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Cuban ballplayers defect during Surrey tournament

Cuban ballplayers defect during Surrey tournament
(Vancouver Sun)
Published: July 18, 2016

Two Cuban ballplayers disappeared Sunday from the site of the Women’s
World Softball Championship in what organizers have taken to be a bid to

The Cuban team arrived in Canada last week, before the 31-country
tournament started Friday, said tournament spokesperson Laura Ballance.
The team played games Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and the two
women didn’t show up for the Sunday game, Ballance said.

“We’ve been made aware that two of the Team Cuba players are not with
the team,” she said Monday, as the remaining Cuban players prepared for
a fourth game Monday night. The tournament wraps up July 24.

Tournament organizers notified Surrey RCMP about the missing players
Sunday, and RCMP passed the matter on to the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Cuban players all had six-month tourist visas allowing them to
attend the tournament, so the two women weren’t breaking Canadian law by
not showing up for their game at Softball City in south Surrey.

Tournament players were staying at area hotels and school dormitories.
Ballance wouldn’t say specifically where the Cuban players were housed,
nor would she release the missing women’s names, saying only that they
were adults. Cuban officials approached by Postmedia Sunday had no comment.

The communist government of Cuba, which recently liberalized relations
with the U.S., has a long history of using international athletics as a
means of promoting its political system, with elite athletes treated
well back home.

Despite that, the country also has a long history of its athletes
defecting, with Canada and the U.S. among popular destinations.

In the 1999 Pan-Am games in Winnipeg, 13 Cuban athletes defected. In
2012, three Cuban national soccer players defected before a World Cup
qualifier match against Canada in Toronto, crossing the border to the
U.S. the same day.

Source: Cuban ballplayers defect during Surrey tournament –

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