Olympic Games | The Guardian
Australia’s baseball players have given up trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics over coronavirus complications. The Australians, who are in sixth place worldwide, have withdrawn from their last qualifying tournament for the Games because of insurmountable travel and quarantine logistics.
Baseball Australia CEO Glenn Williams says the “heartbreaking” decision to retire is making Olympic qualification impossible. The last qualifying tournament from June 22nd to 26th was originally supposed to be held in Taiwan, but was relocated to Mexico on May 21st and the city of Puebla was named the host on May 29th.
“Participating in the last Olympic qualification in a Covid world was always associated with great challenges,” said Williams. “The planning for Taiwan was extensive and the late change in location and date made these plans obsolete. We worked through several options and scenarios, but the logistical challenges of creating a safe environment for the group were insurmountable. “
Williams said even if Australia entered and won the qualifying event, subsequent quarantine requirements made it impossible to attend the Tokyo Games from July 23.
“The health and safety of athletes has always been of paramount importance,” he said. “And there were just too many unanswered questions that posed significant risks after the event and on the return trip to Australia.
“The complexity of moving such a large group across two countries with limited flight availability posed a real risk that members of the group would be stranded overseas and need medical treatment. The timing of the return to Australia also created difficulties for the team to find a clear path to Tokyo if they qualified.
“Even if Australia successfully won the event, the timing did not allow the team to complete the quarantine in Australia and qualify for the Tokyo Games. Coordinating a camp abroad at short notice that the TOCOG. corresponds to [Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympics] Playbook requirements were also not an option. “
Australia’s Olympic boss de Mission Ian Chesterman said he understood the reasons for the decision. “I can only express my condolences to the team in these very challenging circumstances,” said Chesterman. “As difficult as the decision may have been, we understand the need to put athlete health first, especially given the complexities our baseball players have faced.”
Other nations have also dropped out of the qualifiers, with Taiwan dropping number 4 last week and China dropping out before that.