FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

The Coronavirus

Jan 30, 2020 Written by Frank Merrick


I’m sure many of you have been following the world-wide news about the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.

Based on travel advisories and information from local partners – and with the safety of our community top priority – we are postponing the FIRST Robotics Competition events that had been scheduled in Beijing, China for March until after FIRST Championship. This is unfortunate but necessary given the impact of the virus on local and regional activities. We have reached out directly to currently registered teams impacted by this decision, letting them know their options. We will be doing our best to take care of those teams who are most affected by this unexpected challenge. You can find the email we sent those teams here.

A few other notes:

  • We know teams may be scrambling to pay for their 2nd (and beyond) events by the January 31 deadline. We’re extending this deadline to February 7th for all teams to give them more time to take this new information into account as they make decisions about the season.
  • Given the dynamic situation with the virus, we can’t yet say when the rescheduled events will be, but they will be held after the 2020 FIRST Championship.
  • Our intent is to have the rescheduled China events earn slots to FIRST Championship like the original events would have, even though, in this case, they would be earning slots to the 2021 FIRST Championship. This may sound strange, but a handful of teams (for example, Engineering Inspiration Award winners) already earn spots at the following year FIRST Championship for something they did in the current year. We’re just extending that concept in this very unusual situation. How the slots for the rescheduled events will be structured is TBD.

We will be keeping the community updated as we learn more and decisions are made regarding the rescheduled events.


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Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information. Please contact the Program Delivery Partner directly about specific events, and please send an email to for more general questions.

I am as a parent concern for the kids health at this critical time that every organization worried about Coronavirus and spreading it around . I wonder to know why this competition shouldn't be rescheduled for later? Most of the big companies such Google, Facebook, NVIDIA and real estate seo company & real estate digital marketing agency will donate.... have canceled their very important meetings. Please consider our kids, teachers and volunteers safety and their health. Iamgin if one person is effected how fast can spread it out between others in this gathering. Thanks for your concideration on this matter. Thanks

Thanks for your question and concerns. Please see this page for more detailed information.

I will add my voice to this chat insofar as to note that Austin just announced it is cancelling SXSW, one of its biggest yearly events. Why is it advisable to go on with this competition in light of that development?

My son is a senior in his 4th year on his HS robotics team and I've always been impressed by FIRST but it is really dropping the ball here. A month old blog with a couple of ud[pates. Links to a page that doesn't really say anything. So I'm taking it upon myself to add info to this page I Google about team and tournament news related tot virus. 2 so far, some school snto going and a canceled tournament. 

In Tennessee.

NJ - paywalled but you get the idea.

Santa Clara County Public Health Dept. yesterday officially released their guidance that large group events be canceled or postponed. Your 3/3/20 page says FRC is following the local government guidelines. Please kindly update the statement and schedule to reflect this guidance, namely for status of San Jose, CA events.

Please cancel events in California due to Coronavirus. Is FIRST all about profits or safety of the children?

Dear FIRST - PLEASE STOP REFERRING PEOPLE TO ANOTHER PAGE AND CDC RESOURCES. The reason all these parents are writing on your page is because we have already visited those pages and are closely monitoring the situation. And we want answers! So, please FIRST have a little more respect to our intelligence. I understand that FIRST follows the guidelines from the local community and public health officials; however, if you are following those guidelines and closely monitor the situation, why don’t you act proactively and cancel the event until further notice, just like two major South FL festivals (Ultra and Calle Ocho) were canceled? What are you waiting for? I hope FIRST realizes that if there is an outbreak as a result of the upcoming Orlando Competition (and the ones that follow after), then we will be dealing with a different problem, besides the outbreak. We will have a lot of upset parents, as to how FIRST handled the situation, after so many requests to cancel or postpone. Take action – PLEASE! As a responsible parent, it is my due diligence to ensure my children's safety. As of today, I do not gather the same attitude from FIRST. It seems that money $$$ matters more than the safety of our children. Very disappointed with FIRST’s response to people.

I will add my comments to those of Natalia. What she said applies equally to the Fort Worth District competition coming up on March 12. Many participants will be traveling from areas where the virus is pervasive, including Houston and Lackland Airforce base which is the site of the recent quarantine of returning infected travelers. If you are following CDC guidance then you will cancel this event, as the latest advice from Mr. Fauci was that we all need to work together to stem the tide of the virus and the way to do this is to cancel events where the virus is likely to thrive. This is just such an event given the foregoing facts. Natalia is right in saying that FRC will have a much bigger problem if many are sickened and it could have done something about it. Now is the time to act, as has been repeatedly stressed by the health authorities. Now is the time to LISTEN to their advice.


As others have stated, saftey should come first. Even the NBA is limiting exposure for their teams. This venu is a regional event and a short drive from New York where events have already been cancelled due to the outbreak. New confirmed cases have just started popping up this weekend as the virus forces it's way over state lines and could begin to spike around the time this event is scheduled. Let's protect our kids and volunteers as well as the image FIRST and all their event sponsors worked so hard to gain. Nobody wants an outbreak tied to a FIRST event with video and photos of spectators sitting on top of each other in the stands.

This coming weekend is a competition in St. Louis, there is a case of the Coronavirus in that city too.  Maybe schools just need to start canceling going to competitions where there is a known case of Coronavirus to ensure the safety of students.  

Seriously? No updates except following local health guidelines? FIRST, take the lead and not just follow - We all know there are financial implications at play here, but does it take precedence over health concerns? The worlds is in a month, people are busy booking hotel, flights and making plans - Do the right thing - We all saw the negative fallout from the Indian Wells Tennis Masters cancellation at the last minute - Do not let it happen to the big tournaments please

Also echoing the concerned parent's post. It is time for First organization to act. Don't put parents and kids in touch situation to choose between health and education.  It is also just unfair to those regional where cities  have already banned large gathering.

There are too many unknowns still around this virus.  As such, most organizations have chosen to take a proactive approach and postpone events.  My son has a competition tomorrow that has not been cancelled in San Diego and I don't want to hold him back given how hard he worked, however, if FIRST doesn't do it, we need to.  What if someone attends the event and has a virus? Why do we want to reach to that situation and cause hundreds of familes to quarantine as a result, when this can be postponed to later on in the year when we have more information and understand better the virus? This is irresponsible behavior by FIRST and very disappointing and prone to generating lawsuits.

Please see our updated statement here:

So this just happened - FRC please do the same in Fort Worth:

Just reported at FIRST at SUNY Poly 82

Due to concerns related to COVID-19 and with the health and welfare of our SUNY Poly community, the larger community, and those who visit our campus in mind, our institution has decided it is appropriate to postpone the upcoming FIRST Tech Challenge NY Excelsior Championship on March 14; the Central New York 2020 Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on March 18-21; and the FIRST LEGO League Junior Expo on March 21. This decision was very difficult because we know the teams, volunteers, and spectators are as passionate about these events as we are.

We are assessing next steps, and more information will be posted at 93 as it becomes available.

Please see our updated statement here:

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