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League of Legends, CS:GO events in China canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

Two Chinese events have been postponed

2017 World Championship Group Stage at Wuhan Sports Center Gymnasium in Wuhan, Hubei, China on 8 October 2017 Photo: Riot Games
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Two esports events in China have been canceled following the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan City.

The League of Legends Pro League (LPL) has postponed week two of its 2020 season until it “can ensure the safety and health of our players and fans.” English commentators Jake “Hysterics” Osypenko, Robert “Dagda” Price, Oisín “Penguin” Molloy, Clement Chu, and Joe “Munchables” Fenny are also leaving the country out of fear of the virus. None of the casters are showing symptoms of the virus, they said.

“We don’t really know the extent of how dangerous it is, but it seems like it could be a lot worse than people are saying, so we’re getting the fuck out of here,” Fenny said in a video posted to Twitter.

Likewise, WESG’s Asia-Pacific finals, scheduled to be held in Macau in February, have been canceled, according to a post on the official Weibo account. Neither WESG nor LPL organizers have announced when the events will be rescheduled. Polygon has reached out to both for more information.

The new coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan City, China late last year. The virus has spread within mainland China, but the majority of the cases remain in China’s Hubei province, in which Wuhan is situated. Fifty-six people have died from the virus, which has been confirmed to be spread from human-to-human contact. It may have originally spread from animals to humans, however. Chinese officials have quarantined the city and its surrounding areas, imposing a major travel ban which restricts movement of “20 million people,” Vox reported.

Though both tournaments are outside of the restricted areas, the travel bans will make it difficult for players and staff attending the event.

Despite the disease spreading in China, it’s not a global health emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, told Vox last week.

Update: A Riot Games representative told Polygon “the team in China is working closely with authorities there and will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.”

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