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MLB commissioner ‘can’t imagine’ best baseball players in Olympics

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MIAMI (AP) — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has repeated the sport’s opposition to having top major leaguers play at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2020 Games are scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9, and Major League Baseball has repeatedly said it will not interrupt its season.

The World Baseball Classic, co-owned by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, has been the sport’s alternative.

“I can’t imagine a situation where we would take the kind of break that would be necessary to have our best players in the Olympics,” Manfred said Monday during an All-Star Game town hall meeting. “As a result of that, we feel the WBC is crucial as a substitute, a premiere international tournament that allows our players to play for their countries.”

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No talks yet between MLB, international baseball officials on Olympics

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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred remains skeptical of major leaguers at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but he’s also still waiting to discuss the matter with international officials.

“There have not been any substantive discussions with the baseball and softball confederation about participation of major-league players in the 2020 Olympics,” Manfred said Tuesday in Tokyo for the World Baseball Classic, according to the Japan Times. “I’m sure that those conversations will take place. We have not even been informed about what exactly the format of the event is going to be, how many days would be involved and whatnot.

“I am more than prepared to hear what the event is going to look like, describe to our owners what our options are with respect to participation in that type of event, and we’ll make a decision from there.”

When baseball was re-added to the Olympics for 2020, ending a 12-year absence from the Games, it was reported that the tournament would include six teams. In the most recent Olympic baseball tournaments, there were eight teams.

Both Manfred and the MLB Players Association head have emphasized the difficulties in MLB participation in Tokyo 2020, most notably the fact that the Games take place during the MLB and minor-league seasons.

“The skepticism that you’ve heard from some relates to, no matter how you put the event together there would be a significant amount of major league players who would be away from their teams,” Manfred said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. “It would alter the competition in our everyday game. I do not believe our owners would support some sort of a break in our season. Continuity is really important to our competition.”

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Rob Manfred: Tokyo Olympic dates ‘not ideal’ for MLB

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — As Major League Baseball prepares for talks about the 2020 Olympics, Commissioner Rob Manfred said “from a calendar prospective, the dates of the Tokyo Games are not ideal.”

The International Olympic Committee executive board voted last month to support a six-nation tournament that year in both baseball and women’s softball, and the full IOC is to vote in August on the inclusion of the World Baseball Softball Confederation for the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled from July 24-Aug. 9.

Baseball became a medal sport for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but was dropped for the 2012 London Games and won’t be played next month in Rio de Janeiro. MLB is reluctant to stop its season for the Olympics, and players are reticent to play anywhere other than the big league stadiums they are accustomed to.

“We’re going to have some meetings with the international baseball and softball federation to fully understand what the program is going to be in Tokyo in terms of how long, how many, before we have any final decision on that issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. “We like the idea of baseball being in the Olympics. We’re supportive of baseball being in the Olympics.”

The IOC wants the top players to appear in the Olympics, and the Japanese Central and Pacific Leagues appear open to interrupting their seasons for the Tokyo Games. The NBA has sent its players since 1992 and the NHL since 1998 — although the NHL has not yet committed for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In 2008, only those not on 25-man big league rosters as of late June were allowed to compete in the Beijing Games. The U.S. team included Jake Arrieta and Stephen Strasburg — both All-Stars this year.

Cuba won gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2004, the U.S. in 2000 and South Korea in 2008.

“Is there an appreciation for the value of having baseball in the Olympics? Yes, there is,” union head Tony Clark said Monday. “Is there an appreciation for the season and how or if it could work with our active players? Yeah, there’s a conversation, but we run into the same roadblocks we always have.”

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