The NBA has reportedly released internal memos to its teams asking organizations to start “developing” contingency plans if the spread of coronavirus continues, including the concept of playing games with only “essential staff present.”
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the league has circulated memos warning teams to put contingency plans in place if the league is forced to ban spectators from NBA games.
The first known instance of a situation like one the league is preparing for happened on Friday, as a D-III men’s basketball NCAA Tournament game was played with no spectators when a student from one of the schools involved was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier in the week. That hasn’t happened in the NBA just yet, but as NBA cities see citizens diagnosed with or put into quarantine for coronavirus concerns, the possibility grows that similar rules will need to be put in place.
NBA has been sending several informational memos to teams in order to prepare for whatever develops from coronavirus situation. A reminder of existing rules regarding postponement or cancellations of games was provided Friday night. https://t.co/17ac6wSiDt
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020
As Marc Stein of The New York Times pointed out on Friday, the teams were asked to “develop” plans, but canceling games or banning fans would largely be left up to the Association itself.
Postponing or canceling any game due to the coronavirus is a league office decision but the NBA, sources say, has notified teams to start “developing” contingency plans in case “it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present” — no fans, media, etc
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 7, 2020
It’s good the NBA is being proactive about these circumstances, but the news will do little to quell any concerns people have about the spread of the disease and the extent to which everyday life will be interrupted by the battle with the virus in the coming weeks and months.