Only days after announcing that they would be conducting health screenings for attendees at IEM Katowice, ESL has announced that they have been forced to bar attendance at the event.
“It breaks our heart that, today at 19:45 CET we were informed that, due to the dynamic changes in the global health situation, the Masters Championship at IEM Katowice 2020 has been closed to the public by the Polish Gouverneur of Silesia hours before its door opening,“ ESL said in their announcement.
This was done despite there being no outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) within Polish borders and appears to have been a last-minute decision. ESL says that they had approval and had been being given periodic updates up until this decision was made earlier today, sending shockwaves across the Counter-Strike and Starcraft communities.
“For the first time ever, the legendary Spodek arena will not be echoing with your chants and cheers,” ESL continued. “In the spirit of esports, we will still broadcast the tournament as planned on online and TV channels.”
The situation with COVID-19 continues to affect esports in ways both drastic and surprising. This is one of the largest moves seen in esports to protect fans in Europe but is not unprecedented thus far the world over.
The LCK has barred live audiences from attending matches at LOL Park, with the LJL announcing they would be following suit. Meanwhile, matches in the Asian region of the Overwatch League have been outright canceled, though these were set to take place in China and Korea, two hotbeds of the Coronavirus outbreak. The LPL has also postponed all matches and is set to stream scrims to pass the time.
ESL says that they will be offering refunds to fans, and shipping goodie bags to fans for free if their ticket included one. There has not been word if ESL plans to help refund travel arrangements made by fans who traveled to Katowice. Inven Global has reached out to ESL for comment.