The 2019 Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament moved one step closer to reality Monday morning, with the official announcement of the 12-team draw.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation made the announcement from its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and the proceedings were live-streamed online. In South Surrey, organizing committee members, Team Canada players, media and local dignitaries gathered at Softball City to see where the dozen participating teams would be placed.
Speaking prior to the WBSC announcement, Surrey tournament chairperson Greg Timm called the announcement “an important step” in the process of getting the tournament off the ground.
“This makes it feel real now,” he said.
Surrey was named as the host city in January.
The tournament will consist of two six-team pools, and four teams – Canada and Puerto Rico in Pool A, and Mexico and Venezuela in Pool B – were pre-seeded and not subject to Monday’s random draw. To determine seeding, WBSC officials in Switzerland drew a country’s name from a lottery hopper, and then choose a second ball from a second hopper that determined both the pool and seed within that pool.
Argentina, for example, was the first name drawn, and were assigned ‘A6’ by the second draw, which puts them as the sixth seed in Group A.
Canada – the top-ranked team of the 12 taking part in the tournament – will serve as Group A’s top seed, followed by Puerto Rico. The Bahamas are the third seed, followed by Cuba, Guatemala and Argentina. In Group 3, Mexico and Venezuela are first and second, respectively, followed in order by Brazil, Peru, British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Afterward, Timm called the finished product “a very fair draw.” Of the unranked teams, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are considered the two best, he said, and they ended up on opposite sides of the tournament.
The draw should work out well for Canada, too, he said.
“It’s good for them, very fair.”
The tournament will run at Softball City from Aug. 25-Sept. 1. Though the official schedule will be released within a few weeks, Timm said Canada will play its round-robin games at 6 p.m. each night. After group-play ends on the Thursday of that week, a “super round” of playoffs will run from Friday through the weekend.
Two teams will qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Olympic tournament – the first for softball since 2008 – will feature six teams. Japan, as the host nation, are automatically qualified, while the United States is also in after winning last summer’s world championship.
At Monday’s event, Timm also noted that the qualifier tournament would be broadcast online via CBC, and one playoff-round game would also be broadcast on television. He also took the opportunity to Monday to announce that ticket and sponsorship packages will be released shortly.
“After (the schedule is announced), our ticket campaign will be in full force,” he said.