WSOP: Coronavirus Likely to Change Tournament’s Plans
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WSOP: Coronavirus Likely to Change Tournament’s Plans

WSOP: Coronavirus Likely to Change Tournament’s Plans

The rapid spread of the coronavirus leading to changes in events related to the World Series of Poker, but thus far is not yet scheduled to impact the main tournament.  

COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, has now infected more than 118,000 people over 114 countries. A total of 4,291 deaths have been confirmed so far.

Vice president of corporate communications for the WSOP Seth Palansky said last week that the main event was still going ahead, but additional recent statements suggest that certain preliminary events have been changed or will be exclusively online.  

The comments were made via email and published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal on March 5. More recently, the WSOP confirmed that WSOP Circuit Events in cities across the world have been canceled or postponed, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. This is due to the global outlook on the virus changing rapidly in the last few days. 

The news that more than a dozen Las Vegas properties and many shows are shutting down this week will likely bring more grim news to the local economy, even while the WSOP tries to save the main event. 

The WSOP draws thousands of entrants from across the world each year, with 2019’s German winner Hossein Ensan topping a field of 8,569 players in the Main Event. He won a grand total of $10 million. 

This year’s tournament remains scheduled for May 26 to July 15 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas; the WSOP has made no mention of canceling or postponing it. But Circuit events already begun in Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Rozvadov, Czech Republic, have all been suspended

Circuit events also due to take place in Las Vegas, Cherokee, North Carolina, and Cannes, France have been indefinitely postponed, as countries introduce tougher travel restrictions and governments require organizations to cancel large-scale events to prevent the virus from spreading. While some of the tournament was set to take place in the form of online poker already, the majority was to be played at the Vegas casino.

The NBA suspended its season on Wednesday after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for coronavirus. Center Rudy Gobert had just recently downplayed the virus risks and has since apologized for his comments. Fellow player Donovan Mitchell also tested positive.

Meanwhile, Tom Hanks and his wife have tested positive while waiting to begin the production of a film in Australia. Hanks, 63, was tested after feeling tired and complaining of body aches and feverishness.

In a statement, he said, “Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers, too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive.”

He added that he and his wife will be tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. And just today, actor Idris Elba tested positive for the virus as well. 

Italy, considered one of the most badly-affected countries, is now in complete lockdown as deaths from the coronavirus continue to soar, as are Spain and France. All commercial enterprises in Italy that are not vital, such as eateries, bars, and beauty salons, have now closed to limit the contagion. The country reported another 2,300 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 12,000 cases with 827 deaths.

Back in the US, since Donald Trump’s address to the public last week, stock markets have fallen heavily and are predicted to take a dramatic toll on the global economy. Shares in stock markets across the world have dropped in the double-digit percentages, with Monday seeing the largest drop in the US stock markets since 1987. 

Speaking from the White House last Friday, Mr Trump declared a “national emergency” and has suspended travel from Europe as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for 30 days. In addition, he said today that people should stay at home whenever they can. School districts across the country have shut down, and governors of individual states are ordering bars and restaurants to close for at least two weeks.

Trump has also said health insurance companies had agreed to extend insurance to cover coronavirus treatments, though that was later changed to testing only. 

Trump is expected to announce emergency action to provide financial relief for workers who fall ill or need to be quarantined in the coming days. Britain has said it would spend more than $30 billion doing the same, while central banks are cutting interest rates.

Recent moves are sure to have the WSOP reconsidering, with a large percentage of players coming from the 44 countries that make up Europe. It seems all poker player’s eyes will now be on the WSOP’s next move, which is likely to postpone the event until the virus diminishes. For now, video poker may have to do.

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