A Covid curveball has smashed Steve Kent's hope for a Tokyo Olympic swansong and pushed the Canberra Cavalry star pitcher to rethink retirement plans.
Baseball Australia announced on Wednesday Team Australia had withdrawn from the final Olympic qualifier due to "insurmountable" logistical challenges.
The Canberra Cavalry star pitcher said he wasn't "going to go out that way" after the "upsetting" blow dashed his dream for the Toyko Olympics to be the perfect swansong.
"We were scheduled to leave on Monday, it happened so close to our expected departure, it made it even tougher because we were all really excited and getting ready to go," he said.
Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams said the team had withdrawn from the qualifier in Mexico later this month because of logistical and health challenges posed by Covid quarantine requirements.
"Athlete health and safety was always of paramount importance and there were simply too many unanswered questions presenting significant risks post the event and in transiting back to Australia," he said.
"The complexity of moving such a large group, through two countries, with limited flight availability, presented a real risk of members of the group being stranded overseas and requiring medical treatment.
"Timing of entry back into Australia also presented difficulties in establishing a clear path to Tokyo for the team if they qualified.
"Even if Team Australia were successful in winning the event, the timing didn't allow for the team to complete quarantine in Australia and meet the requirements of entry to the Tokyo games."
Kent announced plans to retire in February, with the Tokyo games set to be the last hurrah in his career, but he has now opened the door to another ABL season, hoping to end his career without Covid disruptions.
"I'm not going to go out that way," Kent said.
"I might have to have a think about what that means for me going forward, but this isn't the way I want to finish up my career.
"Whether that means I play in the ABL again next season and just try and finish not disrupted by Covid, that might be a possibility."
Kent said that while the decision was a blow, it was ultimately the "best decision for the health of the sport in the long term" due to the huge costs involved.
The final Olympic qualifier will be held in Mexico on June 22 to 26 after the decision to shift it from Taiwan was made on May 21 due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Puebla, Mexico was announced as the host city on May 29.
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