The ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series. On Thursday, Little League International announced this summer's 75th annual Little League World Series, as well as all regional events, will not be played as scheduled. It is the first time in the organization's history the Little League World Series, which is held annually in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has been canceled.
"This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events," Little League president and CEO Stephen Keener said in a statement. "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, and with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as the their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we've hosted them for nearly 75 years."
Little League International cites travel restrictions, the inability to play qualifying tournaments, and significant "testing and mitigation protocols" that would need to be in place as reasons for the Little League World Series cancellation. The 2020 Little League Classic, which was scheduled to feature the Red Sox and Orioles on August 23 in Williamsport, has also been canceled.
"Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus," Little League board of directors chairman Hugh Tanner said in a statement. "While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021."
Affiliation fees paid by charter programs for the 2020 season will be credited for future use, according to Little League International. That is roughly $1.2 million in financial support for local teams. Our Katherine Acquavella wrote about the pandemic's impact on youth baseball earlier this week.