MLB will delay opening day by at least two weeks, spring training canceled due to coronavirus

Key Points
  • The MLB said it would delay opening day by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus.
  • Spring training games have also been canceled.
Minute Maid Park on September 10, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey | Getty Images

Major League Baseball will delay opening day games and cancel spring training games due to the coronavirus, the league announced Thursday.

MLB will delay opening day games by at least two weeks, the league said in a statement. Opening day was originally scheduled for March 26.

"This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and our millions of loyal fans," the statement said. 

The MLB is the fourth U.S. professional sports organization to halt its games due to the coronavirus, following the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer. The league also announced the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Arizona is "postponed indefinitely."

"Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans," the league's statement said. "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 MLB said commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision after consulting with players and all 30 teams. Earlier Thursday, the National Hockey League "paused" its season, and Major League Soccer followed with a 30-day suspension of games. On Wednesday, the National Basketball Association suspended its regular season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. 

The NBA said it learned the unidentified Utah player tested positive shortly before the Oklahoma City Thunder was set to host the Jazz on Wednesday, a game that was postponed close to tipoff. 

Multiple NCAA Division I schools also canceled travel for athletic programs; hence, pulling out of the NCAA events including basketball and wrestling tournaments.

According to the World Health Organization, which on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, there are at least 120,000 global cases of coronavirus. More than 1,300 of those have been reported in the U.S, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

NCAA March Madness basketball games will be played without fans