(ATR) No Cuban athletes that defected to the United States will be allowed to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics or 2017 World Baseball Classic.
President of the Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) Antonio Becali tells Around the Rings that athletes must remain within Cuba in order to represent the country.
"Now we go to keep (competing) with athletes who are within the Cuban sports system, for all sports in general," he told ATR following a press conference detailing Cuba’s participation in the upcoming Olympics this August.
Recent interactions between Cuba and Major League Baseball such as an exhibition game in Havana raised expectations that the Cuban national team could comprise both defectors who left to play in the MLB and those who remain in the Cuban National Series.
The MLB and INDER are still contemplating the possibility of allowing Cuban athletes to play in the majors without violating the embargo or having to defect from the country.
Becali tells ATR he is happy with the change in U.S.-Cuba relations, including a recent federal indictment of three people attempting to smuggle 17 Cuban baseball players into the U.S. who had paid $15 million for a stealth departure from Cuba.
"We are against this illegal sport trafficking taking place in our country," he said.
Cuban defectors won’t be the only athletes in the country missing out at the Rio Olympics. Becali tells ATR that Cuba is still determining the feasibility of women’s boxing in the country and will not approve women’s participation prior to Rio.
"What we are studying, boxing for women especially need a scientific study to then take a decision," he said.
Women’s boxing was added to the Olympic program at the London 2012 Games and AIBA president C.K. Wu is an advocate of equal participation of men and women. He could play a role in developing the women’s discipline in Cuba.
The Rio Olympics begin Aug. 5 and conclude on Aug. 21.
Written by Miguel Hernandez and translated by Kevin Nutley.
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