Columbus Crew SC released a statement Thursday night in regards to the increased concerns of the Coronavirus spread in Washington state ahead of the team’s Saturday game at the Seattle Sounders. The Crew’s tweet stated:
“Columbus Crew SC, along with Major League Soccer and its Clubs, have been closely monitoring Coronavirus (COVID-19). Major League Soccer’s task force has been monitoring the most recent developments and communicating with MLS clubs regarding appropriate measures to take as the situation continues to evolve. The health and safety of the players, staff and supporters are of the utmost importance.”
“In collaboration with MLS, Crew SC intends to continue with its match preparation, including travel, in advance of Saturday’s road match in Seattle and will be monitoring the situation as it develops. Crew SC and MAPFRE Stadium will continue to work with relevant governmental agencies and the Club’s task force to monitor the situation over the next week ahead of the Club’s scheduled home match.”
As a change of plans, the Crew, who were scheduled to travel to Seattle on Friday after practice, will now train in Columbus to close out the week before chartering into Seattle, returning after the match on Saturday evening.
The Sounders then also released a statement saying the game will, for now, go on as planned:
SEATTLE, WASH. - Seattle Sounders FC’s match versus Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, March 7 is scheduled to take place as planned at CenturyLink Field. As our organization has previously stated, nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans at all Sounders FC events. We are in continuous dialogue with regional health authorities and Major League Soccer, in addition to our network of medical experts. Because of this, we are proceeding with Saturday’s match and Sounders FC is following the updated guidelines that were released on Wednesday by Public Health - Seattle & King County.
Additionally, we are working closely with our colleagues at First & Goal Inc. and CenturyLink Field to provide a safe matchday experience. This effort includes expanded sanitation procedures - encompassing enhanced cleaning treatments to disinfect all areas of the stadium before and after every event - in addition to increased hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue and continued staff education and training. It should also be noted that our club is aware of King County’s recent announcement about a confirmed case of COVID-19 inside CenturyLink Field stemming from an event on February 22. The affected part-time stadium employee did not work any Sounders FC events. In coordination with First & Goal Inc. and Public Health - Seattle & King County, the club is following the regional health authority’s determination that risk to stadium attendees from that employee was low and that no additional precautions are necessary heading into Saturday’s match.
As an added measure of safety in accordance with the new guidelines from Public Health - Seattle & King County, we are advising that the listed at-risk members of the community and any individual who is currently sick refrain from attending Saturday’s contest. This is being done out of an abundance of caution, and members of these groups that already purchased tickets can work with representatives from Sounders FC’s customer service department on exchange options. At this time, there has been no recommendation from Public Health - Seattle & King County to adjust scheduling for sporting events, as is the case with Seattle Public Schools and other community institutions. As this situation remains fluid, the club is in real-time communication with key community stakeholders, and we will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
Coronavirus has been spreading across Washington state with 70 cases reported as of Thursday, up from 39 reported cases on Wednesday. Fifty-one of the 70 confirmed cases are in King County, the county that contains Seattle and where the Sounders play the team’s home games. As of this writing, 11 people have died in King County from COVID-19.
Furthermore, it was reported minutes before the Crew’s statement that a CenturyLink Field worker tested positive for COVID-19. Washington governor Jay Inslee made a statement Thursday morning stating “Folks should start to think about avoiding large events. This would include Sounders home games, after Seattle had 40,126 fans show up for the team’s season-opening game against the Chicago Fire. The CDC has officials in Washington and Vice President Mike Pence will visit the state.
The Crew-Sounders game isn’t the only sporting event affected by COVID-19. The annual Arnold Classic in Columbus, scheduled to take place this weekend, will not hold their kids and teen expos but will allow athletes to travel and compete. There will be limited spectator access for some of the competitions events at the Arnold.
Earlier this week, it was announced that no fans are allowed into stadiums for Italian sporting events until April 3rd. Italy has the most serious outbreak of COVID-19 with over 100 deaths and more than 3,000 cases.
This is an ongoing story and Massive Report will provide more updates as they are made available.