2021 World Baseball Classic shelved: report

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Next year's World Baseball Classic has been postponed due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, ESPN reported on Monday.

The March 9-23 tournament was due to take place in the United States, Japan and Taiwan.

The fifth edition of the tournament was due to have featured an expanded field of 20 teams, with the 16 teams that participated in the 2017 tournament joined by four qualifiers.

However, qualifiers due to have taken place in March were postponed indefinitely after the coronavirus crisis erupted.

The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has also complicated the scheduling of the World Baseball Classic as planned.

Baseball is due to return to the Olympics in Tokyo, but World Baseball Classic organizers doubt the feasibility of staging both tournaments in the same calendar year.

Scheduling in 2021 is also complicated by the fact that the tournament is part of Major League Baseball's existing collective bargaining agreement, which expires in December 2021.

ESPN reported that the Classic might not return to the sporting calendar until 2023.

The United States are the reiging World Baseball Classic champions after their victory in 2017.