Coronavirus Impacting Japanese and Korean Baseball Leagues

Coronavirus Impacting Japanese and Korean Baseball Leagues

With all of the concerns around the world regarding the coronavirus, it was inevitable that it would eventually have an impact on sporting events. That is now the case in Asia’s two most notable baseball leagues.

The situation is dire in South Korea as it has seen the most cases of infection outside of China. As a result, the Korean Baseball organization has announced that all 50 pre-season games have been canceled. This is the first time that the KBO has “had to cancel an entire schedule of exhibition games since its inception in 1982,” according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. The start of the regular season, which is scheduled to begin on March 28th, is also in question as the virus shows no signs of subsiding.

Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball has also taken action, but with a slightly different approach. The exhibition games will take place but in empty stadiums. The NPB’s regular season is set to begin on March 20th, but no official decision has yet to be made.

“This was a bitter decision to make,” NPB commissioner Atsushi Saito said. “Because we can’t determine the situation, I won’t say anything right now about [opening day]. If possible, we all want to go ahead on March 20.”

Tokyo is scheduled to host the Olympics in July, but that is also uncertain at this point.

MLB Closely Monitoring Virus

As concerns have mounted in the United States regarding the coronavirus, Major League Baseball has been closely monitoring the situation. According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, MLB has been “consulting with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Dept. of Health and Human Services and providing recommendations from the CDC to players and teams.”

The last in-season delay that Major League Baseball experienced was after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Games were postponed until resuming play on September 17th.

The last health scare similar to the coronavirus that entered the United States was the Spanish Influenza of 1918-19. That pandemic caused the cancellation of the 1919 Stanley Cup Final after five games. It was the only season in NHL history in which the Stanley Cup was not awarded after the playoffs had started.

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