The City of Surrey has been chosen by Softball Canada as the country’s choice to host an Olympic softball qualifying tournament next summer.
Softball Canada made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, highlighting the experience that the organizing committee – headed up by Canada Cup chair Greg Timm – has in hosting previous international tournaments.
“We are delighted to be partnering on this bid with the experienced and highly successful organizing committee in Surrey, who have staged 24 Canada Cups and the 2016 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championships,” Softball Canada president Kevin Quinn said in a news release.
“With the enthusiastic support of the City of Surrey, we are confident in the strength of this bid.”
Surrey will now compete for the 2019 Americas qualifier against entries from North, South and Central America. A final selection is expected by the World Baseball Softball Confederation next month. The top two teams at the ‘19 event will qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo – softball’s first appearance on the Olympic docket since 2008.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Timm told Peace Arch News Wednesday afternoon.
Surrey had been chosen earlier in the month, Timm added, but Softball Canada held off on making an announcement until world championships were completed in Japan last week. Canada finished third at worlds; had they won, and thus qualified for the Olympics that way, Softball Canada would have had no need to bid for next summer’s qualifier.
The United States won the world championships over Japan to earn the second of six Olympic softball berths. Japan, as the host country, received the first entry. Next year, two other qualifier tournaments – one in the Europe/Africa region and one in Asia – will be held to determine the final two Olympic participants. The Americas tournament will feature 16 teams, and gets two Olympic berths by virtue of having the most registered nations in the WBSC.
Timm announced that the Canada Cup organizing committee would bid for the qualifier during last month’s Canada Cup at Softball City. The deadline to submit a bid to the WBSC was Wednesday (Aug. 15), and Timm was not sure what other cities would be in the running.
He believes, however, that competing bids may come from Barranquilla, Colombia and Guadalajara, Mexico, and “possibly” from a city in the Dominican Republic.
“That’s what we think might happen. It’s like when we bid (for the world championships) in 2016 – people tell you things, and then they don’t bid… but if what we’ve heard is factual, we believe Columbia and Mexico are going to come in with quite lucrative bids.”
Stiff competition aside, Timm said the Surrey committee has put together a “solid, professional” bid for the tournament.
“We’ve done our very best. We’re Canadian, so (our tournament) is going to be safe, and we’re going to be honest (with the WBSC) – we will do what we say we are going to do, and we aren’t going to put things in writing that we won’t follow through on,” he said, adding that Surrey’s bid committee has to be fiscally responsible as a not-for-profit entity.
“We’re not going to go into deficit on this… bids from other zones, we don’t necessarily know. You don’t know where their money is coming from… there’s been a history that not all countries fulfil the execution (promises) that were in their bid upfront.”
The WBSC’s final selection will be no later than Sept. 15, Timm said he’s been told.
If Surrey is chosen, the tournament will be held Aug. 25-Sept. 1 next year at Softball City.