Washington forbids US softball official to travel to Cuba

The US Olympic Committee should find ways to protect itself from US government interference in sports issues, if not, it could affect its candidacy for future Olympic Games – Dan Porter

HAVANA (March 7. 2008) ACN – US chairman of the International Softball Federation Dan Porter can not travel to Cuba because Washington has denied him permission, based on the American policy blocking academic, cultural, sports and people-to-people exchange with the island.

Dan Porter was expected to take part in a ceremony to induct Cuban manager Armando Aguiar Gil into the Hall of Fame in Havana. He was supposed to give Aguiar the ring in recognition as the first sports official in the country elected to the Hall of Fame, reported Granma newspaper.

In an e-mail to Granma from his office in Plant City, Florida, Porter said that he was sorry for not being able to attend the ceremony because the US Treasury Department denied him a license to travel to Cuba. He noted that he had already received a visa from the Cuban government but never received written notification from Washington as why he was prohibited from visiting the island.

Before Harvey Schiller was elected president of the International Baseball Federation last weekend, Porter had been the only American chairman of an international sports federation. Coincidentally, both sports, softball and baseball, were excluded from the 2012 London Olympic programs.

“The US Olympic Committee should find ways to protect itself from US government interference in sports issues, if not, it could affect its candidacy for future Olympic Games,” Porter told Granma.

Porter said the ceremony recognizing the Cuban manager had been postponed indefinitely, and that he hoped to be in Cuba sometime this year for the ceremony, despite what had happened.

Under the clauses of the nearly half-a-century US blockade of Cuba, Porter, like any US citizen, must obtain a license from the government to travel to Cuba. He recalled that he had traveled to the island on previous occasions without problems.

Porter also mentioned the tough task ahead facing the International Softball Federation. “We are working very hard to return to the Olympics for the 2016 games. We have a special task force with participating members of the International Olympic Committee, of national Olympic committees, federations, the press, business initiatives and athletes.”

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