Back Softball, the campaign to get softball reinstated on the Olympic programme in 2016, received a significant boost today with news that attendance at the softball games this August at the Summer Games in Beijing should be at or near capacity. The International Softball Federation, the world governing body for the sport, has learned that tickets for all four of the medal round games are sold out, and those for the 28 round robin games are 90% sold.
ISF President Don Porter, currently attending meetings of the Association of National Olympic Committees here, said, “Our Olympic competitions in the past have been very well attended, so we’re pleased to see that this will again be the case at the Games four months from now. China is a great softball nation and our sport has shown worldwide appeal, so between the Chinese as well as our fans from numerous other countries, our venue is on pace to be filled starting August 12.
“This is particularly rewarding for the world-class athletes that will compete in the softball competition. They’ve worked hard to get to where they are, and while they go to China knowing the eyes of the world will be upon them, it will be rewarding for them to be able to play in front of a packed stadium. The eight teams that qualified are extremely talented and this can only make for a more competitive and entertaining atmosphere.”
Mr. Porter’s comments about past Olympic attendance refer to the sport’s Olympic debut in 1996, the 2000 Games in Sydney, and four years ago in Athens. As is being forecast for Beijing, the Olympic Softball competition in Atlanta had sellout crowds and then four years later in Australia the attendance jumped more than 50%, placing softball on the list of top ten (out of 28 sports) in spectator turnout for those Games. Assuming that the opening game this August is at capacity, it will be a carryover from Athens, which closed with a gold medal game that was sold out as well.
Fans around the world still wishing to purchase tickets for softball games at the upcoming Olympics in Beijing are being encouraged to do so now while there is still availability for the round robin portion of the tournament. Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, the Netherlands, USA, and Venezuela are set to compete from August 12-21.