By Duncan Mackay

Hugh Chavez with softball mitMarch 6 - Tributes have been paid by the softball community to Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, who has died of cancer. 

Chávez died aged 58 after suffering from cancer for nearly two years.

The Venezuelan team, competing at the 13th International Softball Federation (ISF) men's World Championships in Auckland, held a minute's silence while organisers of the tournament lowered their flag to half-mast.

Chávez had publicly backed softball and baseball's campaign to regain their places on the Olympic programme following their controversial axing following Beijing 2008.

Last year he had even joked during a television address that him and United States President Barack Obama should lobby the International Olympic Committee together to help the campaign, even though Chávez regularly accused America of plotting against him. 

"During our discussions, Mr. Chávez asked how he could offer assistance to get baseball and softball back on the Olympic programme," said Don Porter, President of ISF, who held several discussions with Chávez. 

"He offered to make contact with other world leaders and heads of states for support.

"He offered to partner with US President Obama for a joint support of softball and baseball's Olympic campaign."

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