Escalating concerns over the recent coronavirus outbreak have caused the postponement or cancellation of several esports events in China, including multiple homestands for the upcoming Overwatch League season.

Coronavirus esports Overwatch League
The coronavirus outbreak in China has forced the cancellation of multiple esports competitions. (Image: Getty)

The Overwatch League cancelled homestands throughout February and March in an effort to protect the health of both players and fans.

Overwatch League Won’t Battle Virulent Opponent

China boasts a thriving esports community, making it one of the most important markets for professional leagues in several different games. The Overwatch League is comprised of four Chinese franchises, including the Chengou Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Shanghai Dragons.

Guangzhou was scheduled to host three homestands in in February and March, while Shanghai and Hangzhou had one each.

The Overwatch League said it would determine where and when the impacted matches would take place at a later date.

“We hope fans have a safe and happy Lunar New Year, and we remain incredibly excited to play Overwatch League matches in China later this season,” the league posted on its website.

China’s major League of Legends competitions have also been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Both the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and the League of Legends Development League (LDL) planned to resume on Feb. 3 following the Lunar New Year break. Those plans were scuttled earlier this week due to the growing outbreak.

“We have decided to postpone Week 2 of the LPL until we can ensure the safety and health of our players and fans,” the LPL posted on Twitter. “To our fans, we sincerely apologize that it has come to this, and we will share any and all info as soon as we can.”

WHO Declares Coronavirus Global Public Heath Emergency

Nearly 10,000 people have been diagnosed with the new strain of coronavirus, while more than 200 have died. Most infections and all fatalities have occurred in China, though cases are beginning to appear in a number of countries worldwide, including the United States.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global public health emergency because of the virus on Friday. Meanwhile, the United States issued a travel warning on Thursday, telling American citizens not to travel to China. American Airlines, Delta, and United have all stopped flying to mainland China.

While the relatively low number of cases means that data on the coronavirus is limited, the current virus has so far shown lower fatality rates than other recent, high-profile outbreaks like SARS or MERS, with the WHO saying the majority of cases have been mild.

“Everybody is being cautious because we’re still learning about it, but right now you’re sitting in the midst of an influenza seasonal busy-ness,” Dr David Hooper, chief of the Infection Control Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, told USA Today. “The risk is much higher for influenza for people in the US than this new coronavirus.”