(ATR) All eight teams competing in the Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament of the Americas are now in Florida, following the arrival of the Cuban team to West Palm Beach.
After a lengthy delay the Cubans received their visas on Tuesday at the United States Embassy in Havana, an unusual circumstance given that since 2017 the diplomatic office there has not offered consular services due to Washington sanctions against Cuba.
It is unknown if this relaxation of the restrictions was exceptional, or if in the next few days another Cuban sports delegation will be allowed to carry out the procedures in the Cuban capital. Starting in July, the Cuban soccer team must compete in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in an elimination group for the Gold Cup that will be played that month in various U.S. cities.
Regarding the decision with baseball, many Cuban families have expressed their hopes on social networks that this action could be a good sign that the Biden Administration may reactivate consular services on the island. Thousands of cases of family reunification and granting of visas are stalled. Cubans have to move to third countries for these procedures.
The 40 members of the Cuban baseball delegation, including 26 players, are already settling into a Palm Beach hotel after complying with the first requirements of the Covid-19 protocols.
Cuba vs Venezuela and Puerto Rico vs Dominican Republic will open the tournament on May 31 that will award a ticket to the Olympic tournament in Tokyo. Also on opening day, the United States will face off against Nicaragua and Colombia against Canada. The Americans are the favorites to win the qualifier.
Teams that finish in second and third places will advance to the World Olympic Qualifier in Mexico.
Last week Mexico agreed to organize that tournament in less than a month after the sudden resignation of Taiwan due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The WBSC must announce in the next few hours the date and the Mexican city that will serve as headquarters.
The Cuban Federation thanked the support found in the World Baseball and Softball Confederation, the Organizing Committee, the Olympic and Paralympic Committee of the United States and USA Baseball, in the management of the visa solution.
Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez
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