I was quite uninformed about the Coronavirus up until the past week and in the past 2-3 days is where I have really begun to get a clear picture of what is happening, how it will affect us and what the implications are on the 2020 baseball season in Europe. I do not claim to be knowledgeable about it to the point where I feel comfortable telling imports signed to play in Europe how to handle your specific situation, but I am here to advise the best I can within my understanding of the situation. This post is to help bring some clarity on the overall situation and to try and inform those who are planning to come to Europe for baseball or softball.
I live in Austria, smack-dead in the center of Europe and right above Italy which is the next most affected country in the world next to China and perhaps Iran. The Coronavirus continues to double approximately every two days here (stats as of March 12), and it has become very apparent that the baseball seasons across Europe will be delayed at least through mid-April.
Here are some facts I found about the virus and some clarity on the situation here:
- Cases in many European countries are quickly escalating. Everything is on shut down, borders are almost all closed. This is in order to slow the spread and ease the strain on health care systems so those who are the most vulnerable can get the care they need.
- Most seasons have been pushed until at least late April, which will surely not be a reasonable target. The common understanding is that we will not be on a baseball field until at LEAST mid-May with a strong possibility that seasons won’t begin until June or even July.
- The weather in Europe would permit for a four month season starting the beginning of July and running through October.
- Americans are no longer able to travel to the U.S. from Europe at this time. Travel bans are getting more strict by the day across Europe.
Here are some measures clubs are taking regarding imports:
- The purchase of plane tickets for imports are being postponed.
- Clubs are having imports with plane tickets already purchased postpone their flights. According to this article , many airlines are allowing postponements up to a year from the date of purchase.
My thoughts are, based on China’s data, that we could be on the ball field by mid-May. However, since the US government slept on this for three weeks, it could be longer before the virus dies off in the U.S. Therefore until the U.S. is reporting safe numbers, they will not be permitted to come to Europe. This Coronavirus page with stats from around the globe is a good way to see when countries start to plateau like China has and therefore anticipate when things will begin to resume in that country. Click on the country name to see the growth chart. As you can see, China has plateaued where others are still spiking.
Winter ball should be a go starting in September/October and recruitment for that starts in April with the majority of signings happening in June, July and August.
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