The National Pro Fastpitch league will not take the field in 2020 for what would have been the league’s 17th season of competition. The league cited COVID-19 as the sole factor in decision making.
“It is not without careful consideration and much thought, that we make the decision to forego the 2020 season,” commented league Commissioner, Cheri Kempf.
“We have always prioritized the health and safety of our players and the global pandemic of COVID-19 places us in a position we are unable to overcome. It is simply not feasible for the league to manage at this time.”
Obstacles specifically cited by the league include an inability to access testing as well as an uncertainty on the cost of that testing; access and allowance inside potential venues; lack of adequate infrastructure required to travel from market to market, live, practice, and compete each day of the season in various markets while maintaining the assurance of player safety and good health.
Softball Australia confirmed in April they won’t be sending the Travelodge Aussie Spirit squad to compete for the Aussie Peppers of Minnesota in the 2020 National Professional Fastpitch (NPF) season.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and current restrictions on international travel made it near impossible to plan for a timeline of sending Australian athletes overseas to compete in the NPF competition.
The Aussie Peppers were to play a significant part in Australia’s Olympic preparation, however following the IOC’s decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games to 23 July, 2021, Softball Australia’s High Performance team were forced to re-assess current plans.
“We’re disappointed not to be competing for the Aussie Peppers of Minnesota in the NPF in 2020,” said David Pryles, Chief Executive Officer at Softball Australia.
“The Peppers organisation and the City of Mankato were incredibly welcoming and accommodating in 2019 and we have no doubt we would’ve received the same reception in 2020, however, the safety of our athletes must be a priority in this uncertain period.
“That, and the strict travel restrictions put in place by the Australian Federal Government has forced our hand into not sending the Travelodge Aussie Spirit squad to the NPF.”
That announcement was followed in the span of a couple of weeks, by the withdrawal of the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, a team made up entirely of players on the Canadian Olympic team. The decision was made following a complete border shutdown between the United States and Canada, making it impossible for players and staff to enter the United States.
Required quarantines for international travelers throughout the world were cited as also complicating issues for the international teams rostering athletes who are also amid training for their respective Olympic teams.
“The circumstances of this are unfortunate for sure, but we are extremely proud of our status as a true global league, representing the best of our sport with outstanding athletes from around the world,” continued Kempf.
“Three of our five teams competing in 2020 were the qualified Olympic teams of Australia, Canada and Mexico (Cleveland Comets). In addition to that, a fourth qualifying team, Italy, was also slated to play exhibition games inside league competition throughout June.”
“We will start our 2021 planning now, in order to resume competition and the original plan to escort our league teams to the doorstep of the Tokyo Olympics with the best preparation they can have. We appreciate the support we have been shown throughout the world of sports from players and fans alike and we look forward to season 17 in 2021.”