NBA Cancels Season, Other Leagues Are Taking Precautions To Fight Coronavirus
By Parker Diakite
The NBA announced Wednesday night that it was suspending the season after a player tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands of people around the world and sickened more than 100,000.
The league is joining a growing number of industries that are either canceling or postponing events in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Sports tourism is a $1.41 trillion industry worldwide and is expected to grow to nearly $5 trillion by the end of 2021. But the latest developments with the Coronavirus, which has now been labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, could have an impact on the sports tourism industry.
How are other leagues responding?
The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off-game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The affected player was not in the arena, according to a statement from the league.
The NBA has suspended gameplay until further notice and will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
March Madness will go on but there will be no fans in the seats with the exception of essential staff and limited family members.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.
The Seattle Mariners decided to play their March home games elsewhere after the state of Washington banned events involving large groups until the end of the month.
As of now, the league has not offered any guidance on moving or postponing games, according to local reports.
It’s important to note that the NFL has more leeway with planning than other sports leagues as the NFL is currently not in season. The draft season, however, can be affected.
“Our plans remain in place,” the league said in a statement. “The NFL continues to closely monitor coronavirus developments and has been in contact with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NFL-NFLPA’s medical experts at the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON). We will continue to monitor and share guidance as the situation warrants and as our experts recommend.”
Major League Soccer has postponed two matches so far, both set for March 21: Sporting Kansas City at the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas at the Seattle Sounders.
“Providing a safe and healthy environment for our fans, players and everyone at MLS matches is our top priority,” a statement from MLS reads. “During this rapidly changing issue, MLS remains in direct contact with the relevant governmental agencies including the CDC and [the Public Health Agency of Canada] and is also coordinating with other sporting organizations regarding COVID-19. In addition, every MLS club is in continuous dialogue with local and regional health authorities.”
The Olympics are scheduled to start in Tokyo on July 24, and as of now they are still proceeding as planned but the International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told the Associated Press in February that a decision about potentially canceling the games would have to be made by the end of May.