The Scripps National Spelling Bee has been canceled for the first time since World War II, organizers announced on Tuesday.
The spelling bee announced that it was suspending the national finals on March 20 while monitoring the spread of the coronavirus. Organizers determined there was no clear path forward to conduct the bee safely in National Harbor, Md., from May 24-29.
Eighth-grade contestants will not be able to compete for one final time. More than 150 contestants were entered for this year's national finals.
"Our thoughts immediately go to our spellers and their families," executive director Paige Kimble announced. "The students have dedicated time and effort to their passion for learning. They should be proud of all they have accomplished by winning spelling bees at the classroom, school and regional level. Nevertheless, our first priority has to be to the health and well-being of our spellers and their families and the hundreds of staff and spectators that come together for Bee Week."
The spelling bee started in 1925 and was canceled from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II.
Last year's spelling bee ended in an eight-way tie after organizers ran out of challenging words for the finalists. The 2021 edition of the spelling bee is scheduled for June 1-3, 2021