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 on August 9, 2011. 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.
Secretary Clinton said, "We are so delighted to welcome the ambassador and also Cal Ripken, Jr., here today as we celebrate the wonderful program, the Japanese sports visitor program, that's been going on for a long time. But it's particularly meaningful to us now as we reach out to the Japanese people and show our support for them. And as I was saying to the young people and to the ambassador and to Cal, we love Japan for many reasons, but one of them is because they love baseball. So this is an extra special treat for us.""And we're very proud that Cal Ripken, Jr., who's such an icon of the sport all over the world, is one of our public diplomacy envoys."
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 team-building 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 team-building 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.
You can read Secretary Clinton's complete remarks with Cal Ripken, Jr., here, and you can find out more about Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., and Japanese Youth Lead Initial International Sports Exchange with Japan here.