RONALD BLUM | Associated Press
U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth called on the Bush administration to reverse its decision to keep Cuba out of next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Ueberroth, a former baseball commissioner and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, said last week’s decision by the Treasury Department to deny Cuba a permit to play in the 16-team event will damage American efforts to host the Olympics in the future. Olympic host countries must guarantee all nations can participate.
“It is important to any future bid city from the United States that this be reversed,” Ueberroth said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It’s disappointing. This will impact IOC members negatively. This may be the only example of a country prohibiting competition on an international scale.”
When Ueberroth headed the 1984 Olympics, he worked with the Reagan administration to ensure that Cuba would be allowed to participate.
“It was a difficult discussion and difficult negotiating,” Ueberroth said.
Cuba ultimately chose to join a boycott of the Los Angeles Games but did send athletes to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where it won nine gold medals and 25 medals in all.
Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said last week that generally speaking, “the Cuba embargo prohibits entering into contracts in which Cuba or Cuban nationals have an interest.”
Baseball officials hope a revised plan will gain approval. For instance, when Cuba came to the United States this year for the CONCACAF World Cup, no payments were made directly to the Cubans. One soccer official said some money was given to Cuba by the Caribbean Football Union, which is based in Trinidad and Tobago.