The Cuban baseball team that will participate in the Pre-Olympic of the Americas qualifying tournament landed this Wednesday at four in the afternoon at the Miami airport from Havana, where they boarded a Swift Air airline flight shortly after 2 p.m.
The Cuban team covered the short journey between the Caribbean capital and South Florida without any setbacks. Once there, they passed the respective immigration controls and left the airport, where some media and fans were waiting for the around 40-strong delegation.
The Cubans will stay at the Hilton Garden Hotel, which will be their headquarters. The facility is located in West Palm Beach, one of the cities that, along with St. Lucie, will host the penultimate baseball qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics.
Eight teams will take part in the competition. Their maximum goal is to obtain the only direct ticket to Tokyo, while those classified in second and third position will have an additional opportunity in the last Pre-Olympic, scheduled to be held in Mexico in mid-June.
The Cubans received the visas to travel to United States this Tuesday afternoon, after a period of uncertainty and waiting to complete the immigration procedures at the consular section of the United States embassy in Havana, which opened its doors in an extraordinary way for this process.
After not being able to carry out visa procedures in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Guyana, the Cuban authorities received the go-ahead to undertake the process in Havana, thanks to the procedure of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation, the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Baseball and the Pre-Olympic Organizing Committee.
The negotiations came to fruition and in a matter of two weeks the 40 members of the Cuban delegation fulfilled all the corresponding requirements, including an in-sight appointment at the U.S. embassy in Havana.
Already in Florida, Cuba will play two preparation games before debuting against Venezuela on Monday, May 31. The first practice game will be against the Dominican Republic this Thursday, May 27, and on Saturday, May 29, they will play against Nicaragua.
According to journalist Hernández Luján, the Cuban high command will use Lázaro Blanco (two entries) against the Dominican Republic, and then Yudiel Rodríguez, Yariel Rodríguez, Liván Moinelo, Raidel Martínez and Andy Rodríguez will do their bit.
Venezuela (Cuba’s rival on Monday at one in the afternoon in Palm Beach) lost this Wednesday against the Dominicans in a confrontational match. Aníbal Sánchez, announced as a starter against the Cubans, allowed three runs in five innings against the Dominicans.
Note: A few hours after the arrival, the Cuban infielder César Prieto, one of the main prospects with ties to the Antillean sports movement, left the delegation that will participate in the Pre-Olympic Games of the Americas in Florida. His decision opens a huge hole in the Caribbean ninth and leaves a big question about the possibilities of the Antillean ninth in the qualifiers.