COVID-19 impacts collegiate, professional sports

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COVID-19, more colloquially known as the coronavirus, has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, or WHO, and has impacted Cal Athletics, intercollegiate competition and professional sports leagues.

Cal Athletics and new cancellations
After initially stating that all sporting events would proceed as planned with minimal spectators, Cal Athletics announced Thursday morning that all athletic events would be canceled until further notice.

“To help protect at-risk populations and lessen the spread of the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, all Cal Athletics events are canceled until further notice,” Cal Athletics said in a press release.

For the time being, all winter and spring sports which have not finished their seasons will cease operation. These teams include: men’s basketball, baseball, softball, rugby, swim and dive, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, beach volleyball, golf, gymnastics, rowing and women’s water polo.

“The decision impacts all regular-season events – both conference and non-conference contests – as well as all Pac-12 postseason championships. Cal will apply this guidance for all sports, including those that do not compete in the Pac-12,” the Cal Athletics statement said.

Cal fans who purchased tickets to sporting events without spectators have the option of exchanging their tickets, requesting a refund or donating tickets to nonprofit organizations of the ticketholder’s choice.

The Pac-12, the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics
This press release comes on the heels of the Pac-12 conference announcing that it would suspend all sport competitions and championship events until further notice.

“This decision has been made in consultation with our member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend Pac-12 events,” the Pac-12 statement said.

This cancellation of events includes the ongoing Pac-12 men’s basketball championship that recently bore witness to Cal’s upset victory over Stanford.

The Pac-12 was not the only conference to cancel their end-of-season basketball tournament, as the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC and others followed suit.

The NCAA released a statement Wednesday night cancelling all remaining winter and spring championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball championships, also known as March Madness, the NCAA Division I men’s swimming and diving championships and the College World Series.

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

Collegiate athletics are not the only impacted sporting events. The San Fransisco Shock, a team in the Overwatch League, had its March 28 and 29 Berkeley homestand festival Shock Fest canceled.

“We are continuing to closely monitor COVID-19 (coronavirus), city-level recommendations and mandates, and all guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After careful review and working in close collaboration with our teams, we are canceling all Overwatch League events scheduled for March and April,” said Blizzard Entertainment in a statement.

Professional sports
On a professional level, multiple major sports leagues, including the NBA, MLB, MLS and NHL have all ceased or delayed operations. The NBA suspended games indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the NBA said in a statement.

The NFL, the only major sports league that has yet to release a statement, is currently discussing its approach to the upcoming 2020 NFL draft currently slated to take place April 23-25. Several NFL teams have already adjusted their scouting and pre-draft travel plans.

As of press time, it is reported that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will not be canceled or postponed, although there is mounting international pressure for a transparent plan to be put forth by the International Olympic Committee.

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