Coronavirus concerns prompt YMCA to cancel major swimming championships

The YMCA is canceling its major swimming championships amid concerns of coronavirus, the first time the organization has done so in more than 70 years.

The YMCA Short Course National Championships was set for the end of the month in North Carolina and was expected to draw 1,400 swimmers from across the country.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Executive leadership has decided to implement policies to reduce the risk to our staff and their families. Regardless of the concern level, it is our social responsibility to help protect vulnerable populations and keep communities strong,” Chief Human Resources Officer Kate Wollensak said in a statement.

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The national championships have been held yearly since 1923; the only prior cancelations were in 1942 through 1945 during World War II and in 1947.

The YMCA is cancelling major swimming championships amid concerns of coronavirus. (Google)

The YMCA is cancelling major swimming championships amid concerns of coronavirus. (Google)

The virus has infected more than 700 people in the U.S. and killed at least 27, with one state after another recording its first infections in quick succession. New Jersey reported its first coronavirus death Tuesday. Worldwide, nearly 120,000 have been infected and more than 4,200 have died.

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For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Most people recover in a matter of weeks, as has happened with three-quarters of those infected in mainland China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.