Coronavirus pushes WWE, NASCAR to alter upcoming events

All major U.S. sports leagues have suspended upcoming events due to the outbreak

WrestleMania 36, the 2020 Kentucky Derby and a slew of upcoming NASCAR races were the latest events affected Monday as the coronavirus pandemic forces U.S. sports and entertainment organizations to change their plans.

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The WWE announced that its flagship event, originally scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, would shift locations and take place without fans in attendance. Instead, the pay-per-view event would take place on a closed set in Orlando with only essential personnel on hand.

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“In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place,” the WWE said in a statement. “However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view.”

NASCAR said that it would postpone all races through March 3 due to concerns related to the coronavirus. The stock car racing circuit noted that it plans to hold all 36 remaining races in its 2020 season at some point in the future.

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“What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together,” NASCAR said in a statement.

The 2020 Kentucky Derby was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 2. However, officials at Churchill Downs have begun informing ticketholders that the event will be postponed until September, Louisville news station WDRB reported, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Churchill Downs said it will make an announcement regarding the race on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. ET. Officials have yet to officially comment on the reported postponement.

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The decisions came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the suspension of all mass gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Earlier Monday, Major League Baseball said it would delay the start of its 2020 season to mid-May at the earliest in order to comply with CDC guidelines. MLB officials had initially announced a delay of two weeks beyond the scheduled start date of March 26.

MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and XFL have all suspended their seasons amid the coronavirus outbreak. The NFL, which is in its offseason, allowed free agency to proceed on Monday but canceled offseason workouts. In addition, the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft will no longer be a public event.

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