The 2021 Little League World Series is set to return this August, though there will be changes made due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, after a recommendation from its Pandemic Response Advisory Commission, Little League officials announced the event will take place from August 19-29, but it will only consist of U.S. teams.
Their official statement on their website reads:
"The Little League® Baseball and Softball World Series events will be held, as scheduled, this August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and Greenville, North Carolina (respectively), featuring teams solely from the United States. Based on the recommendation of the 2021 Little League International Pandemic Response Advisory Commission, the Little League International Board of Directors approved a plan that incorporates a series of COVID-19 mitigation measures to host these tournaments in a healthy, responsible environment."
While the event will go on, it will look different and require more health and safety preparation than in years past. A limited number of fans are expected to be able to attend the event, though no official number or crowd percentage has been made public. Coaches are encouraged to get vaccinated and if a vaccine becomes available for the age bracket of the players, they are encouraged to get vaccinated as well.
"Little League puts the health, well-being, and safety of all players and volunteers first, and we are looking forward to hosting the Little League Regional and World Series tournaments with that aim this summer," said Dr. Daniel Lueders, the Commission Chair for the Little League International Board of Directors and UPMC Sports Medicine Physician and Assistant Professor.
"The Commission's recommendations reflect the most current CDC protocols, as well as direct input from state and local public health authorities. The advice of the leading public health, pediatric medicine, epidemiology, mental health, and operations experts on the Commission prioritize the health and safety of the players, volunteers, family, and fans above all else."
Lueders added, "We are confident that the implementation of these recommendations by Little League International will permit a safe and successful competition this summer and preserve the spirit and the experiences that make those events so special."
Last year, the Little League World Series had to be cancelled for the first time because of the pandemic. This year will be the first time since 1956 that there will be no international teams competing.
The cancelation was not only a miss for the fans and participants, but also for the cities that benefit from the event being held in their area, with reported losses up to $40 million.