The outbreak and spreading of the coronavirus have not only embedded fear in folks but it has also heightened the precautionary measures being taken, even if Donald Trump and his task force are dragging their feet to administer provisions to prevent the virus from becoming unrelenting. The NCAA as well as the NBA have addressed the virus and were assessing their options while the NBA was reportedly preparing to hold games with only “essential staff” and no fans.
According to Bleacher Report, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported that the NBA disseminated a memo to the teams, informing them that they should begin to prepare playing games with only “essential staff,” but LeBron James said he’s won’t be hitting the court if there aren’t any fans present.
“Me play games without fans?” LeBron questioned. “Nah. I ain’t playing. If I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there ain’t no fans in there, I ain’t playing.”
The Los Angeles Laker added, “They can do what they wanna do.”
Marc Stein, reporter for The New York Times who covers the NBA, tweeted, “Postponing or canceling any game due to the coronavirus is a league office decision but the NBA, sources say, has notified teams to start ‘developing’ contingency plans in case ‘it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present’ — no fans, media, etc. Among the measures that the NBA wants its teams to start preparing for is the possibility — if the situation worsens — for instituting ‘temperature checks’ on various players, team staff members, referees and anyone else deemed ‘essential’ to stage a game in such conditions.”
Meanwhile, the NCAA has created a contingency plan of their own. The college basketball association has assembled a six-member coronavirus advisory team, including Carlos del Rio a global health department chair at Emory University, Vivek H. Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, and Mike Rodriguez, a former New York police officer who serves as the head of security for the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Open, according to the Washington Post.
Teams within the league, such as Johns Hopkins, have announced that either fans are not permitted to watch the games in the arena, or there would be a limit placed on public attendance.
As for March Madness 2020, which kicks off on Thursday, March 19, the NCAA has implemented a plan which includes not allowing spectators and screening players for the illness, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to NJ.com, Donald Remy, NCAA chief operating officer said on Tuesday, “The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner. Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.”