The 2021 World Baseball Classic will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.
Per Rojas, a source told him, “The tournament was canceled. It is not the priority right now,” while another source said, “Basically the only thing missing is an official announcement.”
The fifth installment of the international baseball tournament was scheduled to take place from March 9th until March 23rd of next year in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan.
16 countries — Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela — had already qualified for the 2021 WBC since they all participated in 2017.
However, with the tournament increasing its number of participating teams to 20, two additional qualifying tournaments were set to take place in Arizona in March, but they were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
The cancellations of those qualifying events came about three weeks before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were also postponed.
As Rojas states, “Because the [WBC] is part of the current Collective Labor Agreement (CBA) between MLB and its players union, which expires in December 2021, rescheduling the tournament must be negotiated.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is reporting that the next World Baseball Classic will either be held in 2023 or 2025. More specific details will likely come into focus once Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agree on a specific date in future negotiations.