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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 17:04 GMT
US allows Cuba to play in Classic
The US government has backed down on a decision to ban Cuba from playing in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

The US Treasury Department issued a licence on Friday allowing the Cubans to participate in the 16-team event.

It follows threats by the International Baseball Federation to withdraw its sanction of the tournament, and by Puerto Rico to withdraw as a co-host.

The US government initially used laws enforcing economic sanctions against Communist Cuba to bar its team.

US laws aimed at punishing Fidel Castro's government continue to prohibit certain commercial transactions with Cuba.

The first application to allow the Cubans to take part was rejected in mid-December by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

But Major League Baseball's commissioner's office and Players' Association reapplied after Cuba said it would donate any profits it receives to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We worked very closely with World Baseball Classic and the State Department," said Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise.

"The agreement upholds the legal scope and the spirit of the agreement. It ensures no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime."

The Cuban national team was cleared to take part by Cuban President Castro in November.

Cuba won the Olympic gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004. The United States won in 2000.

The World Baseball Classic will take place from 3-20 March in the US, Puerto Rico and Japan.


SEE ALSO
US bars Cuban team from Classic
15 Dec 05 |  Baseball
Bonds set for World Classic event
01 Dec 05 |  Baseball
Baseball gets its own World Cup
12 May 05 |  US Sport
Baseball fixtures/results
13 Oct 05 |  Baseball
Baseball - the basics
24 Mar 04 |  US Sport
Baseball jargonbuster
24 Mar 04 |  US Sport


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