On August 9, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., 16 Japanese youth baseball and softball players, and four coaches participating in the U.S. Department of State’s first international sports exchange with Japan. During the meeting, Secretary Clinton reiterated U.S. support for Japan as the country recovers and rebuilds following the March 2011 natural disasters. The Secretary also highlighted the role of sports to empower young people worldwide and how international sports exchange programs provide an opportunity for participating youth and the Americans they meet to share and learn how sports can play an important role in overcoming adversity.
Secretary Clinton and Cal Ripken, Jr. discussed his upcoming trip to Japan as a Public Diplomacy Envoy and the strong relationship between the people of the United States and Japan.
“I am excited and honored to continue my work as a Public Diplomacy Envoy for the State Department,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., who has served as a Public Diplomacy Envoy since 2007. “I have very much enjoyed the people to people exchanges with China and Nicaragua and I am looking forward to my visit to Japan.
“I have visited Japan in the past and it is a wonderful nation that loves baseball,” Ripken continued. “They have endured so much in the last year and I look forward to spending some time with their young ballplayers both here and in Japan.”
Partnering with the Cal Ripken World Series, the Little League World Series and Ripken Baseball, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office is conducting an international exchange August 8-23 with 16 Japanese youth, ages 14-17 that play baseball and softball. These young people will participate in clinics and teambuilding exercises with their American counterparts. Cal Ripken, Jr. will also meet with the Japanese delegation and lead a clinic with them on August 17 during the annual Cal Ripken World Series at the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy in Aberdeen, Maryland. In addition, they are slated to attend the 65th Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. While in Williamsport, the Japanese youth will participate in the Opening Day parade and throw out the first pitch for Japan’s game on August 18.
In November, Cal Ripken, Jr. will travel to Japan to meet with youth from the affected prefectures in Japan, including Tokyo. As a Public Diplomacy Envoy, Ripken will lead baseball and softball clinics as well as teambuilding exercises. More information regarding Ripken’s travel to Japan will be forthcoming. This will be Ripken’s third trip as a Public Diplomacy Envoy. In 2007 he traveled to China and in 2008 he visited Nicaragua.
Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary Clinton’s vision of “smart power” diplomacy. It embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, including sports, to bring people together for greater understanding.
Sports Visitors are youth and coaches who travel to the United States for an exchange. Sports Visitor programs give young people an opportunity to discover how success in athletics can be translated into the development of life skills and achievement in the classroom. Public diplomacy envoys travel overseas to conduct drills and team building activities, as well as engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices and respect for diversity. Click here to learn more about sports diplomacy.
Photos of Secretary Clinton, Cal Ripken, Jr., and the Japanese baseball and softball players may be found here and here. For more information, please contact Talley Sergent, U.S. Department of State, at SergentRT@state.gov.