A day after one NHL team saw its schedule affected immensely due to the outbreak of COVID-19, two of Europe’s top pro leagues are shutting down.
Austria’s top league, The Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, and Germany’s DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) both announced they are abruptly ending their respective seasons as the disease continues to ravage parts of Europe.
Despite being in the midst of their quarter-final playoff rounds, the EBEL released the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Erste Bank Eishockey Liga has to end the current season. With this action, the League is responding to the measures and recommendations of the governments and competent authorities in the participating countries,”
In a similar release less than an hour later, the top German league said it will also be axing the rest of its season, including playoffs:
Over 100,000 cases of coronavirus have surfaced worldwide, forcing the entire sporting world to prepare and plan measures to contain the outbreak as we approach an obscenely busy time in the global sports calendar.
Many major professional leagues across North America have begun announcing measures to limit contact between players and media, fans and non-essential team personnel, including the banning of reporters from NHL dressing rooms until further notice.
With international tournament season on the horizon, several IIHF events, most notably the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship which was supposed to be held in Nova Scotia in late March, have been cancelled.
The San Jose Sharks were the first—but surely not the last—NHL club affected by coronavirus concerns, with the team having to make adjustments to three upcoming March home games after Santa Clara County in California issued a cancellation of mass gatherings over 1,000 people, in light of “significantly increasing rates of COVID-19.”
The NHL, and to a lesser extent the Sharks, are reportedly mulling their options over, and playing those home games with no fans in attendance is a very real possibility.
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