Softball OKs Baseball Merger; Peterkin Talks PASO; Hurricane Sandy Hits USOC

(ATR) International Softball Federation approves ongoing merger for joint Olympics bid ... IOC member from St. Lucia explains potential presidential platform ... Storm closes two USOC offices ... More inside this Olympic Newsdesk ...

Softball Approves Baseball Merger

President Don Porter tells Around the Ringsthe International Softball Federation approves a merger with the International Baseball Federation.

Tuesday’s ballot was the only item on the agenda for an extraordinary congress of the ISF convened in Houston.

A total of 44 national federations were in attendance (30 were required for a quorum), voting 71 percent in favor to 26 percent against.

"We applaud and congratulate our friends from ISF for their courage and determination in this decision, but also for putting the interests of their athletes and their sport before politics," IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari tells ATR.

"We are excited to move forward with our joint Olympic bid campaign, which today gains significant strength and momentum."

ISF’s approval paves the way for baseball and softball to bid together for Olympic reinstatement ahead of 2020. A decision is scheduled for September 2013 at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"I’m optimistic," Porter tells ATR. "I think it’s going to be something new. It’s bringing together two major sports, and there’s going to be a lot of positive things that we can do together to improve both our sports – of course, not only for the Olympics but also for the future of our sports."

Now the IBAF must receive the decision of its member federations – the ongoing postal vote is seen as a mere formality – before presentations to the IOC Program Commission on Dec. 19 and 20. Karate, roller sports, wakeboard, wushu, sport climbing and squash are the other six sports in the running for what will likely be one spot at the Summer Games.

"We’re looking forward to working with the IBAF. We want to get together and do what we can to set the stage to move ahead, especially with that presentation coming in December," says Porter.

"Of course, we’re looking forward to further contact with Major League Baseball and hopefully having their support also."

Athletes, Young Administrators at Heart of Potential PASO Presidency

Richard Peterkin says if he runs for president of the Pan-American Sports Organization in 2016, he will make increasing athlete participation and increasing the number of young administrators part of his platform.

Speaking to Around the Rings, Peterkin stressed that he still hasn't decided whether he will run but predicts those two elements would be part of his campaign.

"If we’re going to keep the Olympic Games relevant, we need athletes on our commission and younger people in our administration," said the IOC member from St. Lucia.

Peterkin did note that he is "not one of those young people" but said PASO is in a good position organizationally because of President Mario Vazquez Rana’s work.

"What makes it easy for anybody to replace Mario is he’s built such a great organization."

He also noted that PASO is "being a little bit upstaged" by some of the other continental organizations, including the Olympic Council of Asia. OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah recently replaced Vazquez Rana as head of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

One thing that isn’t clear is if Vazquez Rana will run again. Rumors are that if the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto are successful, he would view his legacy as being intact and retire. Vazquez Rana has not responded to Peterkin’s notification of forming his exploratory committee, or requests from Around the Rings for comment.

Peterkin also said he hopes his campaign does not split the region either geographically, culturally or linguistically. But he notes the divisions exist and must be bridged. And he notes, despite being an English-speaking Caribbean: "Soy panamericano" – Spanish for "I am pan-American".

Peterkin also put the race in perspective.

"If I don’t run or if I run and I lose, I will have the opportunity to say things about the role that PASO should play."

Peterkin said he would step down if he felt a more "capable" candidate were to run.

A decision, he said, should be made "sometime in the first quarter of next year." The PASO General Assembly meets in Jamaica in 2013.

USOC Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Themassive hurricane hitting almost the entire East Coast of the United States has not spared the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Patrick Sandusky, USOC spokesman, tells Around the Rings the organization had to close its government affairs office in Washington, D.C. and its marketing office in New York City due to Hurricane Sandy.

ATRalso understands USOC chief marketing office Lisa Baird’s house waspicturedin The Stamford Advocate as being flooded.

Hurricane Sandy has hit the northeast U.S. the harshest. Reports say 11 are dead as a result, with close to eight million people losing power. Torrential rain and fierce winds have brought flooding, while houses in New York City were also seen burning at the same time.

A testament to the storm’s ferocity, New York’s subway system has flooded in parts and the New York Stock Exchange was closed for the fourth consecutive day – the first time since 9/11.

Ban Ki-moon Backs Joint Korean Team for Gwangju

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the United Nations will back efforts to form a joint Korean team for the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju.

"United Nations will encourage and support formation of the first-ever united Korean teams in South Korea," he said Monday in Seoul at the 2012 KAIS-KF International Conference on Opening New Horizons for Public Diplomacy andCulture in the 21st Century, where he received the Seoul Peace Prize.

"The Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, is putting his utmost effort on the project," added Ban.

The native of Eumseong, South Korea also mentioned the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, expressing his wish to open the door for dialogue through these events and stressing the power of sport inrealizing the UN Millennium Development Goals.

"With the proactive support of the United Nations, the Gwangju Universiade’s longing goal of forming united Korean teams for world peace came closer to a reality than ever," Gwangju 2015 said in a statement.

Public Ranks Sports Cities in New Index

Voting is open for the inaugural Sports Cities Index, presented by Around the Rings and TSE Consulting.

The comprehensive biannual ranking is built around a group of 50 cities selected through criteria such as staging recent and upcoming Olympics or other major multi-sport Games, hosting professional sports teams as well as organizing major championships or world-class events such as tennis Grand Slams and Formula 1 races.

Though the initial batch is already set, it’s up to the public to help sort them out 1 through 50 based on their perceptions of the cities as having hosted major events, having quality facilities and being healthy and active places to live.

An online survey open through Nov. 11 asks respondents four brief questions on those themes and then gives them the opportunity to suggest other cities for inclusion in future editions.

A group of 100 "TSE Survey Experts" drawn from international federations, National Olympic Committees, sports media and other influencers will also respond to the survey.

Answers from these experts will be combined with those from the general public to produce the final Sports Cities Index, to be released Nov. 16 at the City Events Conference in Lausanne. ATR subscribers will receive results via email Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. ET.

Written by Ed Hula III,and Matthew Grayson

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