CPBL not to form team for Olympic qualifiers

Taiwan’s professional baseball league (CPBL) yesterday said it will not form a national team to compete in the final baseball qualifiers to be held in Mexico for the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo due to a severe COVID-19 situation at home and abroad, while the Sports Administration and the national baseball association are to decide today whether to take over and form a national team.
The final qualifying round was originally scheduled to be held at the Taichung International Baseball Stadium on June 16.
Five national teams were to participate in the competition after China withdrew its team earlier this month — Taiwan, Australia, the Netherlands, and two teams securing the second and third places in the Americas qualifiers, which are to begin on Tuesday next week.
On Thursday last week, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) said in a statement that the final qualifiers would be held in Mexico, as the Central Epidemic Command Center has banned foreigners without residency from entering the nation until June 18 due to an increase in the number of local COVID-19 cases.
However, the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier was due to start on June 16, the confederation said.
Although the confederation has yet to announce further details for the final qualifiers, the CPBL, which is in charge of selecting and training players for the national team, has been discussing with professional baseball teams to determine if the national team should compete in the central American country, where more than 221,600 people have died from COVID-19 and about 2,000 new cases are reported daily.
“Following discussions between CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) and representatives from professional baseball teams, we have decided not to send the national team to compete in the WBSC Final Qualifier in Mexico after considering the health and safety of baseball players,” the league said in a statement, adding that it officially notified the international body of its decision yesterday.
The league also quoted a statement from Tsai, who said that “withdrawing from the final qualifiers is a very painful decision to make.”
“Baseball has a special meaning to the people of Taiwan, and it is every baseball player’s dream to compete in an international tournament for the nation. However, given the severity of the pandemic domestically and internationally, the league must ensure that players on the national team can safely and healthily compete in the final qualifiers, or we would cause an extra burden to the national healthcare system,” Tsai was quoted as saying.