International competitions have been especially hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tokyo Olympics was postponed to 2021 and there are doubts that will even happen next year. This is also the case for other international tournaments which consist of a massive gathering of people from all around the world. The more worldwide the competition, the tougher it’ll be to have the competition right now.
Having said that, while the next World Baseball Classic is set to take place next March, the writing is on the wall that there’s no way to be able to fit qualifiers and the tournament by then. And in addition to club leagues being more lucrative and important, the 2021 World Baseball Classic will be reportedly canceled with organizers telling ESPN “they don’t see the event being played again until 2023.”
Qualification for the WBC was supposed to take place later this year for the March 2021 tournament set to happen in Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. According to ESPN, a source told them that “it is not a priority right now.” With leagues all around the world at various states of operation, the focus is going to be on figuring out when to play in the league and making the WBC work around that than the other way around.
This cannot be a good sign for a tournament like the FIFA World Cup, which is set for winter 2022. Yes, that’s 18 months away and if we’re still in the midst of the pandemic by then, we’re going to have way more problems than worrying about playing a soccer tournament but qualification starts for many countries in a few months. And given club leagues, club competitions, UEFA 2020 being postponed and the Nations League in multiple confederations, there aren’t many openings to move World Cup qualification games if they begin to be postponed. Moving the WBC to 2023 sounds drastic but when you get take a look at the details, it starts to make more sense.