WILLIAMSPORT, Pennsylvania (KTRE) - The Little League Baseball and Softball World Series are returning this year after COVID-19 canceled the 2020 events.
There will be changes to the format of both. There will be no international teams. For baseball there will be a 16-team bracket with the top 2 teams from each of the eight U.S. regions advancing to Williamsport. For softball there will be two teams from each of the five U.S. Regions and no host team this year.
“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, Commission Chair, Little League International Board of Directors Member, 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. 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.”
According to a Little League release, all players and coaches will undergo COVID-19 testing prior to and upon arrival at their tournament location and will have significantly limited contact from other individuals until negative tests can be confirmed. Unvaccinated participants will also receive regular COVID-19 tests throughout the tournament. Testing will be provided at no-cost to the teams.
“Coaches and managers are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, and, should a vaccine be available for age-appropriate players, vaccination would be also recommended for players if appropriate, but not required,” the release stated.
When it comes to fans Lamade and Volunteer Stadium will look different for the return of the LLWS. Spectator attendance will be restricted at both the Region and World Series tournaments. Accommodations will be made for family members and a limited number of individuals associated with the participating teams. Little League is strongly strongly encouraging those that do attend to be vaccinated and they may be subject to additional screening measures to be announced at a later date.
These will be the only World Series tournaments taking place with Intermediate (50/70) Baseball, Junior League Baseball, Junior League Softball, Senior League Baseball, and Senior League Softball all ending at state level tournaments.