President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Politics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash To empower parents, reinvent schools MORE is scheduled to attend a rare exhibition baseball game between American and Cuban teams when he visits the island later this month, the White House said Tuesday.
The president will watch Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays play against the Cuban national team on March 22 in Havana.
“Americans and Cubans share a love of baseball, and this is yet another powerful reminder of the kinship between our peoples as well as the progress we can achieve when we leverage those natural ties,” a White House official said in a statement.
The long-planned game was announced Tuesday by MLB. The news of Obama's attendance was first reported by ESPN.
It’s the first visit to Cuba by a major league team since 1999, when the Baltimore Orioles faced off against the national team.
“During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba's storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
The game comes just over a year after Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the two former Cold War foes would pursue normalized relations. The U.S. and Cuba reopened long-shuttered embassies in each others' capitals last summer.
Obama announced last month he would make a a historic visit to the island nation to cement the country’s open policy toward Cuba before he leaves office.
The president is expected to meet one-on-one with Castro and also sit down with political dissidents, who continue to suffer from oppression under Cuba's communist government.
But on the day the trip was announced, Obama telegraphed it wouldn’t be all business.
"It will be fun when we go," the president told reporters then when asked about the visit.