27/02/2024

Team Australia has pulled out of a Tokyo 2020 qualifier. (Photo: SMP Images)

Australia's national baseball team won't be heading to the final Olympic qualifier ending their journey to Tokyo 2020.

Team Australia will not feature in the baseball tournament at this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, announcing its withdrawal from the final qualifying event.

Australia’s national baseball team was set to compete in Mexico later this month in the WBSC Final Olympic Qualifier however Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams confirmed the decision.

“Attending the Final Olympic Qualifier in a COVID world was always going to present significant challenges”, Williams said.

In the end, multiple factors played into the verdict not to send a team, mostly around logistics, with a late change in dates and venue forcing the venture to not be viable for them. The Final Olympic Qualifier was originally scheduled to be played in Taiwan a week earlier.

“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.”

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The timing of the Final Olympic Qualifier to the Olympic Games also played into the mind’s of those involved. Williams referenced the challenge of sending and moving a large group of athletes and staff was too great a risk.

“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,” Williams said.

“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.”

Williams said even if the World No. 6 ranked nation had qualified for Tokyo 2020, there were timing issues that didn’t allow the Australian team to compete the due processes needed in a COVID world. Especially in moving between different countries, the athletes and staff would’ve also needed to coordinate a camp that was set up and run through some tough directives.

“Even if Team Australia were successful in winning the event, the timing didn’t allow for the team to complete quarantine in Australia and meet the requirements of entry to the Tokyo games.”

Australia is the third nation to pull out of the Final Olympic Qualifier after Chinese Taipai and China. Currently, it leaves the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the Netherlands as the only teams competing at the event.

Baseball makes its return to the Olympic schedule after a 13-year hiatus. Japan, Israel, Mexico, South Korea and the United States have all qualified already for the six-team Olympics.

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