Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Beijing baseball qualifiers

TALL ORDER Taiwan, Japan and South Korea lie in wait for the team that progresses from the mini-tournament that started in Taichung yesterday

DPA , TAIPEI

Team Taiwan baseball player Chang Tai-shan warms up yesterday with the help of two trainers ahead of the Asian baseball qualifiers in Taichung.

PHOTO: LIA YAO-TUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Asian qualifying for the baseball tournament at next year's Beijing Olympics began yesterday in Taichung.

Seven teams are participating in the games, which last until Monday.

The qualifiers, played at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium and Taichung Baseball Stadium, are divided into two parts.

In the first phase, which began yesterday, Asia's B-class teams -- Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand -- compete in a mini-tournament.

The winner will advance to the Asian Olympic Baseball Qualifiers from Saturday to Monday, to which Asia's A-class teams -- Taiwan, Japan and South Korea -- have direct entry.

Eight teams will compete for baseball gold at the Olympics -- one each from from hosts China, Asia, Europe and two from the Americas, as well as three wild-card holders.

Europe and the Americas have already completed their qualifying games and will be represented by the Netherlands, the US and Cuba.

In March, Taiwan will hold the Special Qualifiers in which seven teams will compete for the three wild cards to the Beijing Olympics. The participants will be the No. 2 and No. 3 teams from Asia and Europe, the No. 3 from the Americas, and the No. 1 teams from Africa and Oceania.

The Beijing Games carry special significance for baseball players and fans because the International Olympic Committee has dropped the sport from future games.

Baseball is popular in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the US and parts of Latin America.

China, to assert its place as a sports giant in the world, has begun to train baseball players in recent years, using Taiwanese baseball coaches.

In yesterday's games, it was: Philippines 2, Pakistan 0; Thailand 8, Hong Kong 4.

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