FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball has officially canceled spring training games and delayed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to the spread of the coronavirus, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced. The decision was announced on Thursday afternoon, following a call with the 30 clubs and consultation with Major League Players Association.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans,” MLB said in a release. “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.”
The MLB regular season was scheduled to begin on March 26. Two weeks from that would be April 9, but the league will continue to assess the situation.
“MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule,” per the release release. “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.”
This falls in line with the rest of the professional and college sports associations, which have been canceling or postponing events throughout the week. Earlier in the day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the recommendation at a news conference to postpone or limit mass gatherings, following other public officials around the country who have done the same.
The Minnesota Twins’ first two series of the regular season in Oakland and Seattle were already going to have to be moved as both areas of the country have been hit hard by the virus.
The NBA suspended regular season play on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. A second player, Donovan Mitchell, has since tested positive. The NHL made the same decision on Thursday, as did MLS. Numerous college sporting events have been canceled, as well.