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Softball hoping for new Olympic chance

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olympic ringsHaarlem (the Netherlands) :  With the end of the World Championship Softball meet here, the focus of the softball world is now on bringing the sport back on the Olympic agenda.

Baseball and softball were taken out of the Olympics after the 2008 Games and in September last year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to reinstate the sports to the 2020 Summer Olympics, reports Xinhua.

Wrestling won the vote to return to the Games before baseball/softball and squash.

Also in September last year, the 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo, Japan and that prompted calls for baseball and softball to be included again. The two sports are very popular in Japan and there are many existing facilities in the Tokyo area that could be used for the event.

However, the Olympic Charter states that a sport’s inclusion in the programme must be decided not later than the session electing the host city (seven years in advance).

Hope is still alive for the softball and baseball world as an ‘Extraordinary Session’ of the IOC will be held in Monaco Dec 6 and 7 this year to discuss potentially radical changes proposed by new President Thomas Bach.

“Nobody knows the agenda unfortunately, but we will continue to campaign,” Low Beng Choo, secretary-general of the International Softball Federation (ISF) and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), told Xinhua following the conclusion of the World Championship Softball meet here Sunday.

“But we understand Bach is looking for some changes and that’s why we keep showcasing our sports.”

“We will continue to work, because we think softball and baseball add value to the Olympics,” Low added.

“We have combined two great sports with the best of both men and women. Both the men and women section are very strong. Our joint federation WBSC (formed in 2013) is good for us combining both sports and developing both sports.”

“In addition, it’s the only bat and ball game at the Olympics, which makes the sports unique,” the secretary-general continued. Also we are developing the sports in many areas. Not just for the Olympics, but also in the Muslim world, in Africa.”

The World Championship in Haarlem was won by Japan, with the United States and Australia capturing silver and bronze, respectively. Low Beng Choo thinks the event, in which 16 teams competed, was a good showcase for the IOC.

“This was a premium event, with teams from three different continents in the top three,” Low said. “That shows we have a worldwide reach, not only concentrated to one continent. We know people in Japan are crazy about baseball and softball, so our hopes are high.”

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