Softball returns completed questionnaire to IOC

Lausanne, Switzerland; February 16th 2009:

The International Softball Federation (ISF) has reached another significant milestone in its campaign for reinstatement to the Olympic Summer Games with delivery today of the International Olympic Committee's 2016 Programme Review Questionnaire. An intense two month international project has been undertaken to collate the ISF's responses to 80 detailed questions, which will highlight the growing popularity of this youthful and dynamic sport. The ISF was able to provide positive responses to all questions across areas such as the rising popularity of softball, the sport's growing development, the strength of the organization, and its great traditions across the world. The ISF BackSoftball team has been working with many of its 127 national softball federations to gather this crucial information, utilizing its experts, technical advisors, & athletes, and its responses will play a vital role in convincing the IOC that softball merits its place once again on the Olympic Games programme. The Programme Review Questionnaire was sent out late last week and arrived in Lausanne today in compliance with the IOC deadline. The Olympic Programme Commission will meet on May 4-5 and the ISF will present to the IOC Executive Board in June. The questionnaire has given the BackSoftball team the opportunity to highlight the huge growth in popularity of the sport worldwide, with initiatives targeting women and youth, who are taking up softball in huge numbers. Simple to learn and inexpensive to play, softball is one of the few team sports to be promoted and supported by women in the Muslim world.
Softball is becoming increasingly popular in Europe, prompting the ISF to open an office in Lausanne recently and organize the Easton Foundation Youth Softball World Cup in Prague in August this year, featuring twelve nations from four continents. ISF President Don Porter said, We have sought the advice and collaboration of softball experts and athletes from around the world, who have all emphasized to us how popular our great sport has become across the globe. We are confident that our responses to the IOC questionnaire will position our sport favorably as we move into the final run of the bid process. These are crucial times for softball and we are convinced that we adhere closely to the values which reflect the Olympic movement.BackSoftball Athlete Ambassador and Olympian Saskia Kosterink of the Netherlands said, This has been a team effort with a number of my fellow Ambassadors and I working with the ISF to provide the athletes, point of view on the tremendous values softball promotes. The fact that the BackSoftball team has been so keen to get our input underlines how much they value the athletes, and that means a great deal.Fellow BackSoftball Athlete Ambassador and 2008 Olympic participant Rubilena Rojas (Venezuela) added, I have been overwhelmed by how much support the BackSoftball campaign has attracted in Venezuela. Everywhere I go, people talk to me about my role supporting the bid and I believe our responses underline how much the sport is growing and helping underprivileged women and children to have new opportunities through the sport.Softball was first featured in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and last year’s competition in Beijing, which was won by Japan, was hugely successful with a total attendance close to 180,000 and a continuation of the sport's excellent record of no positive drug tests in major competitions. A final decision on which sports will be added to the current roster of 26 at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be made at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October this year.