The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended against holding events with 50 or more people over the next eight weeks as the U.S. scrambles to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has so far sickened more than 3,499 people in the U.S. and killed 63.
That announcement likely means no NBA, NHL or MLB action until at least mid-May, and probably not until June. Fifty is such a small number that two basketball teams playing in an empty arena probably couldn’t meet the requirement considering coaches, trainers, referees and TV crews need to be on hand, in addition to the players.
Hockey and baseball would also be out of the question. While the NCAA received some blowback for canceling the College World Series (among other championships) months in advance, it’s now clear that the decision may have been taken out of its hands anyway.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” the CDC said in a statement.
The rest of the NBA’s G League season is expected to be canceled, according to ESPN; the NBA hopes to return to the court in mid-June, without fans.
CDC recommendation of no events of 50-plus people for next two months comes as a number of NBA owners and executives increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play — with no fans. League’s scouting for possible arena dates all the way thru August.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2020
The NHL — which runs on a similar schedule to the NBA — and MLB — which has yet to begin its 2020 campaign — also face the prospect of extended delay.
The NBA and NHL playoffs usually run until June. MLB’s regular season usually runs from late-March through September. But this year, sports fans will have to wait a long time to get their fix of spring games.