Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring training has been suspended and Opening Day has been pushed back to at least May, and that remains subject to change as the situation develops.
Tuesday morning the International Olympic Committee officially announced the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics have been pushed back to 2021 because of COVID-19. The decision is not surprising given events around the world though it is now official. From the IOC's statement:
In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.
The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Baseball and softball were scheduled to return to the Olympics this summer following a 12-year hiatus. Israel, Korea, Mexico, and host Japan have already secured Olympic baseball berths, and qualifying events to determine the final two spots have been postponed. The first qualifier, the Americas Qualifier, was scheduled to take place in Arizona earlier this month.
. They lost an exciting bronze medal game to Mexico after closer Brandon Dickson blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning. Mexico clinched an Olympic berth with the win. The United States was scheduled to participate in the Americas Qualifier this month.
Last month, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to make 40-man roster players not on the major-league roster available for the Americas Qualifier. That gave Team USA a large available player pool on paper, though the tournament was scheduled to take place in the middle of spring training, when many players were still on their MLB rosters and fighting for a big-league job.
In the past, Olympic rosters were limited to players not on 25-man MLB rosters. Team USA's roster in 2008, the last time baseball was included in the Olympics, was built around a few top prospects, Triple-A journeymen, and a high-profile college sophomore named Stephen Strasburg.
Baseball officially became a medal sport in 1992. Cuba won Olympic gold in 1992, 1996, and 2004. Team USA upset Cuba to win gold in 2000. Korea won the most recent gold medal in baseball in 2008.