Chicago Cubs: World Baseball Classic will not be played in 2021

Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs / World Baseball Classic (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs / World Baseball Classic (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

We still don’t know if we’ll see the Chicago Cubs take the field in 2020. But we do know the World Baseball Classic will not be played until at least 2023.

While Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are working toward putting a plan in motion for there to be a shortened baseball season in 2020, events in 2021 are being canceled or postponed. According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, the fifth World Baseball Classic, which had been set to take place in March 2021 will not be played next year.

The WBC requires approval from both the MLB and the MLBPA. Since the MLB season is the highest priority and because their collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021, the World Baseball Classic might not happen for several years. In fact, the soonest it could happen is March 2023  if the date is approved by the tournament board.

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This news is incredibly disappointing for fans of the tournament. It might not be as popular as the MLB in the United States, but it is incredibly popular in Latin American and Asian countries that participate.  In addition, the tournament has gained a following over the years and will hopefully continue to do so despite the postponement

The 2021 World Baseball Classic was set to expand from 16 teams to 20 teams and would have taken place across three countries and in different venues: Japan (Tokyo Dome), Taiwan (Taichung Intercontinental Stadium) and the United States (Marlins Park and Chase Field).

Japan was the reigning champion of the first two World Baseball Classics, the Dominican Republic won in 2013 and the U.S. in 2017. The 16 teams that competed in 2017 were granted automatic bids for 2021 but there are four new seeds up for grabs.

The 16 teams that have automatic bids are Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela. With just four openings left, the countries that are set to compete for them were Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Nicaragua, Panama, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa.

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Along with the World Baseball Classic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were also postponed until next summer due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Both baseball and softball were set to reappear in the Olympics after a lengthy hiatus. Yes, this was only postponed one year until 2021 but even this timeline might not be feasible, only time will tell. Hopefully the world as a whole improves and Chicago Cubs baseball as well as other sports will be back underway as soon as possible.