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Annual Little League World Series Carries on Amid Unusual Circumstances

Last year the millions of fans of the annual Little League World Series felt an aching void when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the shadow of that pandemic still hangs over the LLWS, but the annual classic is returning anyway — in a revised form. The Little League World Series

Last year the millions of fans of the annual Little League World Series felt an aching void when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the shadow of that pandemic still hangs over the LLWS, but the annual classic is returning anyway — in a revised form. The Little League World Series is returning to its earliest days this year by having only 16 teams from eight Little League regions the United States compete in the annual classic. This harkens back to the days when the Series was known as the “National Little League Championship,” before international competition became part of the Series in the early 1950s.

Little League officials do not believe that this modification will do anything to reduce the excitement or interest in the Series. Still, unfortunately, it prevents fans and spectators from enjoying the talents of some of the best Little Leaguers in the international regions of Little League.

Officials at Little League are constantly adjusting and tweaking all aspects of the playing of this year’s LLWS.

The one crucial thing that seems to be detailed and codified is the policy for not allowing fans to attend the LLWS due to COVID concerns.

According to the Little League website, “with the recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the United States due to the dangerous Delta variant, and in the interest of all players, coaches, volunteers, and families, Little League® International has made the difficult decision to close the 2021 Little League Baseball® World Series to the general public and cancel its updated public attendance policy and will not distribute 3,000 daily Complex Access Tickets.

“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,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President, and CEO. “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 roll back 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.”

With continued guidance and recommendations from the 2021 Little League International Pandemic Response Advisory Commission, Little League International has continued to follow the COVID-19 mitigation protocols for organizing its Region and World Series Tournament, developed in consultation with its advisors from National Jewish Health, who has worked on similar health safety plans with other youth and young adult-focused organizations, colleges and universities, and events.

“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,” said Dr. Daniel Lueders, Commission Chair, Little League International Board of Directors Member, and UPMC Sports Medicine Physician. “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.”

Despite this fan attendance shocker, officials in the local hospitality business community are still looking forward to the LLWS.

“I am thrilled that there is a Little League Series this year to give the boys and girls a chance at the United States Championship, Miranda Kujawa, General Manager of the Genetti Hotel, told Webb Weekly. “After last year, I am so happy to welcome visitors to our great city and area; I am hoping that guests of our city take time to experience all the great shops, attractions, and restaurants in our area while they are in town. We are hosting DPH pin trading Wednesday 18th -Saturday 21st, and the hotel is selling Genetti pins this year.”

Hold onto your hats. This year’s Little League World Series should prove to be an interesting and exciting one, despite COVID and its negative effect on fan attendance.

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