National Spelling Bee to Return in 2021

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February 22, 2021

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will take place in 2021 but in limited form.

Spelling Bee logo

Officials canceled the National Spelling Bee in 2020 because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time since World War II that the Bee had not taken place.

The major change in 2021 will be the expanded timeline of the event. Rather than the traditional Bee Week, officials have planned a weekslong competition. Preliminary rounds will take place in mid-June, the semifinals will be on June 27, and the televised finals (featuring only a dozen or so spellers) will occur on July 8. The finals location will be the Walt Disney World ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, in Orlando, Fla. All other rounds will take place in a virtual environment.

In addition, officials have limited the field to 200. The 2019 number of participants was 562.

The students who do compete will not have to complete a written spelling and vocabulary test, one of the innovations of recent years. What that means for spellers in practice is that more difficult words might appear in earlier rounds.

To qualify, spellers must perform well at a regional bee or in an online qualifying bee.

In 2019, eight students together won the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee.

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