Last Tuesday, I reported to you that qualifiers for the 2021 World Baseball Classic will take place in Tucson, Arizona from March 12-25.
If you’re going to be in the Phoenix area for spring training and can stay a few days past the time when MLB spring games end, you can see more international competition, as qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics baseball tournament will be taking place at two spring venues, Tempe Diablo Stadium and Surprise Stadium.
Per this page from the World Baseball Softball Confederation, sponsor of international baseball, four countries have already qualified for the Olympics baseball tournament: Japan, Korea, Mexico and Israel.
This tournament will select two more countries to participate in Tokyo this summer.
Here are the countries participating in the Phoenix-area qualifier:
Group A: No. 2 USA, No. 10 Dominican Republic, No. 11 Puerto Rico and No. 15 Nicaragua.
Group B: No. 8 Cuba, No. 9 Venezuela, No. 12 Canada and No. 14 Colombia.
Here is the game schedule:
Here’s how the tournament works:
After group play concludes, the top two finishers from each group will advance to the Super Round, where they will each play two games. Head-to-head contests among these teams from the opening round will carry over into the Super Round standings.
The team with the best Super Round record will be declared the winner and become the fifth National Team to advance to the baseball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, joining world No. 1 Japan, No. 3 Korea, No. 5 Mexico and No. 18 Israel.
The runner-up and the third-place team in the Americas Qualifier will play the Final Qualifier, scheduled from 1 to 5 April in Taichung and Douliou City, Taiwan. They will battle for the last spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, along with No. 4 Chinese Taipei and No. 20 China, who both qualified through the Asia Championship, the runner-up from the Europe/Africa Qualifier, No. 8 Netherlands, and No. 7 Australia, the Oceania representative.
So overall there will be six countries participating in baseball in the Tokyo Olympics this summer. It will be the first time baseball will be part of the Olympics since 2008, when South Korea won the gold medal and the USA won bronze. It’s still unclear whether baseball will continue as an Olympic sport past 2020, so hopefully the tournament in Tokyo will bring large and enthusiastic crowds so the IOC will retain the sport for the 2024 Games in Paris.
There are no details yet on how to get tickets for the games in Surprise and Tempe; I will post that info, as well as results from this tournament, as available. You can also follow the @SurpriseStadium and @DiabloStadium Twitter accounts for info on this qualifying tournament.