POSTED: Wednesday February 18th 2009

BackSoftball campaign reaches White House

Task Force Co-Chair Donna de Varona met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Plant City, Florida (USA); February 18th 2009: BackSoftball took its campaign for Olympic reinstatement right to the top when Task Force Co-Chair Donna de Varona met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the 9th edition of the Special Olympics World Winter Games last week.

Ms. de Varona, who is also an original board member of Special Olympics International, met Vice President Biden as they returned together on Air Force Two to Washington D.C. from the Special Olympics World Winter Games, which took place last week in Boise, Idaho.

Ms. de Varona used the opportunity to discuss softball’s increasing popularity around the world and the sport’s excellent anti-doping record at the elite level, with no positive tests in the almost 30 years since testing began.  This was of particular interest to Vice President Biden, who initiated the first Senate hearings in the mid-1980s on the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in sport.

During his discussions with Ms. de Varona, Mr. Biden also recalled the progress that has been made for women in education and in sport since 1972, when the U.S. Federal government passed Title IX of the Equal Education Amendments Act, which outlawed discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

A staunch advocate for Title IX legislation, Vice President Biden marveled at how this law has impacted the participation of women in sport, especially in the Olympics and in team sports such as softball, which is extremely popular among women, particularly in developing countries and Islamic states where female team sports participation is rare.

Ms. de Varona said, “The invitation to join Vice President Biden on the return trip to the Nation’s Capitol gave us the opportunity to discuss his long-standing legislative record in support of the promotion and protection of opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport.  We also discussed the value of sport to build bridges between nations as well as his commitment to expanding opportunities in sport for all.”

The mission of the Special Olympics is to provide year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities in order to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

International Softball Federation President Don Porter commented, “I’m delighted that our Task Force co-chair has been able to talk about the BackSoftball campaign with Vice President Biden.  Softball is again on the programme for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in 2011.  It is our hope that the progress we have made since softball was first included in the Olympic programme in 1996 will convince the IOC that the sport should return to the 2016 Olympic Games.”

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.

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Keywords · ISF · Donna de Varona · Joe Biden · Special Olympics

Name: Bruce Wawrzyniak
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