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MLB and NHL to suspend operations indefinitely over coronavirus

Robert D. Manfred Jr., Commissioner for Major League Baseball, during a press conference prior to the start of the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins regular season game played at Fort Bragg Field on Sunday, July 3, 2016 at Fort Bragg, N.C. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Duhr)
March 12, 2020

Major League Baseball is suspending all operations and delaying the start of the 2020 season by at least two weeks due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The National Hockey League is also stopping mid-season and waiting for an appropriate time to resume league play.

The MLB announced its decision to stop spring training and to delay the start of the baseball season by up to two weeks in a Thursday statement. The MLB’s 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Ariz. has also been suspended indefinitely.

“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,” the MLB statement read.

Talk of the MLB’s season delay came shortly after the  NHL posted its own plan to pause the ongoing professional hockey season.

“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures,” the NHL wrote. “However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”

The NHL’s statement follows the NBA’s decision to pause its own season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, Sports Illustrated reported.

The NHL said it would continue to watch for updates and medical advice and encourage its players to undergo self-quarantine where appropriate. The hockey league is still looking ahead to complete its season and the Stanley Cup finals and said, “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent.”

Other sports leagues and athletic events have adopted policies to avoid gatherings of large numbers of fans, in line with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advice to either cancel events or adopt “social distancing.”

The NCAA has is moving forward with its March Madness basketball tournament, while running the games without audiences in attendance.

The PGA Tour has also planned to continue its golf events without audiences in attendance, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The PGA’s decision is expected to last for around a month.

Congress also decided Thursday to close the U.S. Capitol to the general public in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.