Major League Baseball has canceled its planned return this summer to London, marking the latest sports event casualty of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The league intended to bring the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals to London Stadium for a two-game series on June 13-14. But as the public health crisis has continued to grow and the MLB has already called off other planned special-event games in Mexico and Puerto Rico for this season, a similar move for the Mitel-sponsored London games was all but inevitable.
“The decision has been taken in line with the UK Government’s actions stopping public gatherings and the need to focus emergency services resources on combating the pandemic,” said MLB in an e-mail sent to ticket holders for the event, who will now be refunded. “While we understand that this news is disappointing, we are faced with an unprecedented situation worldwide and nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans.”
MLB’s effort to bring games to England, which began last year with a series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, is a key part of much-larger ambitions for the league in Europe. The initial Yankees-Red Sox games provided a sizable economic boost in London, and were generally well regarded.
A new intended date for the next set of MLB games in London has been identified, not surprising given the continued uncertainty around the pandemic.
MLB, like all other major US pro and college sports properties, remains on hold and is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising against staging large gatherings until at least mid-May.