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Former IOC President Samaranch to Serve as ISF Strategic Task Force Honorary Chairperson

Former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President. Juan Antonio Samaranch has agreed to serve as the Honorary Chairperson of the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) Strategic Task Force to get fastpitch softball back on the Olympic programme, ISF President Don Porter announced today. 

Samaranch was the IOC’s seventh President, from 1980-2001. During that time, softball was announced (in 1991) as a new Olympic sport and debuted at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. 

Recently the ISF announced the formation of the Strategic Task Force, whose aim will be to regain Olympic status for the sport in 2009, when the IOC votes during its Session in Denmark on the programme for the 2016 Summer Games. In July 2005, softball, which will be played at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was removed from the programme for the 2012 Games. Despite its universality and other positive attributes, softball fell one vote short during a sport-by-sport vote last year to continue in the Olympics to be held in London. 

“Obviously we continue to feel very strongly that softball should still be an Olympic sport beyond the 2008 Games,” Porter said. “The Task Force is going to be made up of people that will be able to help us convince the IOC of that, and having their former president as Honorary Chairperson can only bolster the efforts of the group.” 

Today’s announcement is the first name associated with the Task Force to be made public since the evolution of the group during the ISF Executive Council meeting that was held in Beijing during the XI Women’s World Championship. Mr. Porter indicated today that he is finalizing the make-up of the group and that an announcement on the members of the Strategic Task Force will come next month. 

Samaranch was among the first three people to receive the ISF Medal of Honor (1990), which has only been bestowed on six people since. In July, 2001, he was elected Honorary (IOC) President for Life. 

The ISF is the world governing body of the sport as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). Softball (women's fast pitch) made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. There are 130 affiliated countries in the ISF and millions of participants in the sport worldwide.