Baseball season start delayed eight weeks: MLB

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season will be pushed back by at least eight weeks following new advice from public health authorities to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the MLB said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Sunday sporting events and other large gathering involving more than 50 people should be cancelled or postponed for the next eight weeks.

The guidelines effectively leave major sport in the United States facing a two-month lockdown as authorities battle to curb the spread of COVID-19.

MLB said in a statement the decision to heed the CDC advice and delay the start of the season -- which had been due to get under way on March 26 -- had been taken after a conference call between league commissioner Rob Manfred and all 30 MLB teams early on Monday.

"Following last night's newly updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, the opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance," the MLB said.

"MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead. The Clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins.

"We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit."

With the season not now starting until mid-May at the earliest, the MLB is now expected to issue a revised regular season schedule, slashing the 162-game calendar.

MLB had already announced it was pushing back the start of the season by at least two weeks in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

They had also cancelled all spring training games.

On Friday, players on teams' 40-man rosters were told they could choose to stay at their team's training facility, travel to their team's home city or go to their off-season homes.