Coronavirus Update 3/16: 2020 NFL Draft Cancels Public Events; MLB Pushes Opening Day Back to Mid-May
Liga MX postpones operations and Overwatch League restructures schedule to go online
In light of the CDC’s recent announcement to curb the spread of the coronavirus, pro sports leagues are continuing to postpone or cancel their seasons and events. Last week, SVG began posting a regularly updated list of announcements from pro leagues regarding postponed, canceled, or altered sports events. Below are further announcements, made on Monday, March 16. Stay tuned to sportsvideo.org for more information on how the spread of the coronavirus is impacting the sports-production industry.
2020 NFL Draft Cancels Public Events in Las Vegas
Adhering to the developments with coronavirus, the NFL has changed its original plans for the 2020 NFL Draft. In a press release, the league said the following:
In consideration of current information related to COVID-19 and guidance from medical experts such as the CDC, and in coordination with public authorities in Nevada and the City of Las Vegas, the NFL will modify its plans for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The clubs’ selection of players will proceed as scheduled April 23-25. The NFL is exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted and will provide that information as it becomes available. The selection process will be televised.
Public NFL Draft events in Las Vegas next month will not take place.
“This decision reflects our foremost priority: the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” said Commissioner Roger Goodell. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”
MLB Opening Day Pushed Back At Least Eight Weeks
In accordance with the CDC’s latest update, fans of Major League Baseball will have to wait an additional two months for regular-season action. In a statement made by the league, MLB is pushing Opening Day of the 2020 season until at least mid-May. The season was originally pushed back two weeks from when it was originally supposed to begin next week.
Pac-12 Cancels Entire Athletic Calendar, G League Expected To Cancel Season
The Pac-12 Conference issued a press release about the upcoming spring athletic season:
At a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group and Athletic Directors earlier today, the Pac-12 made the decision to cancel all Pac-12 conference and non-conference sport competitions and Pac-12 championships through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year. This decision follows both the Pac-12’s earlier decision to suspend all sports until further notice, and the decision by the NCAA to cancel the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 NCAA basketball tournaments as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.
In addition, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to prohibit all organized team athletically related activities until at least March 29, at which time it will revisit this decision.
In a move that mirrors its parent league, the NBA, the G League season is expected to be canceled. Despite the imminent cancellation, all players are expected to receive their promised salary through the end of the scheduled season.
Multiple Soccer Organizations Postpone Operations
In the midst of many international soccer tournaments and numerous organizations closing their doors for the foreseeable future, Liga MX is following suit by suspending its matches. Prior to this announcement, the top-flight league in Mexico at first wanted to play the rest of its Week 10 fixtures, but the final match of the current season, between Cruz Azul and Club America, was played behind closed doors.
On Thursday, the CONMEBOL Libertadores, the biggest soccer tournament in South America, announced suspension of play beginning Sunday, March 15.
MLS and NWSL, having put their respective seasons on hold, put moratoriums on training sessions. Those restrictions, which were set to expire at the end of the weekend just past, are being extended through the conclusion of the upcoming weekend on Sunday, March 22.
WTA Postpones Upcoming Tournaments
The WTA released a statement about upcoming tournaments in Stuttgart, Istanbul, and Prague:
Due to the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, the WTA tournaments in Stuttgart, Germany; Istanbul; and Prague will not be held as scheduled. We regret this is the case for all of our loyal fans, players, sponsors and all those who support women’s professional tennis.
Overwatch League To Resume Play Online
On the esports front, many leagues are ceasing tournament competitions. On Monday, Overwatch League decided to go ahead with its season online in an effort to make up any missed games that would have taken place in March and April. With this infrastructure in place, the schedule will be back on track by May.
Tokyo Olympics, Kentucky Derby Plan To Move Forward as Planned
Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the IOC will not impose a May deadline to decide the fate of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. According to the IOC, the Games are still on pace to open on July 24.
This year’s Kentucky Derby still has the greenlight for May 2. On Saturday, Churchill Downs announced that is working with local officials to determine the status of the race in the “coming week.”