Though it was not scheduled to be held for another two months, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has already been postponed to a later, unspecified date. This announcement from Scripps came on Friday and referenced advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the ongoing state of emergency in Maryland.
The bee was scheduled to happen on May 24 in the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. The organization said it would explore options to hold the competition later this year.
As has been the case with competitions all over the globe, one of the biggest problems Scripps faces when trying to reschedule this is not just that their national competition has been postponed, but also that qualifying bees all around the country have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Though the organization limits the bee to students up to eighth grade, a competition set in, for example, the fall would either have to include ninth graders or skip that generation of students entirely.
Of course, there's also the logistical difficulty of finding a venue on that can host 400 spellers and their families. The trouble could extend to how this ends up getting broadcasted, as a rescheduled bee could interfere with ESPN's broadcasting schedule.
Last year's spelling bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie after the bee ran out of words that could stump the finalists. This competition joins some of the world's largest leagues and sports as the latest one to be affected by coronavirus concerns, including all four major sports leagues in the United States, which have been suspended indefinitely.