The outbreak of the coronavirus has already had a major impact in Europe and Asia in terms of the cancelation of baseball games and soccer matches and the banning of spectators at some events authorities have allowed to take place.
Professional sports leagues in the United States, and the NCAA, are keeping in close contact with the Center for Disease Control looking for guidance in how to proceed in the coming weeks.
It all creates an interesting conundrum for fans. Think about it. Would you go to a game knowing you might be exposed to someone who has the coronavirus?
The NBA has already issued a memo including some recommendations for their players.
According to ESPN, the NBA is asking players to fist-bump and not high-five fans. It is also suggesting players not accept items like jerseys, pens and balls from fans looking for autographs.
“The coronavirus remains a situation with the potential to change rapidly,” the league told teams in the memo.
The NBA is concerned about the conclusion of the regular season and playoffs, not to mention other sanctioned events like on-site workouts and international scouting events.
ESPN tells us the NBA is also consulting with other infectious disease experts. You can expect the league to follow whatever directions it is given to help keep their personnel and fans safe.
“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount. We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely,” the NBA said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
The reaction of the players has been varied.
“I don’t think about any of that,” Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat told reporters this week. “I’m still going to be who I am. We’re still going to be who we are.”
Others, like CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers, have decided to take a more measured approach by taking a break from signing autographs.
According to an NBA medical official, any of its players who might contract the disease would be asked to miss two weeks of action.
As far as the NCAA is concerned, there has been the suggestion it might play March Madness games in arenas without fans.
“If you can think of it, it’s something that we’ve gone through an analysis around,” NCAA chief operating officer Donald Remy told Bloomberg. “We’ve contingency planned for all circumstances.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of these student-athletes. As we’re thinking about these circumstance, we’re thinking about how to preserve that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and at the same time how to make sure that any decision we make is grounded in medical science.”
The NHL is also in the observation stage and has not decided whether it will need to cancel any of its games in Canada and the United States.
“We’re monitoring,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com. “It’s hard not to monitor it. It seems to be coming closer to us every time, every day that goes by. Certainly, it impacts what our plans will be in China in the future and in the relatively near future.”
The Boston Red Sox have already been forced into action. The team has asked Chih-Jung Liu of Taiwan to stay away from their spring training complex for the time being due to concerns about the outbreak of the virus in Asia.
According to the Boston Globe, Liu is in a Florida hotel where he’s brought his meals. Apparently, he hasn’t left his room for anything but a run.
Red Sox infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, who is also from Taiwan, was told by the team to stay in his apartment for a short time.
“I had been here (at spring training) for a week and they said I needed to go back to my apartment,” Lin told the Boston Globe. “I was fine. I stayed away for one day and that was it.”
Even the running of the Kentucky Derby in May might be in danger.
“We still have a great deal of time to monitor and react,” Churchill Downs told the New York Post in a statement. “We also will learn from others as they hold events over the next number of weeks. We are consulting with relevant authorities and will take any and all necessary steps to ensure the safety of all who attend and participate.”