NBA shut down, fans shut out as coronavirus hits US sport
NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Sport across the United States and Canada was gripped by coronavirus fears, with the NBA suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19.
The NBA's move followed a dramatic last-minute postponement of Utah's scheduled game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, league officials taking action after deliberating during the day how best to proceed in the face of the outbreak.
"The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight's schedule of games until further notice," the league said.
"The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."
The move came days after the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California became the first high-profile casualty of the crisis.
Mounting concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 also prompted Canadian authorities to cancel the World Figure Skating Championships, which were due to take place in Montreal from March 16-22.
The decision came after escalating anxiety about the potential for unchecked transmission of the virus among fans attending sporting events.
Shortly after the NBA's decision, the NHL said it would update the status of its season on Thursday.
"The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA's decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus," the NHL said in a statement.
"The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update (Thursday)."
Pending league-wide action, the NHL's San Jose Sharks said they would play the three home games remaining this month without fans after a ban on mass gatherings in Santa Clara County in California.
The Santa Clara County edict also forced the postponement of a March 21 Major League Soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City.
The NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets said they would host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday behind closed doors after an order banning mass gatherings in Ohio, set to be the first major professional sports event to be played in an empty arena.
The San Francisco Giants baseball team said a planned pre-season game against the Oakland Athletics on March 24 would be rescheduled.
In Washington state, authorities announced a ban on all gatherings of more than 250 people in three counties until at least the end of March, including the area which covers Seattle.