Team Australia withdraws from final qualifier
Boral Team Australia has withdrawn from this month’s WBSC Final Olympic Qualifier in Mexico due to “insurmountable” challenges.
Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams confirmed this morning Australia would not be sending a team to the June 22-26 event which had been originally scheduled in Taiwan from the 16th.
Williams – who himself won silver with Team Australia at the 2004 Olympics – said it was a gut-wrenching decision.
“Attending the Final Olympic Qualifier in a COVID world was always going to present significant challenges,” Williams said.
“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 said a number of factors had been taken into consideration when making the decision.
“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,” he 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.”
“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 didn’t 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.”
Williams acknowledged the effort and continued dedication shown by the athletes and staff throughout this challenging period.
“The athletes and staff have worked diligently in preparing for the event throughout the constantly changing landscape,” he said.
“As always, they’ve continued to commit to Team Australia and it’s really disappointing they won’t have the chance to chase a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.”
The qualifier was moved to Mexico on May 21 as Taiwan battled a surge in COVID-19 cases and enforced a range of new measures which would have kept foreign residents out of the country until after the event was set to start.
Puebla was only announced as the host city on May 29.
World number four Chinese Taipei pulled out of the event last week.
China had already withdrawn from the Final Qualifier before it was moved to Mexico.
(Top Photo of Team Australia during the 2013 WBC: AP)