(Reuters) - The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) said on Monday it has postponed its final qualification tournament for the Tokyo Olympics to June because of the coronavirus epidemic.
The six-team event, originally scheduled for April 1-5 in Taiwan, will now take place June 17-21 to safeguard the health of players, personnel and spectators.
The flu-like virus that originated in China late last year has killed nearly 3,000 people, infected over 86,500 globally and is forcing the cancellation or postponement of numerous sporting and other events.
“After consulting with medical and governmental authorities, a joint decision by the WBSC and the local organizing committee was taken to postpone the event,” WBSC said in a statement.
Hosts Taiwan, Australia, China, the Netherlands and the teams that finish second and third in the March 22-26 WBSC Americas qualifier in the United States will compete.
Four countries have qualified for the Tokyo Games due to begin on July 24 - Japan, Israel, South Korea and Mexico. The winner of the Americas qualifer will take the fifth berth while the Taiwan event will decide the final place.
Baseball is returning to the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs