Coronavirus leads OWL to cancel events for March, April

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Activision Blizzard Esports has canceled all remaining Overwatch League events in March and April amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the developer announced Wednesday.

“The health and safety of employees, fans, players, teams, and partners is paramount to Activision Blizzard Esports,” the league said in a statement. “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.

“Concurrently, we are working hand-in-hand with our teams to see that all matches are played when it’s safe and logistically feasible, staying as close to our originally planned schedule as possible. We are considering the various options available to esports in this effort, so that all teams — including those previously impacted by scheduling changes in China — can get back to doing what they do best.”

The homestands affected by the announcement are:

  • Florida Mayhem, March 13-14

  • Atlanta Reign, March 21-22

  • London Spitfire, March 28-29

  • San Francisco Shock, March 28-29

  • Dallas Fuel, April 4-5 and April 24-25

  • Washington Justice, April 4-5

  • Paris Eterna, April 11-12

  • Los Angeles Valiant, April 18-19

  • Toronto Defiant, April 18-19

  • Boston Uprising April 25-26

The news comes after the league canceled a number of homestands scheduled for February, March and April in China and South Korea.

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Activision Blizzard Esports CEO and Overwatch League commissioner Pete Vlastelica clarified that although the events were canceled, matches would go on and that the league “will have to move a few things around in the schedule to make this work.”

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, in December, was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday. More than 118,000 people have been infected globally, with more than 4,291 deaths, according to the WHO. Of those cases, 80,000 have appeared in China.

Gaming and esports events have continued to be canceled or postponed, or have barred a live audience from attending. On Wednesday, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June was canceled. Other events, such as the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational, Game Developers Conference and South by Southwest conference, have also been impacted.

In January, the Overwatch League began its third season, one that would see it travel across the world each week in a new homestand model. The league features 13 teams in North America, two in Europe, four in China and one in South Korea.

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