Taichung to host baseball qualifiers for the Olympics

(Photo: CPBL chairman Tsai Chi-chang, right, speaks with radio show host Clara Chou at the Hit FM studio in Taipei yesterday)

The last baseball qualifying round before the Tokyo Olympic Games is to be held in Taichung from June 16 to 20, CPBL chairman Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said yesterday, adding that the league would follow disease prevention guidelines laid out by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Tsai made the remarks during an interview with political commentator Clara Chou (周玉蔻) on her morning radio show.
Taiwan, Australia, China and the Netherlands, as well as two other countries ranked second and third in the Americas qualifiers, would compete in the final qualifiers, which would send only one team to the Games in July.
The Americas qualifiers are scheduled to take place in early June in Florida, the World Baseball Softball Confederation said on Saturday last week.
While the CPBL is responsible for choosing professional baseball players for the national team, the CTBA would coordinate with the CECC to ensure that all players follow the disease prevention guidelines applicable to them during the qualifiers, Tsai said.
The league would suspend all of its games when the qualifiers begin, so that players on the national team can focus on preparing for the competition, he said.
Asked what would happen if the last qualifying round was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsai said Taiwan would automatically qualify to compete in Tokyo, as it ranks No. 1 in points.
“I believe the competition should be able to proceed without any problem,” he said.
Several Taiwanese playing in overseas professional leagues have returned to Taiwan, including Wang Wei-chung (王維中) and Hu Chih-wei (胡智為) of the Wei Chuan Dragons, and Chiang Shao-ching (江少慶) of the Fubon Guardians.
Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷), who plays for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, has said he is willing to compete in the qualifiers as long as the nation needs him.
CTBA secretary-general Richard Lin (林宗成) said that the association and CPBL representatives would today discuss the disease prevention guidelines to be implemented during the qualifiers.
“We have drafted a plan and will send it to the Sports Administration after the details are finalized through our meeting with the CPBL. The Sports Administration would then turn the plan over to the CECC,” he said.
The association’s proposed plan would require foreign players to undergo seven days of quarantine upon arriving in Taiwan, Lin said, adding that the CECC would have the final say on the number of days that the players should spend in quarantine.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), who is deputy head of the CECC, said that as players from five countries are to compete in the qualifier, the CTBA has been asked to submit a comprehensive disease prevention plan to the Sports Administration for a preliminary review.
“We will have experts review the plan handed to us by the Sports Administration,” Chen said.
The guidelines are likely to resemble those used to form “travel bubbles,” he added.
To ensure that the qualifiers can proceed as planned, the CECC might propose that all foreign players be quarantined for at least five days, Chen said, adding that they can only compete after they test negative for COVID-19.
Experts need to further discuss whether the players’ movements would be restricted during their stay in Taiwan, Chen said.