(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Start MLB-season delayed; Spring Training-games cancelled; WBC Qualifiers & Americas Olympic Qualifier postponed
NEW YORK CITY, New York / PHOENIX, Arizona (USA) / LAUSANNE (Switzerland) -
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Thursday-afternoon (March 12) (Thursday-evening, Dutch time) that the start of the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks and the Spring Training-games have been suspended.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced on Thursday that the Americas Olympic Qualifier also was postponed.
MLB issued the following statement on Thursday:
,,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 p.m. ET today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Ariz., 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.''
On Wednesday, it already was announced that the first seven home-games of Seattle Mariners had to be cancelled due to new guidelines for the State of Washington.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced on Thursday that the WBSC Americas Olympic Qualfier has been postponed.
The event was scheduled for March 22-26 in Surprise and Tempe, both in Arizona.
A new date has not yet been announced.
The WBSC issued the following statement:
,,The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), together with host USA Baseball, today announced the postponing of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualification Event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 due to player, personnel and spectator health and safety measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus.
The Americas qualifier was set to place in Surprise and Tempe, Arizona, from 22-26 March.
After consulting with medical and governmental authorities, a joint decision by the WBSC and the Local Organising Committee was taken to postpone the event.
New dates for the America’s Qualifier in Arizona will be announced in due course.
The eight national teams set to compete in the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier include host USA, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
The winner from the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier will earn a berth into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while the second- and third-place finishers will have a second chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the Final Qualifier in Taichung and Douliu, TPE, which has been rescheduled from 1-5 April to 17-21 June due to the coronavirus.
The winner of the Final qualifier will earn the sixth and final berth into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament.
Four nations have already qualified for baseball at the 2020 Olympics: host Japan, Israel, Korea and Mexico.''
In Tucson, Arizona, two World Baseball Classic Qualifiers were scheduled to be played.
In the first Qualifier, to be played March 13-18, Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan and South Africa were to participate.
The second Qualifier was scheduled March 20-25 with the participation of the Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, the Philippines and Spain.
Games cancelled for Giants, Mariners. (March 11)
Final Olympic Qualifier moved to June due to coronavirus. (March 2)