Australia forced to ditch Olympic baseball dream as qualifier moved

Australia forced to ditch Olympic baseball dream as qualifier moved

Australia had made extensive preparations to play in Taiwan
Australia had made extensive preparations to play in Taiwan. (File photo: AFP/Charly Triballeau)

SYDNEY: Baseball Australia made the "gut-wrenching" decision on Wednesday (Jun 9) to pull out of this month's Olympic qualifier in Mexico, citing "insurmountable" challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The qualifying tournament from Jun 22 to Jun 26 was shifted to Mexico from Taiwan last month after a sudden surge of coronavirus cases.

But the late change caused Baseball Australia so many problems that they have been forced to give up on their Olympic dream.

"Attending the final Olympic qualifier in a COVID world was always going to present significant challenges," Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams said in a statement.

"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, who won silver with Team Australia at the 2004 Olympics, cited health worries, quarantine requirements and difficulties with flight availability as among the key problems.

Taiwan and China had already withdrawn from the qualifier, Baseball Australia said, leaving just Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands in contention.

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Source: AFP/kg

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