By Ali Iveson |
Bryce Harper, six times a Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star, has called for MLB players to be allowed to play at the Olympic Games.
Before Tokyo 2020 was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), MLB and MLB Players Association had agreed a deal which would allow players on 40-man MLB rosters to play in Olympic qualifiers and the Games, but only if the players were not on an active MLB roster.
A star like Harper, who last year joined the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal worth $330 million, would not fit that criteria.
“It is such a travesty to me,” Harper said on the Starting 9 podcast.
“I’m not saying this as disrespect to minor-leaguers – the Olympics are in Tokyo, and you’re not sending big-league guys?
“Are you kidding me?”
“You want to grow the game as much as possible and you’re not going to let us play in the Olympics because you don’t want to [lose] out on money for a two-week period?
“Okay, that’s dumb.”
Harper said he would like MLB to “shock the world and put all your big-leaguers back in” the Olympics.
The Nippon Professional Baseball season was to pause for Tokyo 2020 this year, allowing its top players to compete, and WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari has told insidethegames he is “confident” a similar agreement will be in place for the rearragended Games in 2021.
The Korean Baseball Organisation had also factored in a break, but the chances of MLB doing the same are remote.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said previously that he “can’t imagine” the league taking a mid-season break long enough to allow players to compete at the Olympics, focussing instead on having them play in the World Baseball Classic, which is sanctioned jointly by MLB and the WBSC.
Baseball and softball are due to feature on the Olympic programme for the first time since 2008 next summer.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.