Beng Choo Low, left, the secretary general of the WBSC, and Riccardo Fraccari, centre, the WBSC President, signed the deal with Alibaba Cloud’s William Xiong, right ©WBSC

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has named Alibaba Cloud as its sustainability partner for baseball5.

Both parties will work together to make WBSC events more eco-friendly, starting with the Youth Baseball5 World Cup which began in Ankara in Turkey yesterday.

Tailor-made sustainable products, services and solutions will be developed with the deal part of the WBSC's sustainability targets.

In Ankara, the carbon footprint of the event will be calculated, taking into account factors including venue operation, temporary structure materials, accommodation, catering, flights, commuting and the transportation of sport materials and equipment. 

"The WBSC, as the international governing body for baseball and softball, is proud to be able to continue to evolve our events and organisation to adapt towards a better and more sustainable future," said Marco Ienna, the WBSC chief operating officer. 

"We are proud to partner with such an innovative and dynamic company such as Alibaba Cloud to help us achieve our objectives in the area of sustainability to ensure our forever increasing global fanbase will continue to enjoy our beautiful game all around the world."

Alibaba Cloud is the digital technology and intelligence arm of Alibaba Group, the giant Chinese company which is a worldwide sponsor of the International Olympic Committee.

Its AI-driven sustainability solution, Energy Expert, will provide "valuable data for enhancing the operations of WBSC events", it is hoped.

Energy Expert has already been used at events such as the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.

"We are thrilled to collaborate with the WBSC, applying our cloud-based, AI-driven sustainability solutions to their sports events," said Selina Yuan, President of international business at the Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Group. 

"As sustainability becomes increasingly critical in the global sports industry, we are committed to offering sports organisations like the WBSC timely data, actionable insights and optimisation recommendations. 

"Together, we can generate significant and positive impacts on the global sports community and foster a more sustainable future for sports." 

The WBSC had a boost this week after baseball and softball were recommended to return to the Olympic programme at Los Angeles 2028.

Both sports were dropped following Beijing 2008 before returning at Tokyo 2020, only to again be left out of the Paris 2024 schedule.

Baseball5 takes baseball and softball to previously inaccessible areas as only a rubber ball is needed to play.

No pitcher or bats are needed as hitting is done by hand, with five players per team and five innings per game.

The discipline is due to debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in Senegal in 2026.