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Updated: June 9, 2021
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

Australia also withdraws from Olympic Qualifier

MELBOURNE, Victoria (Australia) - Australia has also withdrawn its team from the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, which opens on June 22 in Puebla (Mexico). The announcement of Australia's withdrawal was made on Wednesday (June 9) by Baseball Australia. The governing body stated that it has discussed and looked into several options, but in in the end it had to withdraw due to 'insurmountable challenges'. The decision came five days after Chinese Taipei did the same. Only three teams will now participate in the Olympic Qualifier in Mexico, being the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands and Venezuela. The schedule has not yet been announced. The winner of the event becomes the sixth and final team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Japan.

Last week, the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifer was played in Florida (USA) with the participation of eight teams. The event was won by the USA, which therefore qualified for the Olympic Games next month in Japan. The Dominican Republic and Venezuela finished in second and third place to advance to the Final Qualifier in Mexico. A day before the Americas Qualifier ended, it was announced that Chinese Taipei would not travel to Mexico. In a statement, the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association said: ,,The newly implemented pandemic prevention policies prohibits the gathering of teams for practices has made our preparations next to impossible. We can conclude that this pandemic has finally given us a fatal blow and ended our Olympic dream''.

The Final Qualifier initially was to be played in Taiwan, but was moved to Mexico on May 20, due to stronger COVID-19 countermeasures and restrictions in the island-country. On May 29, it was announced that the games were to be played in the city of Puebla.

Australia is the third country to withdraw from the Final Qualier. In early May, China already had withdrawn from the event when it still was to be played in Taiwan.

Glenn Williams, Chief Executive of Baseball Australia, said in a statement that is was a 'gut-wrenching decision'. Williams said: ,,Attending the Final Olympic Qualifier in a COVID world was always going to present significant challenges. The planning for Taiwan was extensive and with the late change in location and dates, those plans became obsolete. We worked through multiple options and scenarios but the logistical challenges of providing a safe environment for the group were insurmountable''.

Williams continued: ,,Athlete health and safety was always of paramount importance and there were simply too many unanswered questions presenting significant risks post the event and in transiting back to Australia. The complexity of moving such a large group, through two countries, with limited flight availability, presented a real risk of members of the group being stranded overseas and requiring medical treatment. Timing of entry back into Australia also presented difficulties in establishing a clear path to Tokyo for the team if they qualified. Even if Team Australia were successful in winning the event, the timing didnít allow for the team to complete quarantine in Australia and meet the requirements of entry to the Tokyo games. Coordinating a camp overseas at such short notice that meets the TOCOG playbook requirements was also not an option. The athletes and staff have worked diligently in preparing for the event throughout the constantly changing landscape. As always, theyíve continued to commit to Team Australia and itís really disappointing they wonít have the chance to chase a berth at the Tokyo Olympics''.

The softball-team of Australia qualified for the Olympic Games in 2019. Recently, the Australian softball-team was the first foreign Olympic sports-team that arrived in Japan. Also participating in the softball-tournament are host Japan, Canada, Italy, Mexico and the USA.

(June 9)

Related Articles:
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier opens in Florida; No-Hitter Canada. (May 31)
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier: First win Nicaragua; Cuba eliminated. (June 1)
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier: Teams set for Super Round. (June 2)
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier: Final game Opening Round rains out again. (June 3)
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier: USA, Dominicans open Super Round with big win. (June 4)
WBSC Americas Qualifier: USA to Olympics; Chinese Taipei withdraws. (June 5)

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