11th World Congress of Sports for All – Cuba advocates baseball’s return to Olympic program

HAVANA (JUNE 16, 2006) – CUBA is going to take advantage of a visit to the island by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge in October to advocate baseball’s return to the Olympic Games, affirmed José Ramón Fernández, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee.

Fernández explained that he plans to speak with Rogge, who has confirmed his presence at the World Congress of Sports for All, set for October 31 to November 3 in Havana.

“In every international event that I participate in I talk about baseball and how to return it to the Olympic program,” the Cuban official commented during a press conference announcing the World Congress.

Baseball and softball were eliminated from the Olympic program after an IOC vote last July in Singapore. Both will be included in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but not at the 2012 Games in London or afterward.

“This sport, which is a passion in Cuba and many other nations, was eliminated for its lack of quality, but during the World Classic, which included all the Major League players who wanted to be there, the teams that made it to the finals were the same as those in the Olympics. So does it or doesn’t it have quality?,” the likewise Cuban vice president asked.

During the World Classic in March, Cuba – Olympic and World champion – lost the final game to Japan, the Olympic bronze medalist.

FIRST CONGRESS IN CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN

For the IOC-sponsored World Congress of Sports for All, Cuba expects some 2,000 participants from about 100 countries, who will discuss the central theme “Physical activity: benefits and challenges.”

This is the first time that this Congress, also sponsored by the World Health Organization and the General Association of International Sports Federations, has been held in a Central American or Caribbean country. It takes place every two years, with the first edition in Frankfurt in 1986, and was most recently in Rome in 2004.

Fernández emphasized that it is a very important event for a country like Cuba, where government policy is aimed at increasing the practice of physical activity and participative sports among the population as a factor of health and quality of life.

Along with the central issue, other topic include risks and benefits of physical activity; sports programs for health for all; aging and modern society, and specific population groups: a challenge; satisfying the specific needs of developing countries in the area of sports for all; sports for all as recreation, a form of social experience and cultural expression; and designing strategies and guidelines for sports for all.

Fernández also commented that the Congress “should be a scientific/practical exercise with experiences and contributions to contribute to IOC objectives of empowering and spreading throughout the world in order to fulfill this aspiration of achieving concrete proposals on sports for all.”

The press conference also included Conrado Martínez Corona, president of the Cuban Conventions Bureau, and leaders of the Cuban Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Tourism and other agencies organizing the Congress.

Source: Granma International

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