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Baseball's 2020 Little League World Series called off

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Washington (AFP)

The Little League World Series, a global youth baseball championship for pre-teen children, will not be contested in 2020, organizers said, citing issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Little League International, which offers 6,500 community-based programs in 84 nations, announced Thursday the unprecedented decision to cancel all regional tournaments and the 16-team finals that were scheduled for August in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

"This is a heartbreaking decision," said Little League president Stephen D. Keener. "After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now... it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we've hosted them for nearly 75 years."

Tokyo teams have won five of the past 10 World Series titles with another going to a squad from Seoul in 2014. US clubs have won three of the past four titles, including Louisiana's victory over Curacao in last year's final.

Among the issues that doomed the 2020 edition of the event were the inability to play regional qualifying events in many areas, global travel restrictions and the testing and safety issues that would be necessary to stage the tournaments safely.

"As our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus," Little League board of directors chairman Hugh Tanner said.

The decision also wipes out plans for a Major League Baseball contest that had been set for August 23 at the event between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. MLB plans to stage a similar contest at the 2021 Little League World Series.

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