Olympic baseball qualifying moved from Arizona to Florida

The second-chance tournament for the U.S. to qualify for baseball at the delayed Tokyo Olympics is likely to take place in Florida in June.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation said Tuesday the eight-nation Americas Qualifier is expected to be contested in early June at Florida sites to be announced.

The U.S. is grouped with Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, while Canada, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela are in the other group.

In each group, the top two teams advance to a super round, with head-to-head group results carrying over. The super round winner joins host Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea in the six-nation Olympic field.

Second- and third-place nations advance to a final qualifying tournament that was rescheduled Tuesday for June 16-20 in Taiwan, joining a field that will include Australia, China, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

The Americas tournament was originally scheduled for March 22-26, 2020, in Surprise and Tempe, Arizona.

The U.S. was three outs from qualifying in November 2019 at the Premier12. Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Brandon Dickson leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, Efren Navarro had a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar to drive in the winning run in the 10th and Mexico beat the Americans 3-2.

While only players not on 40-man major league rosters were available for the Premier12, Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed in February 2020 that players not on 26-man major league rosters would be available for the Americas tournament. The change made the roster rule similar to the one in place the last time baseball was included in the Olympics.

Baseball was an Olympic event from 1992-2008. Cuba won three gold medals, the U.S. one (2000) and South Korea one (2008). The sport has been restored for the Tokyo Games and is being dropped again for 2024.

This year’s Olympic event will be played at Fukushima and Yokohama from July 28 to Aug. 7.

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