The regional government in Katowice, Poland has decided to close off the arena for IEM Katowice to fans due to concern over the Coronavirus. The move comes right before the event was scheduled to begin with thousands of fans already in the city. The actual competition will continue as planned, but fans will not be able to enter the arena.
ESL, the tournament organizer for IEM Katowice, had the companies event license suspended at about 8 PM local time on Thursday, February 27th. According to a statement from Michal ‘CARMAC’ Blicharz, ESL’s VP of Pro Gaming, the regional government had confirmed the license was still valid earlier that day.
IEM Katowice is the most anticipated CS:GO event each year with some fans referring to the trip to Poland as a Mecca. For both fans and ESL, this cancellation is a huge letdown.
“If you bought tickets to Katowice, hoping to see a wonderful event, especially for the first time, all I can do is apologize,” CARMAC said fighting back tears. “We will do everything in our power to make this event for you. Spodek is closed. Sorry. Sorry.”
Fans will have tickets refunded but the price of tickets is only a small part of the costs associated with traveling to an event like this. While emotions are running high, some teams and players have come out in favor of this ruling as concerns over Coronavirus continue with the virus’ spread around the world.
Ultimately, safety comes first but with the global nature of esports competitions, growing concerns over the Coronavirus will hang heavy over future competitions as well. Events across Asia have already been canceled but this is the first major event cancellation outside of Asia due to the disease.
Article by Mitch Reames