The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced on Wednesday night, March 11, that the association is suspending the season following a player testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Rudy Gobert, a Utah Jazz player “preliminary tested positive” for the virus, prompting rapid reaction from executives, the Associated Press reported citing sources. The Utah Jazz game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder was promptly suspended with everyone sent home.
Reading the official statement, NBA officials had this to say:
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’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 Association is one of the latest sports bodies to announce that it would be shutting down – not only its live games in front of a public – but also the entire season due to fears about COVID-19 spreading rapidly among players, executives and more importantly, the general audience.
Coronavirus Bites into Sports – Indian Wells
If the Indian Wells can be shut down, can any other event follow suite, The New York Times rhetorically asked. One of the largest tennis tournaments, Indian Wells was canceled without any prior notices that it would be.
Yet, the threat of spreading the virus has permeated sport on all level. European soccer Serie A team Juventus’ Daniele Rugani tested positive for COVID-19, which has prompted a reorganization of European soccer schedule.
The English Premier League (EPL) is considering playing games without fans, a measure that the NBA considered as well. However, asymptomatic transmittance has dissuaded executives to pursue with the idea.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic although no new measures have been introducing. Several countries in Europe have been put on lockdown, including Italy where the death toll has increased to 827, a worrying spike putting the entire country under quarantine.
Denmark and Ukraine have also announced a country-wide lockdown with all public gatherings canceled as well as schools and universities shutting down.
The World of Sport Is Ready for Tougher Measures Against COVID-19
With the disease spreading and wreaking havoc all sports events through the summer that need a live audience will most likely be canceled or fans will be turned away. But even then, the virus is expected to infect up to 70% of the population.
With a death toll reaching above 3% in some places, the threat of the coronavirus is striking with new intensity. The question that remains now is whether the virus can be contained – experts suggest that it would continue to spread until a vaccine has been discovered – roughly a year from now.
However, making it through summer would give the world a fighting chance to slow down the virus further as people tend to “sneeze and cough” less during the warm months of the year.
Nevertheless, sports and the world, in general, may need to brace for trying times ahead. While it’s almost certain that COVID-19 will be brought under control, Italy’s outbreak should serve as a wake-up call that we have collective responsibility for each other.
As the shipments of supplies from China to Italy said on the boxes – “We are all ripples in the same sea. We are all leaves of the same tree”.