Blizzard have cancelled Overwatch League matches scheduled to take place in China in February and March, owing to concerns about the new coronavirus going round. First identified in China in December, the virus has now killed 170 people. A Chinese League Of Legends tournament also recently was cancelled due to the virus. Blizzard say they plan to return OWL to China later this season.
“We have decided to cancel our February and March matches in China in order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and stuff,” Blizzard say in yesterday’s statement. “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.”
Two of China’s four OWL teams, the Shanghai Dragons and Guangzhou Charge, already announced plans to temporarily relocate to South Korea. The Chengdu Hunters are currently staying put, while Hangzhou Spark haven’t announced any plans either way.
The virus, temporarily named 2019-nCoV, was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, in December. At this point, a lot about the new virus is still unknown, so we’re not quite sure how to fight it. It has now spread to all regions of China, and several dozen infections have been confirmed elsewhere around the globe, spread by travel.
Blizzard are far from the only group planning around this, with many countries and companies already taking preventative action. Chinese authorities have placed Wuhan on lockdown. Russia has closed its border with China. British Airways and several other airlines have cancelled flights to China. Britain’s Foreign Office are advising against travelling to mainland China, and organised an evacuation for Britons in Hubei – 200 of whom are facing 14 days in quarantine. That’s only a fraction of what’s going on. The World Health Organisation today convene an emergency meeting to decide whether this constitutes a Public Health Emergency and what should be done.
After seeing a surge in players, the makers of Plague Inc: Evolved have stressed that their virus-spreading strategy game is not a scientific model and shouldn’t be taken seriously.