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Softball Loses War on Olympic Reinstatement

Softball is out of the 2012 Olympics, and it appears there’s no chance of reinstatement. 

The International Olympic Committee, meeting today in Turin, Italy, rejected pleas from both softball and baseball to be admitted to the London Olympic Games program. Both sports failed to get a required majority for putting the proposal to a vote. IOC members voted against considering softball 47-43 and against considering baseball 46-42. 

ASA Executive Director Ron Radigonda sent a memorandum to ASA Council members at 5:06 a.m. CST reporting the news. ASA Director of Communications Brian McCall called Radigonda from Italy, where McCall is working for the Winter Olympics. 

Radigonda reported: “I understand that softball had numerous speakers make presentations on the Assembly floor in favor of softball being reinstated. Those against us campaigned not on the merits, or lack of merits of our sport, but on the fact that the IOC just voted six months ago on this issue and that it should not be revisited and that it would make the IOC look bad for changing their mind in such a short period of time. It appears that strategy won out today.” 

Softball and baseball were eliminated from the Olympic program in July at the IOC meeting in Singapore, but remain on the 2008 Beijing Games program. 

Support of at least 51 percent of the International Olympic Committee members was required before reinstatement could go to a secret ballot. After that, each sport would have needed majority backing in a second vote. 

According to IOC President Jacques Rogge, this was the last chance for the sports to be readmitted in time for the London Games. They will be eligible to reapply later for the 2016 games. 

Associated Press reported that Rogge said, "We will work closely with the two federations. We will work with them at the Olympic Games at Beijing and see if there's a chance to come back in the program. I understand the disappointment of those who pleaded for the reinstatement .." 

Anita DeFrantz, one of the U.S. delegates to the IOC, supported softball and started off the discussion. "It is a women's sport," she said. "It is a separate sport and should be considered separately from the merits of baseball. This sport has its own policies, provides an opportunity for women and finally deserves to be on our program." 

Members from Cuba, Australia, Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, Canada, South Africa and Taiwan spoke in favor of both sports. Australia’s Kevan Gosper said the IOC should have the courage to reconsider the situation. 

Jim Easton, another U.S. delegate to the IOC and president of Easton Sports, had recused himself from the previous vote in Singapore because of his interests in the sports. However, for today’s vote, he received clearance from the IOC ethics commission and executive board to take part.