Fidel Castro's son elected to world baseball body

Antonio "Tony" Castro, 39, is one of Fidel Castro's better-known sons due to his role as team doctor for the national baseball squad in the communist-run island, where the game is a sporting obsession.

The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) said Antonio Castro was elected as one of its vice presidents at a weekend meeting in Switzerland.

"His presence in the IBAF could be a big influence on baseball's future return to the Olympic Games," a source at Cuba's INDER sports institute said on Monday, asking not be named.

Baseball, known among Cubans as "pelota," the Spanish word for ball, is a source of national pride in Cuba and the country's successes on the field have been used as a promotional tool for its one-party socialist system.

The sport was brought to the Caribbean nation from the United States in the 1860s and many Cubans follow the U.S. game despite five decades of bitter relations between Cuba and Washington.

After nearly five decades as Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, 83, himself a baseball fan, handed over the presidency of the country to his brother Raul last year due to poor health and has not been seen in public since July 2006.

The International Olympic Committee decided earlier this year that baseball's next chance to be part of the Olympics would be in 2020. Baseball was cut from the Olympic program for the 2012 games in London and also won't appear in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Eric Beech)