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Cuba allowed to play in World Baseball Classic

Posted: Friday Jan 20, 2006 11:00 AM
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NEW YORK (AP) - Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, after all.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued a license Friday allowing the Cubans to participate in the 16-team tournament, a government and a baseball official said. The pair spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.

Baseball's first application was denied in mid-December by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, but the commissioner's office and the players' association reapplied after Cuba said it would donate any profits it receives to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. laws aimed at punishing Fidel Castro's communist government prohibit certain commercial transactions with Cuba, generally attempting to deny money.

After the initial rejection, the International Baseball Federation threatened to withdraw its sanction of the tournament if Cuba was not allowed to participate. In addition, Puerto Rico threatened to withdraw as a host.

The tournament, the first in which the world's top players will participate on national teams, runs from March 3-20.