Little League International, which announced the move Thursday, also canceled regional and championship tournaments in other Little League divisions, including softball, but said the event would return in 2021.
However, the organization has not canceled the regular 2020 season. Little League President Stephen Keener said there was reason for optimism that the team could play this spring and summer, depending on restrictions in the state and venue.
The Little League World Series has been played every year since the first tournament in 1947. Next year is the tournament’s 75th match; That milestone has been pushed back to 2022.
Keener announced the cancellation in a live broadcast on Thursday afternoon from league headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, saying that it was “impossible” to hold events amid ongoing restrictions on major meetings and trips.
“Let me tell the people in all those communities and all the sites where we have regional qualification tournaments how disappointed we have to do this, but that is inevitable,” Keener said. “It is irresponsible and impossible to bring teams and thousands of people from around the world into the Williamsport community and the six other communities that have been our friends and supporters for years.”
Keener added that travel restrictions would make it almost impossible to hold qualifying tournaments for international teams and bring the teams safely to the United States.
Little League announced in March that the season was being postponed until at least 11 May due to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of meeting 50 or more people. After that date, said Keener, districts and leagues should seek guidance for the state and locality when or if the season can continue.
He also urged the district to hold an all-star tournament to give the children at least the sense of competition they would miss with the World Series qualification being abolished.
“We would very much agree with the (change) eligibility requirements and be very flexible to allow as many children to play as much as possible for whatever is left of the Little League 2020 season,” he said.
Little League International also said it would credit its rental program with $ 1.2 million in affiliate fees against current or future balances.
Along with the Little League World Series, which was held at South Williamsport, other events that were canceled were the World Series of Little League Softball in Greenville, North Carolina; Intermediate (50/70) Baseball in Livermore, California; Junior League Baseball in Taylor, Michigan; Junior Softball League in Kirkland, Washington; Senior Baseball League in Easley, South Carolina; and the Senior Softball League in Sussex County, Delaware.
“While the cancellation of the Little League 2020 World Series is very disappointing, the health and safety of everyone involved must be a major consideration. We look forward to our return to Williamsport for the 2021 MLB Little League Classic,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Information from The Associated Press is used in this report.
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