Canadian men to play Olympic baseball qualifier in June at Florida

·2 min read
Major League Baseball and players' association agreed in February players not on 26-man rosters would be available for the men's Olympic qualifier in June. Former Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey, left, played in the Premier 12 qualifying tourney in November 2019. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images/File - image credit)
Major League Baseball and players' association agreed in February players not on 26-man rosters would be available for the men's Olympic qualifier in June. Former Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey, left, played in the Premier 12 qualifying tourney in November 2019. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images/File - image credit)

Canada's quest to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament this summer will take the national men's team to Florida in three months.

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

The Canadians are grouped with Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela while the United States is grouped with Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The tourney was to begin March 22, 2020 in Surprise and Tempe, Ariz., before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world and forced the postponement of last year's Olympics.

In November 2019, Canada posted a 1-2 record and was eliminated by Australia in the first round at the Premier 12 Olympic qualifying event in Arizona.

"Our pitching was outstanding all tournament, but you have to score runs to win games and we failed to do that," Canadian manager Ernie Whitt told reporters following a 3-1 loss to the Aussies.

WATCH | Canada eliminated at Premier 12 Olympic qualifier:

The Canadians will attempt to qualify for the Olympics for a third straight time in hopes of winning its first medal after baseball was dropped from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Top 2 teams in each group move to super round

In June, the top two teams from each group 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.

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 players not on 26-man major league rosters would be available for the Americas tournament.

The change made the roster rule like 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 is being dropped again for 2024 in Paris.

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