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Little League World Series canceled for the first time because of COVID-19

Players from Eastback, La., celebrate after winning the 2019 Little League World Series championship game in South Williamsport, Pa.
Players from Eastback, La., celebrate after winning the 2019 Little League World Series championship game in South Williamsport, Pa.
(Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)

Little League baseball canceled its 2020 World Series tournaments and regional qualifying events Thursday because of health concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak. However, Little League Chief Executive Stephen Keener said local leagues can begin play after May 11 and hold district all-star tournaments as long as they adhere to local and state guidelines.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamed of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events,” Keener said. “After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now ... it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years.”

The Little League Baseball World Series was scheduled to take place Aug. 20-30 in South Williamsport, Pa. Keener said the decision to cancel all seven baseball and softball World Series for various age groups was made after direction from officials in Pennsylvania and the locations of the organization’s other World Series tournaments.

“The travel restrictions, and the immigration issues, the impossibilities of bringing large groups of people together, those are primary reasons we’ve decided to cancel,” Keener said during a video on the Little League Facebook page Thursday.

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The events are scheduled to return in 2021.

Keener added that local Little Leagues are encouraged to play as soon as possible after May 11, a date Little League set in March as a target for resumption of play.

“When leagues get to the end of the regular season, we encourage you to hold a district all-star tournament, maybe even sectional and state tournaments,” Keener said on the video. “I’d reiterate that Little League International will help guide you through it.”


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