World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) vice-president Beatrice Allen insists the organisation must "double down" on its efforts to make the two sports "more accessible than ever before" in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Allen, who is also chair of the WBSC’s Diversity and Inclusivity Commission, believes the COVID-19 pandemic has "highlighted the paramount importance of having fit and healthy society" and urged the baseball-softball community to target the "most marginalised groups in your societies" to play the game.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) member’s comments coincided with the World Health Organization’s World Health Day, which aims to build a fairer and healthier world.
"The WBSC’s Diversity and Inclusivity Commission is committed to ensuring that those who want to practice our sport are not denied the opportunity to do so based on their gender, race, physical ability, sexual orientation or economic background," said Allen.
"This is particularly important at a time when global health inequalities have unfortunately been worsened by COVID-19, which has pushed more people into food insecurity and strained their access to healthcare services.
"There is no lack of evidence on the role sport can play in boosting health and promoting active lifestyles.
"I want to echo IOC President Thomas Bach’s words that ‘sport and physical activity are the low-cost, high impact tool for healthy body, healthy minds and resilient communities’.
"That is why the WBSC and the global baseball-softball community must double down on its efforts to make our sport more accessible than ever before."
Allen believes the WBSC’s ability "to do good around the world" has been enhanced by the creation of baseball5 in 2017.
"The low-cost, high-speed and urban version of baseball has allowed us to take our sport and its values to new communities, which we were not able to reach through our traditional disciplines," said Allen.
Allen highlighted WBSC’s efforts to introduce baseball5 to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, the world's largest camp for Syrian refugees, in 2019 as well as the Friendship Games in Burundi in 2017 and 2018.
She also believes the growth of blind baseball and wheelchair softball is providing more opportunities for people to play the game.
"On World Health Day, I therefore urge the baseball-softball community to continue to seek out ways in which we can make our wonderful sport even more accessible for all," added Allen.
"I encourage you all to target the most marginalised groups in your societies, as they are the ones who will benefit the most from what our team sport has to offer: inclusivity, equality and team building."