Taichung's Hu pitches for b aseball championship

STEPPING UP: Jason Hu said the nation should grant visas to Venezuelan players should Taichung win the bid, as there should be no political interference


Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 2

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said yesterday that his city wants to seek the right to host the 13th Youth World Baseball Championship (YWBC) after the championship series was canceled because the Taiwan team was refused visas to enter Venezuela, the host country.

The Switzerland-based International Baseball Federation (IBAF) canceled the Caracas tournament on Tuesday after the host country succumbed to pressure from China to refuse to grant visas to the Taiwanese baseballers. The tournament was originally scheduled to open today.

Hu said that canceling an international championship on the eve of its opening is a serious matter and that such a situation has never happened since the YWBC's first tournament was held in Japan in 1989.

The shambles in Venezuela reflects the universal principle that "politics should not affect sports," Hu said, expressing his appreciation for the IBAF's just handling of the situation.

Speaking about the central city's desire to host the 13th YWBC, which will be postponed for 12 months while the IBAF finds another venue for the tournament, Hu said Taichung is on the IBAF's priority list of possible host cities, after his city hosted the IBAF Intercontinental Cup tournament last year.

Japan and South Korea have also expressed their interest in hosting the international youth event.

Hu said August was not a good month to hold the tournament in Taiwan because of the hot weather, suggesting the IBAF hold the competition during the winter.

The mayor also said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should grant visas to the Venezuelan team should it be invited to attend the games if they are held in Taiwan, reiterating his call for no political interference in sport.