NHL, MLB, and MLS suspend games due to COVID-19

Hockey net. © Can Stock Photo / bradcalkins

More sports leagues are following the lead of the NBA and suspending games to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The NHL announced Thursday afternoon that it is suspending game action, effective immediately. The decision came the day after the NBA put its season on hiatus following the positive COVID-19 test of player Rudy Gobert. Major League Soccer then announced that it was suspending games for 30 days.

“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 measures,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement released Thursday. “However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some members of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to continue to play games at this time.”

Following the NHL’s announcement, the Canadian Hockey League announced that it would also be suspending game action.

“The Canadian Hockey League and its three regional leagues, the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, take the health and safety of our players, fans, volunteers, staff, and general public very seriously,” the statement said. “CHL President Dan MacKenzie with Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have been monitoring the situation in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) including what local, provincial, and federal health agencies have recommended. Following consultation with medical professionals and meetings today among the CHL Executive Council, and regional league Board of Governors, the CHL announces that the balance of the 2019-20 season and all hockey activity shall be paused immediately until further notice.”

Major League Baseball issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, saying that spring training games are being cancelled and the opening of the regular season will be delayed by at least two weeks.

“MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible,” the league said in the statement. “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

The NCAA said the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments have been cancelled along with all other remaining winter and spring championships.

As well, the National Basketball League of Canada announced Thursday afternoon that it has postponed the 2019-2020 season indefinitely, along with all other league operations.

NASCAR issued a statement Thursday saying at least two future race events will be held without fans.

“At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race. We will work with public health officials as we determine future scheduling beyond these events.”