Scripps National Spelling Bee Returns To Action After 2020 Covid Washout; In-Person, Televised Event Set For July

After going dark in 2020 due to Covid-19, the Scripps National Spelling Bee plans to resume its century-old annual contest on July 8, with an in-person edition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

ESPN2 will air the championship round, featuring 10 to 12 spellers. Organizers said the decision to limit the number of finalists “was made in consideration of the health and safety of participants, their families and everyone involved in the event’s production.” They said the in-person portion of the bee will follow protocols based on guidance from health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for social distancing and masking.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s preliminaries, quarterfinals and semifinals will be held virtually in the weeks leading up to the July 8 finals.

The ESPN-branded venue outside of Orlando was where the NBA held its “bubble” post-season last summer and fall, managing to complete the season without any coronavirus outbreaks.

“Since its beginnings nearly 100 years ago, the Scripps National Spelling Bee and its spellers have inspired audiences across the globe with a compelling combination of academic excellence and engaging entertainment,” said Adam Symson, CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company. “Now, as the world continues to adapt to an ongoing pandemic, Scripps is committed to reimagining the beloved competition in a way that safely allows our exceptional spellers to continue this iconic tradition on the national stage.”

Scripps said it is also reviewing Covid-19-related health and safety protocols with medical experts at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

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