From the NBA suspending its season to soccer games being played in empty arenas, here’s an update on how the sports world is dealing with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
With more than 100,000 worldwide infections and more than 4,300 people killed in the early weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, the sports world has been given no choice but to take drastic measures. Seasons have been suspended, tournaments have been canceled, and players have been put under quarantine, all in hope of curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As the world continues to react to this pandemic, it seems that every sporting event – from the NBA Finals to the UEFA Champions League to the 2020 Summer Olympics – is at risk of cancellation. As the sporting world continues its efforts to help in the global fight against the disease, here are the latest updates as to what’s going on in the sports world in terms of the coronavirus.
BASKETBALL: The NBA announced on Mar. 11 that it would suspend the rest of its 2019-2020 season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. “The N.B.A. will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward regarding the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said in a statement, according to The New York Times. A day after the announcement, Jazz player Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for COVID-19. The NBA G-League also suspended its season indefinitely as they figure out the next step.
The NCAA said that its men’s and women’s basketball tournament (aka “March Madness”) would continue by being held in empty arenas, with only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to watch the game in person. However, fears that March Madness would be canceled increased after some of the most significant lead-in events – the SEC, AAC, PAC-12, ACC, Atlantic-10, Colonial, WAS, and Big Ten tournaments – were canceled.
BASEBALL: The MLB was in Spring Training when the coronavirus outbreak started, so the league didn’t immediately make any major announcements regarding what they planned to do with its 2020 season. However, with many cities instituting states of emergencies and limiting local gatherings, it seemed that America’s favorite pastime would spend the start of its season in empty arenas across the country.
HOCKEY: NHL fans are bracing for the worst. As of Mar. 12, there hasn’t been any cancellation or decree to play games in empty arenas. However, the NHL advised teams to cancel their morning skates on Thursday (Mar. 12) morning, indicating that some changes are coming.
[UPDATE 3/12 @ 1:45 PM ET: Hockey has been “paused” for the foreseeable future. “In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight’s games,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “We will continue the monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate.”]
OLYMPICS: “The IOC EB encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The IOC will keep supporting the athletes by providing the latest information and developments, which are accessible for athletes worldwide on the Athlete365 website,” the International Olympic Committee said in a Mar. 2 statement. With the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo taking place from July 24 to August 9, the organizers are still going ahead with the event (though, there’s talk that it might be delayed a week or two if necessary.)
SOCCER: “Major League Soccer ahs suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately,” the MLS organization said in a Mar. 12 statement. “At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events.”
England’s Premier League will reportedly play games in empty stadiums going forward. As of Mar. 12, Spain suspended play in its top two divisions (including La Liga) for at least two weeks. France barred spectators at all games until Apr. 15. Italy’s Serie A has been suspended, and Juventus player Cristiano Ronaldo was placed in self-imposed quarantine after his teammate Daniele Rugani was tested positive for the virus.
FOOTBALL: With the NFL kicking off its 2020-21 season on Sept. 21, the league didn’t immediately announce what it plans to do regarding coronavirus. However, teams reportedly altered their pre-NFL Draft travel plans, according to NFL.com. College football was forced to immediately react to the outbreak, with Michigan and Ohio State announcing that they would cancel their spring scrimmages, per ESPN.
The only XFL game currently affected is the Seattle Dragon’s home game against the LA Wildcats, which will be played without any fans at CenturyLink Field.
NASCAR: As of Mar. 12, games are continuing as scheduled with fans in attendance (thought its Mar. 22 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway was reportedly postponed.)
We will continue to update this post as more news breaks.
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