Strong softball showing in Cali boosts prospects for 2020 Olympics
Published: Aug 07, 2013
LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Sell-out crowds and exciting fan and broadcast experiences at the softball tournament of the Cali 2013 World Games have helped to highlight the case for the women's sport at the 2020 Olympic Games, according to World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) officials.
Softball matches were played before packed crowds in a 2,000-seat venue for the Cali World Games. Softball has been one of the most popular spectacles at the multi-sport World Games, which concluded Sunday. A total of 31 sports were contested across 25 venues in Cali, Colombia, with a total of 201 medal events on the program. The Bahamas did not participate in the event, but Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) officials are among those trying to get the sport reinstated to the Olympic program.
Crowds were treated to a series of high quality softball contests in venues filled with enthusiastic spectators for each game.
The games in Cali added to a recent string of international events, including the European Softball Championships and the U12 Baseball World Cup, that have attracted big crowds, regularly filling venues to capacity around the world, and have showcased the popularity of the bat-and-ball sports - especially women's and youth sport - to international audiences, sponsors, broadcasters, and key sporting bodies and event organizers, including International Olympic Committee (IOC) members and staff who attended the World Games.
The recent World Cup of Softball was broadcast into 140 countries by global broadcaster ESPN.
Signage and other forms of support for the WBSC’s Playball2020 campaign for softball and baseball to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games were also prominent throughout the World Games softball tournament with teams coming together to show their support for the Olympic Games in various ways.
"These events have helped highlight the power, potential of women's sport, and especially the unique skills and excitement of bat and ball sports like baseball and softball, which are currently not found on the Olympic Program," said WBSC co-president, Don Porter. "Events like the World Games provide important opportunities and platforms for women's sports to be showcased, in order to display the work ethic, excitement and extraordinary skills involved in the sports that women like to play like softball.
“We are hoping the IOC will find a place for baseball and softball at the Olympic Games in 2020, and in doing so, send a message to girls and young women everywhere that the Olympic Games and the values of the movement are for them, and give more girls the opportunity to strive for a place in the Olympics, the pinnacle for every young athlete," Porter added.
The Venezuelan National Softball Team provided two of the most memorable achievements and moments of the games - a perfect game by Maria Gomez and a no-hitter by Alondra Pérez. Cuba overtook Venezuela with a 3-2 victory to claim gold. This marked the fourth time softball has been present on the World Games program after making its first appearance at the World Games debut in 1981 in Santa Clara, California (USA).
The softball teams and spectators were also treated to a new stadium as a lasting legacy from the World Games, highlighting the growing globalization of softball and baseball in South America and other key world regions including China, India and Europe. Softball is popular in Colombia, with the country participating in both adult and junior softball and baseball world championships, however, there was not a dedicated softball facility in the city of Cali prior to the World Games.
The World Games is the main international multi-sport event for sports or disciplines that are not contested at the Olympics.