The Little League World Series is back after being called off last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is a catch when it comes to who will be able to see the games live. On Friday, Little League Baseball announced that the games will be closed to the general public due to the ongoing pandemic and the Delta variant. Each team will receive 250 team passes for their friends, families and community members. Additional passes have been committed to high-level volunteers and supporters.
"The health and well-being of our teams and mitigating their exposure to COVID-19 must continue to be our main priority, as we conclude our World Series events," Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO said in a statement. "With updated guidance from the CDC, and in consultation with our Pandemic Response Advisory Commission and medical advisors, we feel it's essential to revert our attendance policy to unfortunately limit the spectators in Williamsport to the family and friends of our 16 participating teams and our highest-level volunteers and supporters.
"We are disappointed that we must rollback our spectators joining us in Williamsport this year, but are eager to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for the 16 teams who will compete in the World Series this summer." Little League Baseball also said that all spectators are encouraged to wear a face maask when on the complex.
"In May, our organization made the decision to move forward with our Little League Baseball and Softball tournaments this summer, with the focus of providing the boys and girls in our program that magical Little League World Series experience while protecting their health and well-being," Dr. Daniel Lueders, Commission Chair, Little League International Board of Directors Member, and UPMC Sports Medicine Physician, said. "As this virus evolves, we must continue to stay vigilant and do everything we can to reduce exposure of COVID-19 to our players and participants. Reducing fans in Williamsport is a disappointing, but necessary, measure we must make to support that effort at this time."
The Little League Baseball World Series starts on Aug. 19 and ends on Aug. 29. Tournaments to qualify for the World Series are going on right now, and the top two teams from eight U.S. region Tournaments will advance to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The championship game will include the winner of the U.S. side of the bracket against the winner of the international side.