As the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus pandemic grows, the National Hockey League announced Thursday afternoon that they would pause the 2019-2020 season beginning with tonight's games, according to a statement posted to the league's official Twitter account. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball said it would suspend spring training in Florida and Arizona as well as delay opening day by two weeks, The Los Angeles Times reported.
According to a statement from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the decision to pause the season came after the league consulted with medical experts about the novel coronavirus outbreak, known as COVID-19.
"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary mesures. However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus - and given our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems like that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point - it is no longer appropriate to try and continue to play games at this time."
The league had around 189 games left to play in the season. It's unclear what the suspension will mean for the rest of the season or playoffs.
"We wil continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL Community to take all reasonable precautions - including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup," sad Bettman.
"Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy," the statement added.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball joined the chorus of cancellations as they decided to "suspend baseball operations indefinitely" thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The the Los Angeles Times reported that the league was canceling spring training in Arizona and Florida, and would be pushing the season back til further notice. The official announcement is expected Thursday afternoon after a conference call with team owners.
Other major sports leagues, including Major League Soccer and the ATP Tour, also announced they would be canceling or suspending their seasons amid the growing pandemic.
Several collegiate conferences also announced they were canceling their tournaments:
- Big Ten
- Big 12
- American Athletic Conference
- Big East
- Conference USA
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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