Cuban International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Reynaldo González López has died in Mexico City aged 66.
An IOC member for 20 years, González was a popular and much-respected figure in the top echelons of international sports administration, and had been playing a leading role in reshaping the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) in the wake of the death of that body’s long-term President, Mario Vázquez Raña, earlier this year.
González was also one of the chief architects behind the foundation in 2013 of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the ongoing campaign to return baseball and softball to the Olympic Games, possibly in Tokyo in five years’ time.
Cuba, whose former leader Fidel Castro is a noted baseball enthusiast, has won three of the five Olympic baseball gold medals, taking silver behind South Korea the last time the sport featured on the programme at the Beijing 2008 Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach on Sunday described González as “a very passionate and capable sports leader”.
He went on: “Sport in Central and South America and around the world, and me personally, owe him a lot.
“We will miss his great advice, but also his warm and always friendly personality and great sense of humour.”
Riccardo Fraccari, WBSC President, said it was “an extremely sad and shocking day”.
Not only was González a “lifelong friend of baseball, serving the administration and development of our sport for over 40 years, he was a personal friend of mine and trusted colleague, whom I was in contact with almost daily…
“WBSC will honour his memory and oeuvre by doing everything possible to realise his dream of returning our sport to the Olympic stage.”
González served as secretary general of the Cuban National Olympic Committee between 1984 and 2000 and as executive secretary of PASO since 2010.
He was 1st vice-president of the International Baseball Association from 1988 until 1999, President of the Cuban Amateur Baseball Federation between 1981 and 1999, and was elected to the WBSC Executive Board as the vice president of baseball in 2014.
With the Pan American Games in Toronto less than a week away, it seems reasonable to expect that González’s work and achievements will be marked in some way at this event.