Rumours had been spreading for a week or so, longer if you include the initial reports that Team GB were struggling to come up with the funds to pay for the trip. Now it has been confirmed: Great Britain has withdrawn from the final Olympic qualifier set to take place in March. Germany will take Team GB’s place.
Having come so close to qualifying automatically via the European Championships last year, this is a bitter blow for the players who have now had their chance taken away from them through no fault of their own. Although Team GB’s odds of making it through the qualifier were probably slim, they had fully earned the right to give it their best shot.
The official statement raises many questions about the future of the Great Britain team as we face up to the prospect of “no external funding” due to baseball’s declassification as an Olympic sport. I’ll give the issue some thought and publish my views over the weekend.
UPDATE: The IBAF statement on this claims “among other concerns, Great Britain cited issues with player availability as to why it is unable attend the qualification tournament”. Possibly this is due to some of the squad being involved in minor league spring training camps in the U.S. The British statement clearly says that their withdrawal was due to “lack of funds” though.