Polish officials prohibit audience attendance at IEM Katowice 2020, the ESL has announced.
The coronavirus outbreak continues disrupting some of gaming's biggest events, this time with the ESL's annual $500,000 international CS:GO tournament held in Poland. IEM Katowice, Counter-Strike's biggest global tournament held in Poland, won't have an audience due to coronavirus health risks.
Polish officials have pulled the ESL's license just hours before the event launched, and attendees will no longer be able to watch the playoffs on-site, nor can they roam around the expo hall.
"It breaks our heart that, today at 19:45 CET we were informed that, due to the dynamic changes in the global health situation, the Masters Championship at IEM Katowice 2020 has been closed to the public by the Polish Gouverneur of Silesia hours before its door opening," the ESL said.
Roughly 174,000 fans attended the event in 2019, which means the ESL will miss out on big ticket and merchandise sales during the event, and exhibitors will likewise lose out on exposure. IEM Katowice will be held from today, February 28 through March 1, 2020.
The ESL plans to fully refund ticketholders, but that's little solace to those who flew across the world to see their favorite CS:GO pros duke it out on stage.
The ESL gave the following statement, and also check the FAQ page for more info:
It breaks our heart that, today at 19:45 CET we were informed that, due to the dynamic changes in the global health situation, the Masters Championship at IEM Katowice 2020 has been closed to the public by the Polish Gouverneur of Silesia hours before its door opening.
We respect the decision from the local authorities. Your health and well-being stand above everything else.
You will be able to request a refund for your ticket. Our team is currently working on the refund method, FAQ and how-to guide that will be uploaded on iem.gg/katowice2020 in the next few days. We see all your messages and will collectively respond on the official event website, so please be patient.
If your ticket included a goodie bag, we will ship this to you for free. There will also be a request form on iem.gg/katowice2020 in the next few days.
For the first time ever, the legendary Spodek arena will not be echoing with your chants and cheers. In the spirit of esports, we will still broadcast the tournament as planned on online and TV channels. Join us in the chat, we are going to make sure to deliver a legendary weekend.