After deliberating at the headquarters of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Executive Board awarded Parma and Bologna the rights to serve as the host cities for the upcoming Europe/Africa Baseball Olympic Qualifier from September 18-22, 2019. The road to Tokyo 2020 for Team Italy begins in Bonn/Solingen, Germany at the European Baseball Championship from September 5-16, 2019. The top five finishers of the 2019 European Baseball Championship and the top baseball team in Africa will travel to Parma and Bologna to compete for the one guaranteed ticket to Tokyo awarded to the winner of the Europe/Africa Baseball Olympic Qualifier.
Playing on the Italian home turf of Parma's Stadio Nino Cavalli and Bologna's Stadio di baseball Gianni Falchi under the leadership of manager Gilberto "Gibo" Gerali, Team Italy will have the added benefit of thousands of loyal and loud Azzurri fans in the stands cheering them on to victory. Team Italy has its best chance of getting into the 2020 Tokyo Games by winning the Europe/Africa Baseball Olympic Qualifier.
The Premier 12 brings together the top 12 ranked baseball powerhouses (Japan, USA, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Mexico, Australia, Netherlands, Venezuela, Canada, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic) and takes place from November 2-17, 2019. The WBSC will potentially allocate two spots to Tokyo 2020 with the top team in the final standing from the Asia/Oceania territory (excluding Japan) and the top finisher from the Americas set to qualify for the six-team Olympic Baseball event. The WBSC Executive Board made a ruling in Rome that if no team from Asia or Oceania finishes among the top six, this Olympic slot shall be deferred to the last Qualifier.
Should Team Italy end up placing second in the Europe/Africa Baseball Olympic Qualifier, the path to Tokyo becomes much more complex and requires a long distance trip to Taipei City, Taiwan for a six-team intercontinental competition to determine the last remaining place(s) for Olympic Baseball Qualification. Hosted by the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, this world tournament will be comprised of the second place finisher from the Africa/Europe Qualifier in Italy, the second and third place finishers from the Americas Qualifier in Arizona (March 2020), the top two finishers from the Asian Championship 2019 (not counting nations already qualified for Tokyo 2020), and the winner of Oceania Qualifier 2019. Forza #Italia! #LetsMakeItHappen
by Roberto Angotti