MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. The Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) has decided to close this season’s playoff series ahead of schedule due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemics, the KHL press service announced on Wednesday.
"In view of the negative trend regarding the epidemiological situation’s developments, the League made a decision to cancel all remaining matches of the 2019/2020 season," the statement from the KHL press service reads.
"A decision regarding the final and overall rankings of the participating clubs, based on their results this season, will be announced at the next meeting of the KHL Board of Directors," the statement continued.
"The [KHL] Board of Directors will also decide at its meeting the clubs’ roster for the 2020/2021 season and will then start its work on the calendar of matches for the next season," the press service added.
Commenting on the decision, KHL President Alexei Morozov said: "Unfortunately, we have to cancel the season ahead of schedule and this was not a very easy decision for us."
"I am sure that all ice hockey fans as well as all of us wanted to see who would win the Gagarin Cup," Morozov continued. "However, under the current circumstances, the health of players, their relatives, clubs’ staff as well as the staff of sports facilities and all ice hockey fans is by far important at the moment."
"There was no time left to put off this decision as all participants of the championship needed certainty about their future plans," the KHL chief stated. "The League had to make a weighty decision explaining the rules of the game."
"I believe that we must exert our efforts to make sure that the current situation has no impact at all on the coming season to see it start on schedule, which will be suitable for all teams and fans, while the calendar of the tournament will remain rhythmic and balanced," Morozov added.
The Kontinental Hockey League was founded in Russia in 2008 and currently lists 24 professional ice hockey clubs from Russia, Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia.
International experts deem the KHL as the premier ice hockey league in Europe and Asia ranking it as the world’s second most important league right on the heels of the US-based NHL (National Hockey League).
Last September, KHL’s ex-President Dmitry Chernyshenko announced that the league chalked up 3.6 billion rubles (over $54.8 million) in revenue for the 2018/2019 season.
COVID-19 Global Spread
On December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, an economic and industrial megalopolis with a population of 11 million.
The virus was identified on January 7 as 2019-nCoV. The World Health Organization declared in January that the new coronavirus outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern, characterizing it as an epidemic with multiple locations.
On February 11, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the organization gave the novel coronavirus an official name of COVID-19. On March 11, the World Health Organization officially stated that the continuously spreading novel coronavirus was a global pandemic.
As of today, 194 countries and territories reported confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the latest reports, over 428,220 cases have been confirmed worldwide. The virus’ death toll has reached 19,101, yet more than 109,240 patients have recovered from the disease.