MLB to Delay Start of Season Due to Coronavirus Fears

Coronavirus fears continued to take its toll on the sports world Thursday as several sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, announced the suspension of on-the-field play. 

MLB said it will postpone the remainder of its spring training season and delay the start of the season for at least two weeks, according to a league statement. “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,” the league stated.

The MLB announcement came shortly after the National Hockey League said it would suspend the remainder of its regular season. "In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight's games," the league said in a statement.

Major League Soccer will suspend match play for 30 days “as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials,” according from a statement from the league.

The NCAA late Thursday cancelled its March Madness men’s and women’s college basketball tournament. The move came after several major college conferences such as the AAC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Atlantic 10 canceled their respective league basketball tournaments amid growing concern over the coronavirus.

"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities," said the NCAA statement. 

The postponements come on the heels of the NBA’s decision Wednesday to suspend its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. A second team player, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive on Thursday.

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R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.