How is Coronavirus Affecting Basketball Games and Tournaments?: Authorities around the world are assessing how to best deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Isolation is the best form of action to combat the virus, which means many events have been cancelled around the world. So, how has coronavirus impacted the world of Basketball? So far, the sport is moving ahead business as usual but also with a cautious approach.
Certainly, there is a clear precedent for basketball to cancel games and tournaments in the coming weeks. Major conference events have already faced cancellation, such as the Geneva Motor Show. In the world of sport, the postponement of the Italian Series A (the top tier soccer league in the country) started last weekend.
The impact on basketball leagues and organizations having to take a similar approach could be immense. In the United States and Europe, the basketball season is drawing to a close and end-of-campaign tournaments are ready to get underway. If cancelled, teams would miss out on the chance to play in those competitions and fans would miss out on the spectacle.
Of course, there’s also a major industry built around basketball that game cancellations would negatively impact. For example, the basketball sports betting market would be damaged by a lack of on-court action. The NBA is unlikely to just cancel the Post Season wholesale, but even postponements would be harmful.
Here’s how basketball organizations around the world are reacting to the coronavirus outbreak.
The world’s most popular league is so far pressing ahead with a business as usual approach, albeit with some caveats. Heading into the remaining games of the Regular Season, the NBA has told players to avoid high fiving when interacting with fans. Instead, the league says players can fist bump spectators.
In an NBA memo obtained by CNBC, the organization also warns players to avoid “taking items (pens, markers, balls, jerseys, etc.) from fans to sign autographs.”
“The coronavirus remains a situation with the potential to change rapidly – the NBA and the Players Association will continue to work with leading experts and team physicians to provide up-to-date information and recommended practices that should be followed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” the memo said.
Speaking to CNBC, Marc Lasry, co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, believes the league could eventually ban fans from games. Doing so would help mitigate the spread of coronavirus and still allow NBA games to go ahead.
NCAA – Coronavirus Affecting Basketball Games and Tournaments
In college basketball, the NCAA Tournament is tipping off on March 17 and this year could really be a case of March Madness. According to the organization, the tournament will go ahead and it has set up an advisory panel to assess the risk posed by COVID-19. The panel comprises health professionals to help the NCAA manage its response to the outbreak.
“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championship and events in a safe and responsible manner,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief operating officer. “Today we plan to conduct our championships as planned. However, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.”
The National College Players Association’s response to the outbreak has been to call for the NCAA to consider cancelling games or playing them behind closed doors.
“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” reads a statement by the NCPA. “Precautions should include canceling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds … In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present.”
Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Away from the United States, the largest club basketball competition in the world outside the NBA is also cautiously navigating the evolving situation surrounding coronavirus. However, EuroLeague has already gone a step beyond the NBA and NCAA and is already playing games in empty arenas.
Italy is one of the outbreak epicenters of COVID-19, so Olimpia Milano’s recent Round 27 contest against visiting Real Madrid took place behind closed doors. EuroLeague Basketball President and CEO in Jordi Bertomeu suggested more games may follow the same model in the coming weeks.
“Well, it’s not the conditions we would like to have our games [played in] but unfortunately, we are going through this difficult process that many countries at this moment are suffering. For us, the most important thing is to protect our players, our coaches, referees, our fans.”
“We need to follow the instructions of the international authorities but also the local authorities because they know better than us what we have to do in order to protect all our communities. At the same time, we are trying to protect the regularity of the competition. Once our players are protected and our fans, then it’s time for our competition, trying to avoid problems with the calendar. So, that’s what leads us to this game without spectators, but we want to stay close to our players,” he added.