“The suspension includes all in-person events and the live national broadcast the week of May 24,” organizers said in a statement (read it in full below). “If possible, we will work with our local sponsors, spellers, convention partners and ESPN to reschedule the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee for later this year.”
ESPN has televised portions of the event for more than 25 years and since 2006 has aired earlier rounds during the day and the finals at night.
Last year’s bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie after the remaining contestants competed in 20 rounds of head-to-head competition. It was the first group to share the title since the annual event began in 1925.
Here is the spelling bee organizers’ full statement:
“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is suspending the 2020 national finals in National Harbor, Maryland. The Bee recognizes the important responsibility to take action that protects the health and well-being of its participants including the spellers, their families, the local sponsors, employees of The E.W. Scripps Company and others who support the event known as Bee Week. The executive order from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people until the termination of the state of emergency in Maryland as well as recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscore the decision to suspend the national finals.
“The suspension includes all in-person events and the live national broadcast the week of May 24. If possible, the Bee will work with local sponsors, spellers, convention partners and ESPN to reschedule the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee for later this year.
“The world is navigating through uncertainty, and while the timing of the national finals is just outside the eight-week window recommended by the CDC, this is the safest and most responsible action. This was a difficult decision that unfortunately will disappoint students who have spent a great deal of time studying and preparing, along with their parents and teachers who have supported them. The focus now shifts to exploring all options to possibly reimagine a competition for later this year.
“The Bee will keep local sponsors, spellers, parents and teachers informed in the coming days and weeks through direct emails, spellingbee.com and social media as it determines next steps in this unprecedented situation.”