The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the sporting world has escalated, with America’s NBA suspending its season.
- More than 1,000 people in the United States have so far tested positive to COVID-19
- An NBA player has become the first professional sportsman or woman in the US to test positive
- The league responded to the news by suspending its season, signalling it would use the break to work on a response to the pandemic
This morning an NBA game between Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was cancelled at the last minute — with fans already in their seats — after a Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19.
The NBA did not name the player but American media identified him as Jazz centre Rudy Gobert.
The league, which generated revenue of $US8.8 billion ($13.62 billion) last year, announced it was closing down “until further notice” following the conclusion of the night’s schedule of games.
“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league stated.
Leading NBA figures responded in shock to the announcement.
“This is crazy, this can’t be true,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN during his side’s match against the Denver Nuggets.
“This is not within the realms of possibility. It seems like more out of a movie than reality,” Cuban said.
“You know what, it’s really not about basketball or money, I mean literally if this thing is just exploding to the point where all of a sudden players and others have had it, you think about your family.
“Just the whole idea that it’s come this close, and that potentially a couple of players have it.
“Stunning isn’t the right word. It’s crazy.”
Despite the message on the shoes of Boston Celtics’ star Enes Kanter, the 2019-20 NBA season has been suspended due to COVID-19. (Reuters: Brian Spurlock)
The National Hockey League (NHL) said it was consulting with experts on whether or not to suspend its season.
“The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight,” the NHL said in a statement.
“The NHL continues to consult with medical experts, and is evaluating the options.
“We expect to have a further update tomorrow.”
Earlier, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said its biggest college basketball tournaments, known as March Madness, would be closed to spectators.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said only “essential staff and limited family” would be allowed to attend the tournaments, which begin on Tuesday in Ohio.
Major League Baseball, whose season is set to start on March 26, said the Seattle Mariners would not play home games during March, with the San Francisco Giants cancelling a pre-season match against the Oakland Raiders on March 24.