By David Gold

Hugo Chavez_June_1June 1 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (pictured) jokingly raised the notion that he and United States President Barack Obama could lobby together to help baseball and softball win nomination to the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games.

In a televised speech, Chavez, who is suffering from cancer, said he was sorry that neither sport would be part of the London 2012 programme.

"Let's go Obama, together...alliances can be made," he said, adding that Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl Castro could join in their "fight for baseball and softball". 

Chavez's comments provoked laughter, but relations between Chavez and the US Government have been tense for years – with the Americans accusing Venezuela of human rights abuses and criticising Chavez for his close links with the hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Since Chavez came to power in 1998, he has attacked Washington and accused them of plotting against his country.

However, only one of the sports championed by Chavez – competing against climbing, karate, roller skating, squash, wakeboard and wushu – can win nomination to the 2020 programme.

Baseball and softball were taken off the programme after Beijing 2008, following a vote seven year's ago, which at the time made them the first sports to be removed from the Olympics in 69 years.

The decision regarding which sport will be nominated will be made next year by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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