After three years, Little League® International is excited to bring back all of our Region and World Series tournaments for the 2022 season. As the world still navigates the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Little League remains committed to the health and well-being of all teams and has worked with its medical advisors to provide guidance to operate all tournaments throughout this summer.
“As we enter this year’s full slate of Little League Region and World Series tournaments, we have seen great advances in treatments, testing, and understanding of COVID-19,” said James H. Finigan, MD, National Jewish Health Pulmonologist and Director of the Respiratory Centers of Excellence, and Little League International Medical Advisor. “We know that there is no way to eliminate all risk of catching COVID-19 during the tournaments, but we worked together to develop guidelines with the goal of allowing these events to occur as normally and safely as possible.”
With guidance from National Jewish Health, located in Denver, Colorado, Little League International has created a detailed plan to operate our tournaments this summer.
Here is what teams and official team members (players, coaches/managers, interpreters, team advocates, etc.) can expect at the Little League Baseball and Softball Region Tournaments, and all seven World Series events:
While there will be no required surveillance testing (intake testing or testing of asymptomatic individuals) of COVID-19 for teams prior to or during the tournaments, all team members (players, coaches/managers, interpreters, team advocates) are encouraged to self-test using an FDA-approved/authorized rapid antigen or PCR-based test prior to arrival at each tournament event. Participants who test positive during pre-screening will not be permitted to travel to the event until they are asymptomatic and have cleared five days of isolation. Additionally, any team member experiencing any health issues or feeling ill should not travel with the team. Each tournament will have a medical staff member who will lead evaluation and testing for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
All staff, volunteers, and media will be required to wear a cloth, surgical, KN95, or N95 masks at all times in enclosed, player-facing areas (dining hall, certain stadium locations, recreation areas, indoor practice facilities, etc.). Official team members (players, coaches/managers, interpreters, team advocates) are not required to wear cloth, surgical, KN95, or N95 masks while on the field, in the dugouts, at indoor practice facilities, or in other indoor locations unless otherwise notified. Additional masking may be required based on exposure to or recent positive COVID-19 test results. In addition to when masks are required, all individuals are encouraged to mask at their comfort level, including when traveling and using provided transportation with other teams.
While vaccinations are not required to participate in the Little League Baseball and Softball Region and World Series tournaments, those who are determined to be in close contact of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 may be subject to additional testing, masking, or isolation requirements, based on their vaccination status.
In the Event of a Positive COVID-19 Test
Even with these precautions in place, through no one’s fault, a player, coach, manager, or team advocate may test positive for COVID-19. The health, safety and well-being of every participant is Little League International’s paramount concern. In the event of a positive COVID-19 test, Little League International staff, in consultation with its medical advisors, will work efficiently to communicate with the appropriate family members, team contacts, and any other appropriate parties, to initiate any quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing procedures.
For the purpose of these tournaments, all team members (players, coaches, managers, interpreters, team advocates) will be considered a close contact, however contact tracing will not take place outside of those team members. All asymptomatic team members may be able to continue to participate in the tournament based on the testing protocols as dictated by their vaccination status as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (not up-to-date: tested both two and five days after exposure; up-to-date: tested only five days after exposure) and subject to additional masking requirements.
Should anyone present symptoms during this time, those individuals would follow the additional testing, masking, and isolation protocols, as outlined by the appointed medical professionals at the tournament location.
Mental Health Support
Again this year, Little League International is working with DotCom Therapy to support the mental health and wellbeing of Little League Baseball and Softball Region Tournament participants, as well as those competing in our seven World Series events. Additional educational information is available to all Little League participants and their families. Those needing this additional support should contact their coach, team advocate, or tournament director for more information.
Families and Spectators
Little League International is excited to welcome back all fans and spectators to its Region and World Series tournaments. Please note that individual host facilities may have state and/or local guidance that spectators may need to follow regarding capacity and masking. We ask all spectators to follow the same high level of sportsmanship and respect throughout the tournament in regards to individual choices on masking and distancing.
Family Interaction and Activities Outside of Practice and Games
As with our tournaments prior to the pandemic, teams are welcome to interact with their families and experience their host communities, working with tournament directors on their appropriate procedures, to help ensure the safety of all participants. Team members are permitted, based on individual tournament procedures, to travel in personal vehicles. In all non-tournament-related activities and when interacting with anyone outside of the team, all individuals are encouraged to mask at their own comfort level.
As we continue to navigate the changing impact of the pandemic in our communities, all participants are asked to adhere to the guidance and direction provided by the Little League International staff and tournament officials at each location. Please note that, while encouraged, protocols for participants at the Region Tournaments for the teenage divisions (Little League Intermediate (50/70) Division, Junior League Baseball, Junior League Softball, Senior League Baseball, and Senior League Softball) may vary based on location.