The Czech Extraliga will delay its Opening Day by one week, with the first pitches to be thrown on April 9th. The Czech Baseball Association Technical Committee and representatives of Czech clubs agreed on the schedule after an exception was granted by the Czech National Sport Agency.
Due to the current pandemic, players and umpires will have to be tested before each weekend, venues will not be opened for the public, and the maximum number of people allowed in the parks will be capped at 80. In addition, the parks will have to be separated into different corridors, with hand sanitizing, social distancing and reduced contact during the game being further points of emphasis.
Despite the restrictions, Petr Ditrich, President of the Czech Baseball Association, is pleased with the situation, especially with the 2021 European Championship in September on the horizon. “We are very happy that we received an exception from the National Sport Agency. It was crucial for us to start our highest league as soon as possible due to the key national team season and the important 2021 European championships. We realize that the most important practice in baseball are games. We will fully comply with all regulations and hygiene measures, baseball is an outdoor sport and we believe that the situation will soon improve. We can’t wait for our opening day.”
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the schedules of the other major European leagues. The German Bundesliga will start the season with a two-tiered schedule, with the clubs in the southern division starting play on Apr. 1, as originally planned, and playing a 28-game season against division rivals. The northern clubs, on the other hand, will start play on May 8 and only play a 14-game regular season.
In Italy, the season was postponed indefinitely on Mar. 25, with no indication given of when games will start, and in the Netherlands, the Hoofdklasse’s start has been postponed by three weeks, with games now scheduled to start Apr. 29.
In comparison, the Extraliga’s one-week delay is a relatively minor inconvenience. The league’s first weekend of action will get started with a series of night games on Friday, Apr. 9.
The full schedule can be found at the Extraliga’s homepage.