need to be better at-bat if we want to make it to the next level on the international stage. This is a very good team, but my players need to learn how to swing the bat with runners in scoring position.”

The game went into the extra innings tied at two. Cuba’s shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena thought he had won it when he sent a deep fly to dead center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Aaron Whitefield kept Australia alive with a superb running catch off the wall.

Australia failed to score in the top of the tenth despite the international tie-break rule, that sets runners at second and first with none out.

Cuba’s center fielder Ruel Santos bunted and advanced the tie-break runners. Catcher Yosvani Alarcon reached third beating the throw by first baseman David Sutherland and Arruebarrena reached second. Pinch hitter William Saavedra was the first out on a fly to shallow-left field. Right fielder Yurisbel Gracial looked at two balls and then lined out to center. His fly was deep enough for Alarcon to score from third and win the game.

“It was a very important at-bat,” commented Gracial, who was named the MVP of the game.

“Also Alarcon ran the bases very well in the tenth inning. Thank God we could both come up for Cuba.”

Gracial is a 28-home run hitter for the NPB Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and has had a very long season.

“It’s true, it was a very long season," said Gracial on a final note. There’s no time to rest though. We need to take Cuba as far as possible in this Premier12.”

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Samsung leaves China due to competition from national brands

South Korean giant Samsung - the world's leading smartphone brand - closed its plants in China due to the rise of national brands, and thus follows other foreign firms that have left this market, local press reported on Thursday.

According to CGTN television channel, the company made the decision after cutting production in its only Chinese factory, located in the southern city of Huizhou, back in June.

Samsung previously closed other facilities on Chinese soil and expanded its presence in India and Vietnam.

However, the firm will continue to sell its devices in China.

Like firms from different sectors, Samsung cited strong competition with local brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi, rising labor costs and the economic downturn.

It was learned that the Japanese firm Sony is also concluding its business in China and will establish smartphone plants in Thailand.

In recent years, several multinationals in the technology sector such as Olympus, Nikon and LG, among others, have relocated from China to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia.

Talks continue on possible joint Korean hockey team at Tokyo 2020 despite missed deadline

Talks are reportedly continuing about North and South Korea forming a unified women's hockey team at Tokyo 2020, despite the advanced stage of the qualification process.

The neighbours previously agreed to join forces in the sport for next year's Olympic Games, as well as in women's basketball, judo and rowing.

But no progress has been made in hockey, and South Korea competed alone at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Series Finals tournament in Ireland in June, part of the Tokyo 2020 qualification pathway.

They came through successfully and now face a two-leg clash with Spain in Valencia next month, where the winners will reach the Games.

Kyodo News reported that an FIH deadline of yesterday to apply for a joint team had been missed, with sources claiming this marked the end of the road.

Should South Korea qualify, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could then approve a unified squad.

Talks are reportedly ongoing between the IOC and the National Olympic Committees in both North and South Korea.

FIH chief executive Thierry Weil said to Kyodo News that if South Korea qualifies, the final decision on the joint team would be down to the IOC.

However, South Korea have reportedly heard nothing from North Korea when trying to organise combined training sessions.

The IOC is keen to encourage joint sports teams on the Korean peninsula as a way of promoting peace between the two nations, who technically remain at war.

North Korea competed at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in the South after the country's leader Kim Jong-un announced that the secretive state would take part.

Korea formed a unified women's ice hockey team at Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images
Korea formed a unified women's ice hockey team at Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images

Both Koreas marched together under a unified flag at the Opening Ceremony and also fielded a joint women's ice hockey team.

There are now tentative plans for a joint-Korean bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics, a prospect IOC President Thomas Bach told insidethegames he "welcomes very much".

North Korean participation dominated the build-up to Pyeongchang 2018 following security concerns over missile tests and nuclear threats in the North.

Bach later admitted that the Games came close to being cancelled over safety fears, with Kim exchanging fierce rhetoric with United States President Donald Trump.

Further initiatives in Pyeongchang saw a squad of cheerleaders from the North deployed and, arguably most significantly of all, a high-level North Korean delegation travelled which included Kim Yo-jong – the sister of the leader. 

In March 2018, Bach met with Jong-un in Pyongyang and discussions began on North Korean participation at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Games.

Unified Korean teams were then selected for last year's Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, in dragon boat racing, lightweight rowing and women's basketball.

The unified Korean dragon boat team made history as they claimed gold in the women's 500 metres race. 

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Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin Confirm Willingness to Cooperate

The Chairman of the State Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un, and Russian President Vladimir Puntin reiterated Thursday their friendship and willingness to cooperate.

The intentions were emphasized by both leaders during an exchange of messages on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation (August 15, 1945), according to the website of the DPRK Foreign Ministry.

Kim Jong-un, also president of the Workers' Party, said in his letter to the Russian leader that relations between Pyongyang and Moscow were at a new advanced stage.

He cited as examples the economy, culture and politics, among other sectors, which have as direct references the historical relations of brotherhood.

He added that Koreans will always remember the internationalist feats of the heroic officers and soldiers of the Red Army, who offered their precious lives for the sacred cause of Korea's liberation and accompanied the Koreans in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle.

In his text to Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia and the DPRK have friendly and constructive relations.

  • Published in World

Japanese, South Korean FMs to Discuss Trade Dispute

Foreign Ministers of South Korea and Japan will meet this Thursday in Bangkok to negotiate a solution to the trade confrontation between the two countries.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono are in Bangkok to participate in the Regional Forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The diplomats will take advantage of the meeting to hold the first meeting between the two since the Japanese government banned the export to South Korea of materials for high-tech equipment.

The bilateral talks will be held one day before the Japanese government approves a law amendment to remove Seoul from the so-called white list of trusted trading partners.

At the bilateral meeting, Kang will urge Kono to withdraw what the South Korean Executive has described as unfair and unilateral measures, as well as the cancellation of South Korea's exclusion from the group of countries with minimal restrictions.

Tokyo and Seoul are in the midst of an unprecedented lawsuit due to the Japanese ban on selling to South Koreans raw materials for the production of high-tech equipment on the pretext that they are sent to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to manufacture weapons.

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Korea wins thriller against Venezuela in Day 4 of the U-12 Baseball World Cup

Day 4 of the U-12 Baseball World Cup made it clear that Japan and Chinese Taipei in group A and Korea in group B will play the super round.

Korea defeated Venezuela, 6-5, in what has been by far the most exciting game of the tournament so far. Venezuela tied it on a home run by Johan Fernandez and Korea walked it off on a solo shot by Park Yechan.

In the other two games of Day 4 in group B Mexico and the USA warmed up for the key matchup scheduled on Tuesday, 30 July.

Mexico used 26 hits to outscore Australia, 21-2

The USA scored 11 in the first and combined 28 hits to beat Italy, 28-1.

There were no surprises in group B.

The hosts Chinese Taipei needed five innings and two home runs to beat the Czech Republic, 16-0.

Cuba also played five innings and used the long ball, three home runs, to overcome South Africa, 13-0.

Cuba and the Czech Republic are now tied in third place and will face an elimination game on Tuesday, 30 July.

Japan overwhelmed Fiji 30-0. The young Samurai got 23 hits, including three home runs.

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Cuban President's Tour: Reunion with Friends of all Time

Russia, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, five visits to those countries of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, cemented in just two weeks old and valuable relations, confirming that times pass, but the real ones friends are left.

Almost like a road map, Díaz-Canel used his Twitter account to report the main incidents in each nation and his impressions about a journey aimed at ratifying 'the continuity of the Revolution and thanks for the solidarity that fuels our resistance'.

The Cuban president made a brief stop in France, where he met with the Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, and with the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

From there he traveled on Friday 2 to Russia, where he held official talks with his counterpart from that country, Vladimir Putin.

He also met with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, the headlines of the Duma (Lower House), Vyacheslav Volodin, and the Senate, Valentina Matvienko, the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russians Kiril.

At the end of their stay in Moscow, Diaz-Canel and Putin signed a joint statement in which they reaffirmed the strategic partnership between their countries, condemned the interventionism and advocated a multi-polar world.

The visit left the balance of the agreement of a greater participation of Russia in projects related to energy, transport, pharmaceutical, metallurgy, culture and humanities.

At the start of the Asian leg of his tour, the Cuban president arrived at noon on Sunday 4 to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), where he received a massive popular reception at the airport and the main avenues of Pyongyang.

In addition to holding official talks with the chairman of the State Committee of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, Diaz-Canel met more than once with him and renewed the friendship between the two nations.

Our relations are historical and are based on mutual respect and admiration, founded on the friendship of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and the great leader Kim Il-sung, he said.

The Cuban president also met with the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong Nam, and with Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju.

The respective delegations signed cooperation agreements in areas such as tourism, education and public health.

When he left, he wrote in his Twitter account: 'The delegation of #Cuba says goodbye to the beautiful # RepúbicaPopularDemocráticaDeCorea, to which we thank their unwavering condemnation of the blockade, a cruel and unjust policy that also suffers the Korean people for sanctions against their government #NoMasBlock '.

In China, Díaz-Canel attended the first International Exposition of Imports in Shanghai, attended by more than three thousand local and foreign companies.

In the Asian giant he was received by President Xi Jinping; Prime Minister Li Keqiang; and the President of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Li Zhanshu.

After the official talks, the parties signed agreements to increase production capacity in prioritized collaboration projects and the granting of a Chinese loan that will support the acquisition of construction equipment for the renewable energy and tourism sectors, among others.

Diaz-Canel arrived in Vietnam almost at midnight on Thursday 8 and the following day held official talks with the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President of this country, Nguyen Phu Trong, who imposed the Order of Ho Chi Minh.

The two presidents also witnessed the signing of the trade agreement that over the next few years will govern the operations of the two countries in this area.

In Hanoi, Diaz-Canel was also received by the Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and the head of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

On Saturday 10, he traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam and its main economic, industrial and financial center, and from there he flew directly to the neighboring Lao People's Democratic Republic (RDPL).

In Vientiane held official talks with the president and general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, Bounnhang Vorachith.

Both also witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Education and Sports of the RDPL and the National Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Recreation of the Antillean nation.

Members of its delegations also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Bank of the RDPL and the Central Bank of Cuba.

Diaz-Canel also met with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and the head of the National Assembly, Pany Yathotou.

  • Published in Cuba
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