Dr. Anthony Fauci is giving the NBA’s return-to-play plan a stamp of approval.
The leading expert on COVID-19 in the United States told Stadium he found the plan to play games at Walt Disney World Resort “quite creative” and potentially a mold for other sports to follow.
Fauci: NBA might be very successful in Orlando
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and has cautioned against large gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis. He explained how sports could return this calendar year back in April with the same basic stipulations that the NBA has proposed.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told @Stadium he is supportive of the NBA’s restart plan: “It’s quite creative.. I think they might very well be quite successful with it... They really wanted to make sure that the safety of the players was paramount.” pic.twitter.com/qwo5bCDrVt— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Fauci to Stadium:
“I actually have looked at that plan and it’s really quite creative what they are really trying to do — and I think they might very well be successful with it — is to create a situation where it is as safe as it possibly could be for the players by creating this bubble. Essentially testing everybody, make sure that you start with a baseline of everybody being negative and trying to make sure that there is no influx into that cohort of individuals and do a tournament-type play.
“It’s not the classic basketball season, but certainly for the people who are thirsting for basketball [and] who love basketball the way I do, it’s something that I think is a sound plan. I was very pleased to see that the intent was not reckless at all. They really wanted to make sure that the safety of the players and the people associated with the players was paramount. So I think that you might be able to do something like that with basketball. Could you extrapolate that to some of the other sports possibly? I think they should look at that model, see how it works, and then take it from there. Maybe modifications of that for some of the other sports.”
NBA’s plan to return met with concern
The plan is for the NBA to bring 22 teams to Orlando, quarantine them and play out eight regular season games before heading into the playoffs. It has been met with skepticism by some players and questions include if it truly is a bubble scenario.
The NBA’s return isn’t approved yet and NBPA vice president Kyrie Irving hosted a call Friday night for players to discuss the pros and cons of returning to action. Most of the conversation centered around social activism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody and the ensuing protests.
Irving is reportedly concerned about the optics of a predominantly Black league coming back during a pandemic to entertain the nation. Clippers point guard Lou Williams called sports at this juncture “a distraction” rather than a healing moment.
Other leagues instituted one-site plans
The WNBA also plans to do a bubble-site tournament at IMG Academy in Florida that would have each of the 12 teams playing 22 games from July to October. The players have the proposal and an announcement could come Monday.
The NWSL plans to play a tournament at one site beginning two weeks from now and the MLS will start July 8 with a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando.
Major League Baseball is still handing proposals back and forth between league and players. The NFL plans to continue on as scheduled with games farther off in the fall. It is reportedly considering dropping the preseason from four games to two.
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