The British softball community has joined the worldwide campaign to have softball reinstated as an Olympic sport for the 2012 Games in London, a cause given new hope by IOC President Jacques Rogge’s public announcement that the IOC may re-evaluate its original decision to remove softball.
The British Softball Federation and BaseballSoftballUK, the sport’s governing body and managing agency, have been encouraging British players and supporters to sign an official petition on a European-wide website that will be presented to British IOC members in October, along with letters from members of the Great Britain senior and junior national teams and the Grass Roots Girls’ Fastpitch Development Programme.
T-shirts promoting the cause have also begun appearing at major softball events in this country, worn by members of the softball community and bearing the slogan “Let The Women Play!”
Similar activities are being carried out in other European countries, whose IOC members will also be made aware of a growing feeling that an injustice was committed when the sole women-only team sport in the Olympics was excluded on July 8 in Singapore on the basis of a tied vote, when 50 percent +1 was needed for retention.
The vote came as a shock, not only to the world softball community but also to many IOC members, who had not anticipated any changes to the Olympic programme. The decision was a particularly savage blow to the Great Britain Women’s Fastpitch Softball Team, whose recent progress up the European rankings would probably have been rewarded with a host country place in London 2012, garnering increased resources and recognition for the sport.
In the fallout from the July 8 decision – and while other British Olympic sports were still celebrating London’s successful bid to host the Games – BaseballSoftballUK had begun planning an appeal, along with other softball nations, under the guidance of the International and European Softball Federations.
Separating itself from baseball, which was also ejected from the Olympics, softball is pitching its appeal on the basis of the tied vote and the idea that an official aim of the IOC is to promote opportunities for women in sport, not curtail them. Additionally, the Olympic softball event truly was an opportunity for the best softball players in the world to compete in a grand setting - an aspiration which has now been taken away from future players.
The campaign received a boost on September 10 when IOC President Jacques Rogge announced publicly that the IOC may re-evaluate its decision, a move which would need to be requested by individual IOC members.
What can you do to support the campaign?
- Sign the European Softball Federation's petition which will be presented to the IOC. Click here to go to the ESF petition website.
- Buy a Let The Women Play! T-shirt - selling at events and soon to be available over the BSUK website.
What else is going on in Europe and the World?
The International Softball Federation (ISF) has held meetings in many countries, culminating in a major strategy conference in Los Angeles at the beginning of August, attended by Britain’s Mike Jennings in his role as ESF President and an ISF Vice-President for Europe. The outcome was the announcement of a campaign in which people in every member country are being urged to send messages supporting reinstatement to the ISF, to be passed on to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The ISF is hoping that the question of reinstating Softball can be brought back to the table as early as February 2006, when IOC members will meet during the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
On October 4, ISF President Don Porter and a number of leading Softball athletes from Europe will meet with IOC President Jacques Rogge to serve notice that softball will, as the ISF campaign is titled, “Never Give Up” until the sport is reinstated in the Games.