The new strain of coronavirus has officially become a concerning new development in daily life for China, it’s citizens living abroad, and people all over the globe. As cases are reported outside China, with two in Canada and five in the US, there has been a rush to disseminate information about spreading the contagion amid efforts to contain it. As gamers scramble to understand what’s happening, even going to games like Plague Inc. to look for answers, officials work to help deal with the problem.
Chinese officials have been scrambling, alongside the rest of the globe, to help contain the outbreak. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while the epidemic was clearly a crisis in China, “it has not yet become a global health emergency”, although he added: “It may yet become one.”
So far, more than 830 people have been infected in China, with 25 dead. Those infected seem to be relegated to those from in and around the initial outbreak center of Wuhan, or those who traveled there. Part of the containment procedures even include restrictions on public events and travel within the Wuhan province, where the disease was first identified in Wuhan City. And it appears that these restrictions have impacted video games as well.
Various gaming events that were scheduled to be held inside China have been delayed in response to the virus. First, the Chinese League of Legends Pro League announced that tournaments have been delayed indefinitely until it can “ensure the safety and health of our players and fans.” In a statement made by LPL, the group apologizes to fans and for any inconveniences caused by the abrupt change.
The second major cancellation is for an event in the Macau Special Administrative Region. This area along the Chinese coast is a special area that exists in a similar status to Hong Kong legally speaking. The city maintains some level of autonomy although it’s defense and other major decisions are handled by the Chinese state. To prevent the coronavirus from spreading abroad, the World Electronic Sports Games’ Asia-Pacific finals for Counter Strike: Global Offensive have also been cancelled.
As of now neither WESG nor LPL have announced a new date for the competitions.
This is the most sensible course of action that could possibly be taken, even though it will screw up the plans of thousands of fans, staff and competitors for these events. Having many people from all over the globe possibly contract the virus then end up on planes, spreading it to dozens of countries, is a worst-case scenario. That could of spread certainly would elevate the issue to a global crisis.
English LPL commentators Jake “Hysterics” Osypenko, Robert “Dagda” Price, Oisín “Penguin” Molloy, Clement Chu, and Joe “Munchables” Fenny also made a statement announcing that they would be leaving China. The US embassy has also reportedly evacuated some staff in certain areas of China to prevent possible exposure.
The real danger here, aside from the disease itself, is the panic that it creates. “We don’t really know the extent of how dangerous it is, but it seems like it could be a lot worse than people are saying, so we’re getting the f*** out of here,” Fenny said. That kind of mentality could very easily lead to justifying much harsher responses that may not be needed. It’s a really delicate balancing act, and it looks like the coronavirus will be used to justify bigotry and geopolitical tensions increasing, if it gets bad enough. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.
The ongoing delays and cancellations also extend to other non-gaming events as well. Some public celebrations in some areas have been closed down or postponed for fears of spreading the virus. In the capital Beijing, authorities cancelled “major events” indefinitely, including traditional temple fairs relating to Chinese New Year festivities.