The accelerating spread of the Coronavirus pandemic has forced the NBA to suspend the current season after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19. The Utah Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for the virus shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
A statement from the NBA confirming the halt to games, underlined that Wednesday’s game had been canceled as a result of the test, adding that the affected player was not in the arena.
The association stated: “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The development now casts doubts on the hotly anticipated March Madness college basketball tournament which now looks set to proceed behind closed doors. A statement from the NCAA said it continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and its COVID-19 advisory panel.
NCAA President Mark Emmert commented: “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
“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. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.
“We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”
The NBA’s decision to suspend games prompted a missive from the NHL which read: “The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options.”
Also hit by the pandemic this week was Major League Soccer. It confirmed that two games will be postponed due to a Santa Clara County legal order banning all gatherings of 1,000 people or more and Washington State‘s restriction on gatherings of more than 250 people in King County. As a result, home games for the Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes scheduled for the weekend of March 20-22 will now not take place.