With the European/African Olympic Qualifier just finished, there is only one chance left for Europe to get a ticket for Tokyo. Other continents are offered three opportunities, the regional qualifiers included.
In a recent post, you could read about the way of working of Italian-born Riccardo Fraccari, chairman of the WBSC. All by himself and behind the back of the other candidate Spain, he negotiated with Bologna about organizing the European/African Qualifier. Obviously, he was hoping for Italy clinching the Olympic ticket due to the home-field advantage. Things went a bit different as the Azzuri finished in fourth place with two wins and three losses.
Unfortunately, a team operating under the name Israel with US-born players (but two), punched the ticket for Tokyo. This team was the strongest by far, so it deserves a ticket to Tokyo. But the fact that hardly any of the US-born players has set foot on Israel’s soil makes it bitter. About two-hundred active players play baseball in Israel and apparently, the level is nothing to write home about. Why else did they hire a bunch of US-born Jewish players?
The Kingdom of the Netherlands finished in second place to keep the Olympic hope alive. Somewhere in March 2020, there will be one final global qualifying tournament with the runners up from the regional qualifiers. This will be the ONLY second chance for the Netherlands to clinch a ticket to Tokyo.
Another strange thing is the format of the regional qualifiers: A series of games and the team that ends on top of the standings wins a ticket to Tokyo. Every other international tournament/championship has a final in which the two best teams battle for the overall victory. So why didn’t the WBSC choose for that option?
Then the Premier12. The winner and the runner up of this prestigious tournament will be qualified directly. So could this be another chance for the Dutch? Nope…. In all its wisdom, the WBSC has decided that only teams from the Americas, Asia and Oceania can clinch a ticket to Tokyo. On my e-mail with the question of why only the aforementioned continents can qualify at the Premier12, the WBSC simply does not answer. This and Fraccari’s behind the back negotiations make the WBSC a “real transparent” organization. One has to admit that the level of baseball in the Americas and Asia is at a higher level than in Europe but I dare to doubt the level in Oceania is. So that makes the choice for Oceania over Europe unjust.
I must be honest. The chance of the Dutch winning the Premier12 is small. So even IF Europe would have had a shot of clinching a spot at the 2020 Olympics through the Premier12, the chance the Dutch would have made it would not be big.
But nevertheless, those who have decided to have a set of qualification chances like this must have lost their feel with the game. It makes the Olympic qualifier questionable to put it mildly.