The COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring US sports to a grinding halt with further announcements regarding both the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) seeing both organizations suspend play.

The MLS was the first to issue its statement regarding the halting of all games, with the league confirming a 30-day suspension to all play, effective immediately, as it continues to assess the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, said in the statement: “Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials.

“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.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees. We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

The NHL followed suit shortly after, suspending play with immediate effect. However, unlike the MLS, the hockey league remained unclear as to when play would recommence, stating that its ‘goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate’.

A statement released by National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the current 2019-20 NHL season read: “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.

“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. 

“However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.

“We will continue to 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. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”

The announcements follow on from the recent news that saw the National Basketball Association suspend its season earlier this week after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. A second Utah Jazz player, guard Donovan Mitchell, has also contracted the virus.