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World Baseball Classic postponed until at least 2023, per report

We’ll have to wait longer than expected for the return of baseball’s premier international tournament.

World Baseball Classic - Championship Round - Game 3 - United States v Puerto Rico Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The World Baseball Classic will not be played in 2021 as scheduled and is expected to be postponed until at least 2023. It’s still within the realm of possibilities that this round of the WBC will be scrapped and the tournament will resume on schedule in 2025, per ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.

Obviously, this is crushing for fans of international baseball and players from smaller, non-traditional baseball countries trying to jumpstart professional careers. But two things factor into this decision. First of all, it’s very possible that the coronavirus pandemic will be just as bad next spring as it is right now, making it a dicey proposition to hold a tournament that requires extensive international travel and is so heavily enhanced by the presence of fans in ballparks. Secondly, if things have normalized enough for MLB to have a standard 2021 season, teams are either going to want to take it a bit easier than usual in spring training after playing a 2020 season into November or December, or they’re going to need an extra-challenging spring in the event that the 2020 season is cancelled and players go a full year without getting game reps. Either way, they’re not going to want to deal with the distraction of players leaving camps and doing their own thing during the WBC.

Taiwan, Tokyo, Phoenix and Miami were scheduled to host games for the 2020 World Baseball Classic, but it remains to be seen whether the sites will remain the same if the event is moved back.