August 2 - Softball officials claim that the success of the sport at the World Games in Cali has given its campaign to become part of the 2020 Olympic programme a massive boost.
Baseball-softball is up against squash and wrestling for inclusion in 2020 and the popularity of softball - making its fourth appearance at the World Games in Cali - will have helped its chances as the stadium used in the Colombian city will provide a lasting legacy for softball and women's sport in the country, it is claimed.
Cuba emerged victorious in the gold medal match as they overcame Venezuela 3-2 at the Softball Diamond,which hosted all 20 matches during the six-team tournament that saw teams from Argentina, Aruba, hosts Colombia and Guatemala also taking part.
With teams competing in adult and junior World Championship events softball is popular in Colombia and the 2,000 capacity arena in Cali will provide a permanent home for the sport following the hosting of the World Games, the main international multi-sport event for sports or disciplines not contested at the Olympics.
Signage and other forms of support for the World Baseball Softball Confederation's (WBSC) Playball2020 campaign for Olympic inclusion were prominent throughout the tournament.
Coupled with the recent World Cup of Softball, which was held in Oklahoma city, reported to have been broadcast to 140 countries, the WBSC is hoping that the sport's popularity will sway the decision of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members when they decide which sport has made it in for 2020, at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on September 8.
Last month, the WBSC claimed its Youth World Championships in Chinese Taipei, which saw fourteen teams compete in an under-12 unisex tournament, was the "largest youth championships in world sport."
"These events have helped highlight the power, potential of women's sport, and especially the unique skills and excitement of bat and ball sports like baseball and softball, which are currently not found on the Olympic programme," said WBSC co-President, Don Porter.
"Events like the World Games provide important opportunities and platforms for women's sports to be showcased, in order to display the work ethic, excitement and extraordinary skills involved in the sports that women like to play like softball.
"We are hoping the IOC will find a place for baseball and softball at the Olympic Games in 2020, and in doing so, send a message to girls and young women everywhere that the Olympic Games and the values of the Movement are for them, and give more girls the opportunity to strive for a place in the Olympics, the pinnacle for every young athlete."
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