For the first time in Olympic history, Cuba will not have a baseball team. This is a national drama. “Baseball is the national sport, almost everyone is crazy about it.”
The Cuban national football team was eliminated from the group stage of the Olympic qualifiers in the United States. The road to Tokyo is tough: only 6 countries are allowed to participate and in the North and South American qualifying championships, only the winner can go to the Olympics.
Baseball is back on the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, but regular customer Cuba won’t be there. “Every time baseball was present at the Olympics, Cuba had a medal and three out of five times it was a gold medal,” Floris Geerts says.
Cuba lost to Venezuela and Canada in the group stage and the win against Colombia is no more. For example, Cuba will be missing out for the first time in the Olympic baseball tournament.
“It hurts,” coach Armando Ferrer said. “We all know what this sport means to our people. Baseball runs in our veins and we deeply regret that we did not qualify.”
Almost everyone in Cuba is crazy about baseball.
Floris Gertz explains that disqualification is a drama. “Baseball is more than sacred in Cuba, everyone there is crazy about the sport. It has everything to do with the struggle for independence against Spain. Baseball was American, and therefore anti-Spanish.”
“For example, baseball became popular in Cuba, although later history recognized itself. Now it is strange that Cuba is completely crazy about this American sport. But Fidel Castro was also a huge fan, he even had a team with his revolutionary team The myth he once experienced with the New York Yankees is not true.”
When they arrived in the United States, star Cesar Prieto got into a car and left with squeaking tires.
“Baseball is so big in Cuba, it’s a national sport. They’re usually pretty good at it too. But the national team got hit because many Cubans left the country to play elsewhere.”
For example, there is the story of Cesar Prieto, one of the stars. “When they got to the United States, where the qualifiers are taking place, he got in a car and got out with slick tires. If we are to believe the Cuban henchmen.”
Prieto hasn’t been trackable since then and he’s not the first. “For a profitable contract, say, $100 million for 4 years, you can already leave the national team behind. But if 300 of your best players leave Cuba, the level of your national team drops significantly.”
It is already certain that four countries will participate in Tokyo: Japan, Mexico, Israel and South Korea. There is still only one ticket to be won in the US and the Netherlands is still being contested.
In the last Olympic qualifying tournament, the Netherlands will compete against Australia and the second and third U.S. qualifiers. China and Taiwan fail. The winner can go to the Olympics.