International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter said that interest is very high in the upcoming XI Women’s World Championship, despite what could have been perceived as otherwise as a result of the lack of support by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Members last month to keep women’s softball on the programme of the 2012 Games in London.
“The popularity of our sport is right up there with many of the others that, like softball, have been successful on the world’s stage,” the ISF President said. “Of course, this was all detailed in the IOC’s own Evaluation Report that they were quick to point to when pressed on trying to provide a reason why softball was taken off the 2012 programme.
“For the Women’s World Championship alone, not only do we have our 16 teams, but there’s even a waiting list of other countries that have expressed interest in having their team compete if a spot opened up. We also are confident that television will be involved in this event. Softball is a great sport being played competitively all around the world, even if the IOC failed to acknowledge that with regards to the 2012 programme vote.”
Mr. Porter added that, “Certainly the spectator support is sure to be great as well. Softball is very big in China and the people there turn out in great numbers for events like a world championship.”
The ISF XI Women’s World Championship, to be held in Beijing from August 27 – September 5, is not only one of the qualifiers for the 2008 Olympic softball competition that will be held in the same new stadium that will open this summer, but is an Olympic test event as well.
“We’re going to do great in Beijing,” the ISF President said, “both this summer and in 2008.”
Mr. Porter indicated that since last month’s IOC Session in Torino when a vote on whether or not to reconsider softball’s 2012 Olympic status went (47-43) against taking such action, he has still received communications from various sporting officials, including IOC Members, who have indicated that the sport deserved to be in the Games in London. Furthermore, the venue that would’ve been built for the 2012 competition is still being considered despite last July’s 52-52 vote being upheld by last month’s result.
Question & Answer With Don Porter
Question: In light of last month’s IOC Session, where the support went 47-43 against a re-vote on Olympic Softball, is the door closed now for 2012?
Don Porter: According to the IOC, it is. But we’re not going to just go away.
Q: Is there any one thing that’s particularly bothersome about the IOC not retaining softball as an Olympic sport for the 2012 Games?
DP: There are a lot of things, but one facet that’s troublesome is that Olympic softball is a women’s sport and it got dropped, even though the IOC advocates greater women’s participation in the Olympic movement.
Q: In the statement issued by the ISF last month you mentioned young female athletes effectively having their Olympic dreams fade away. What hope can you give them?
DP: Our commitment to the continuance of international events that will give high-level competition opportunities to them. For instance, next year will be our Jr. Women’s World Championship, which is for the 19-and-under category. This July the II World University Softball Championship is going to be played, which is something we created in 2004 and want to continue.
Q: Are those two events and the Women’s World Championship the major softball events for the foreseeable future?
DP: Absolutely not! Those are just a few of what are many upcoming major international events that softball will be showcased by. There are two big ISF-sanctioned events that will both take place in July – the Canada Cup, which had eight countries playing in last year’s tournament, and the World Cup of Softball, which will have six countries competing. There are also multisport games with softball in them this year, right through to December at the Asian Games in Doha. Then next year we’ve got the All-Africa Games, the Pan American Games, the World University Games… there will be a lot of international softball events.
Q: And you’re optimistic about the Women’s World Championship this year?
DP: Look, we know a lot of eyes will be on us now to see who was right…the IOC by their vote, or us by the information we were trying to educate them with, but we’re confident that our events – most notably our Women’s World Championship – will show that softball is the epitome of what an Olympic sport should be.
Q: And what exactly does that profile look like?
DP: Softball is a model sport…no corruption or scandals, never had a positive doping case in women’s international play since testing began in 1982, high-level officiating by our umpires, which are male and female, by the way, … a number of attributes reflected in the IOC’s own Evaluation Report, and more. We also have great cultural qualities that the IOC should be proud to have in its Games and that athletes around the world should continue to aspire to be a part of.