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MLB Cancels Spring Training, Pushes Opening Day Back At Least Two Weeks

BOSTON (CBS) -- On the heels of the NBA and the NHL suspending their seasons amid coronavirus concerns, MLB has joined the program.

Major League Baseball will be canceling the rest of spring training and then pushing back the start to the regular season for at least two weeks "due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic."

World Baseball Classic qualifying games have also been canceled.

The news came as no surprise, though it was slightly delayed, as MLB held spring training games on Thursday. Earlier in the day, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that Major League Baseball was likely to shut down spring training, as the nation grapples with the spread of COVID-19.

The sports world has been reacting quickly as concerns regarding the pandemic have grown. The NCAA announced that March Madness would be held without fans in attendance, hours before the NBA suspended its season. On Thursday morning, MLS announced that it had suspended its season as well.

Despite the major NBA news, and despite the crowd restrictions that were set to face Seattle in the regular season, MLB made no changes on Wednesday night before ultimately reaching the decision on Thursday.

"Nothing is more important to us than the health and safetey of our players, employees and fans," MLB's statement read. "MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus."

The Boston Red Sox released a statement on Thursday afternoon.

"The health and safety of our fans, players, and employees is of paramount importance. We thank them for their patience and support during this unprecedented time," the statement said. "We support Major League Baseball's decision to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season. Effective immediately, all Fenway Park and JetBlue Park tours and events are suspended until further notice. We hope our fans and everyone across the country remain safe as we all work together through this challenging time."

MLB's regular season had been scheduled to begin on March 26. Like the rest of pro sports, MLB can't at this time foresee when exactly the season might end up beginning.

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