Baseball qualification for the Olympics can be maddening to understand. With major tournaments, plus an additional 10 events feeding into those qualifiers, there is a lot of which to keep track. Thus far, two of the six teams for Tokyo are known: host Japan, plus Israel, the winner of the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualification Tournament. The Premier 12 will add another two teams, while the additional pair will advance out of a pair of qualifiers. Here is where we currently stand, with the Premier 12 ongoing.
Team 2: Europe
Israel survived the gauntlet of European and African qualification, which included a two-level African Championship and a three-level European Championship.
Team 3: Asia
Team 4: Americas
The Premier 12 guaranteed the highest finisher from the Americas a spot in the Olympics. If the top team from Oceania or Asia (excluding Japan) finished in the top six, it would qualify.
With First Round almost complete, one of the Mexico (3-0), U.S. (2-1), Canada (1-1), or Cuba (1-1) will qualify. Either Taiwan or South Korea will likely join Japan and Israel in Tokyo. Mathematically, Australia has not quite been eliminated from the Super Round, but has a very difficult road.
UPDATE: It was, of course, Australia, that advanced, with potential ramifications for both Asia and the Americas. Australia could not only head to the Olympics, but in doing so it could also eliminate South Korea from Olympic contention (see below). Meanwhile, one of Mexico and the U.S. will now head to Tokyo.
If you are wondering how Australia advanced over two other teams with one win and two losses, it all comes down to Total Quality Balance, or TQB. Our explanation [link].
Team 5: Americas
Three qualifiers remain, with the Americas Qualifier scheduled for March in Arizona. It will include all of the continent’s teams from the Premier 12 that have not received an automatic birth, plus the top two finishers from the Pan-American Games which did not qualify for the Premier 12.
The following Premier 12 teams are already certain to attend: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. The three lowest Premier 12 finishers of Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and the US will join the above three.
UPDATE: Canada and Cuba will now be invited to the Americas Qualifier. Either Mexico or USA will join them.
They will be joined by the bronze medal winners of the Pan-American Games, Nicaragua, and Colombia, which finished fourth.
Team 6: Wild Card
The Final Qualifying Tournament is where things get really confusing. Two teams have already qualified: the second-place finisher from Europe-Africa, the Netherlands, and the top two teams from the Asian Baseball Championship.
Those two teams, though the tournament has already been played, are not yet set. This is because Taiwan, the winners, could qualify for the Olympics directly by finishing above South Korea at the Premier 12. If they do finish above South Korea, then they qualify automatically. If South Korea qualifies directly, then Taiwan heads to the final tournament. If Australia finishes above South Korea and then Taiwan or Taiwan and then South Korea, then Taiwan still heads to the final tournament.
They will be joined by the Oceania Qualifier, of which no details are known. The second and third-place teams from the Americas event will bring the total to six. It is quite possible, then, that teams from Asia and the Americas will have three chances to qualify for the Olympics, while Africa, Europe, and Oceania received only two.
Make sense? Great! Follow us for further updates on Twitter @ExtraInningsUK and here.