Historic Cuba-USA baseball series in USA highlights power of sport to unite like the Olympic Games
Landmark Series Helps Strengthen Case for Baseball/Softball to Go to 2020 Olympic Games
HAVANA (CUBA) - The successful conclusion of the Cuba-USA baseball friendship series has demonstrated the capacity of the sport to bring diverse countries and cultures closer together, with series officials hopeful the event would strengthen the case for baseball and softball to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games.
The history-making series saw the Cuban National Team making its first trip to the U.S. in over 17 years, competing against the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
Commenting on the success of the series from Havana today, Antonio Castro, a leading official with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), said the spirit of the series reflected the values, ideals and internationalism of the Olympic Movement as identified by founding father Pierre de Coubertin.
"This friendship series was a celebration of the cultural diversity, of goodwill, respect and all that is excellent in sport, which we absolutely find in the spirit of the Olympic Games," Castro, son of the legendary Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, said.
"During the series, the athletes spoke the same language through baseball; they respected the same rules; they respected and admired each other. No interpretations were necessary. The Olympic platform does this on a worldwide scale; sport has that power," Castro added.
Castro, a surgeon and doctor for the Cuban National Olympic Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games last year, said the success of the series, which concluded earlier this week, had inspired him and his WBSC colleagues to redouble their efforts to earn the honour of participating at the 2020 Games.
"The Olympic Games is the greatest global celebration of humanity and sport, and the key to inspiring more young people everywhere to become involved in sport and advance the movement," Castro said.
Paul Seiler, USA Baseball CEO and WBSC Executive Board member, fully agrees with his Cuban colleague and friend.
"We have seen baseball and softball captivate entire nations, and we feel our sport could serve to strengthen the Olympic Games because like the Olympic Movement, baseball and softball can unite citizens across all the borders and boundaries that divide us, as we have seen with this historic Cuba-USA baseball friendly series," Seiler said.
WBSC leaders stress that the expanding presence of baseball and softball in China, Africa, India, South America and other world regions, including rising Europe, would bring the Olympic values and ideals to a new generation of young people around the world if baseball and softball are included at the 2020 Olympic Games.
The WBSC has a vision to work with the Olympic Movement to give every boy and girl the chance to play ball and experience the joy and benefits of sport through baseball and softball.
"Baseball and softball are games that anyone, anywhere can play, regardless of their age, gender, social standing, disability, cultural or political position. It's a worldwide game already played in more than 140 nations," Castro said.
The IOC will decide in early September which sport will be added to the 2020 Olympic Games.
(Note: USA won all five games against Cuba 2-1 (11 inn.). 3-2 (10 Inn.), 1-0, 3-2 and 5-3 in various US cities from July 18 to July 23)
(From IBAF Website)