UPDATE: Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced in a press conference Friday that individual little leagues and other kids’ athletic leagues should not resume play if they are in the yellow phase of reopening in Pennsylvania.
WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The idea that there could be a Little League World Series in 2020 has struck out.
For the first time in its 75-year history, the organization has canceled its biggest event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“After consultation with the Secretary of Health, here in Pennsylvania, certainly our governor, and public health officials in about 10 or 12 states where we play regional qualifying tournaments and our six additional World Series, we’ve come to the conclusion based on the recommendations and guidance from them that it will be virtually impossible for us to conduct regional and World Series tournaments in the summer of 2020,” Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, said in a video statement.
“We are formally announcing that we are canceling the Little League Baseball World Series here in Williamsport, Pennsylvania effective today. We’re disappointed as anyone,” Keener said.
According to Keener, travel and immigration restrictions in place to curb the global coronavirus pandemic would have a significant impact on countries being able to participate in the World Series.
The cancelation includes the World Series, which brings tens of thousands of fans to Williamsport every year, as well as 82 regional qualifying tournaments held around the country. Six other World Series events will also be canceled including the Little League Softball World Series.
Some Little League programs in the U.S. may be able to continue as individual states begin to lift social distancing restrictions. Local programs will be able to assess their operations and all chartered prgams will be credited with affiliation fees paid in 2020. This amounts to about $1.2 million in support to the local leagues.
“As your states, and your countries to some extent, begin to re-open and allow activities to be pursued, it’s then and only then we would advise you to restart or begin your 2020 Little League season,” Keener said.
According to the Little League website, international and regional staff will continue to help district and league volunteers as they look towards a possible 2020 season locally.