Posted at 6:40 a.m., Thursday, August 16, 2007
Baseball: World Junior canceled over visa controversy
Associated PressGENEVA The International Baseball Federation said today it has canceled the World Junior Baseball Championships because host country Venezuela refused to issue visas to Taiwanese players for political reasons.
John Ostermeyer, acting executive director of the Lausanne-based federation, said it had canceled the event after the organization failed to receive assurances from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez or the Venezuelan baseball federation that it would allow Taiwanese players to participate in the Aug. 17-26 tournament.
"We canceled the event because one of the member federations was discriminated against," Ostermeyer said. "And that is completely unacceptable."
Ostermeyer said the situation was complicated because some of the participating teams had already arrived in Venezuela. The tournament was to feature under-16 squads from 10 countries; United States, Colombia, Cuba, Aruba, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Mexico, Japan and France.
"We do not stand in the way if these teams play some friendly games, but under no circumstances will it be referred to as a championship," he said. "It will not have any international recognition in terms of ranking."
On Thursday, a Venezuelan official said the Taiwanese failed to request visas on time.
"We fulfilled our responsibility as organizers of the tournament," said Edwin Zerpa, president of the Venezuelan Baseball Association. "Unfortunately, their request was not made with sufficient time."
In Taiwan, Lin Tzung-cheng, secretary general of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, lauded Ostermeyer's move in canceling the tournament.
"We are grateful to the Baseball Federation for taking the quick action that brings justice to us," Lin said.
"If the Venezuela act were to be condoned, any host country of a sports event could bar the participation of countries it doesn't favor," he said.
Associated Press Writer Annie Huang in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.