Coronavirus: MLB Opening Day delayed at least two weeks; spring training games in Florida, Arizona canceled


Major League Baseball will suspend operations for the next four weeks, including spring training and the first two weeks of the regular season in response to the spread of coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. The MLB season was originally set to start March 26, but Opening Day will now occur no earlier than April 9. MLB is the fourth major American pro sports league to suspend its season due to COVID-19, joining the NBA, NHL and MLS. 

The decision comes after the league’s owners discussed plans on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

MLB said it would cease operations at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Spring training games were played as scheduled in Florida on Thursday afternoon with fans in attendance.

Here’s the full statement:

Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.  This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans. 

MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season.  Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days.  As of 4:00 p.m. (ET) today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.

MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule.  MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans.  MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts.  We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.

The National Basketball Association was the first of the major American leagues to act, suspending its season on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the start of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, CBS News reports. 

CBS News has the latest updates about the virus, which has affected various sports globally and in the United States and has at present caused more than 4,000 fatalities worldwide. Here at CBS Sports we have a running updates on how sports leagues are responding to coronavirus. 





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