NBA Reportedly Tells Teams to Prepare to Play Games Without Fans Due to Coronavirus (UPDATE)

The NBA may soon ban spectators from future games in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


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UPDATED 3/11, 2:00 p.m. ET: Chase Center will be closed to fans when the Golden State Warriors will play their Thursday night game against the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Times' Marc Stein reports.

The Warriors, league sources say, will be directed to play host to the Nets on Thursday night at Chase Center in a game CLOSED to fans

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 11, 2020

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski adds that the Warriors are planning to play "foreseeable home games" without any fans in attendance. 

The Golden State Warriors are planning to play foreseeable home games without fans in observance of the San Francisco Health Office's order prohibiting group of events of 1K or more from assembling, source tells ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 11, 2020

See original story below. 

As coronavirus cases continue to surge, sports organizations around the world have implemented measures to combat the spread of the deadly disease. And it appears the NBA may soon follow suit.

Sources say the organization has notified teams about the possibility of playing games without any spectators. The Athletic's Shams Charania shared the news Friday night, citing a purported memo that advised all franchises to prepare for such a move—"should it be necessary."

Sources: The NBA has sent a memo to its franchises explaining that, due to coronavirus outbreak, teams should be preparing to play games without fans in attendance and identifying “essential staff” present for these games -- should it be necessary.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020

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.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020

The New York Times' Marc Stein shared a similar tweet Friday night, stating franchises were told to develop plans if it became "necessary to play a game with only essential staff." This means fans, members of the press, and lower-level staffers would be prohibited from attending.

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

The NBA has also reportedly proposed "temperature checks" for anyone who is essential to the game: This would include coaches, referees, and, of course, players.

Among the measures that the NBA wants its teams to start preparing for is the possibility --- if the situation worsens --- for instituting "temperature checks" on various players, team staff members, referees and anyone else deemed "essential" to stage a game in such conditions

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 7, 2020

LeBron James also expressed his desire to not play if the NBA is barring fans from attending games because of the coronavirus.

The news comes just days after the NBA released a memo that included short-term recommendations for coronavirus prevention. These tips included offering fist-bumps instead of high-fives or handshakes, washing their hands for at least 20 seconds, utilizing hand sanitizer, and "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 memo read, as reported by CNBC. "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."

On March 9, Adrian Wojnarowski retweeted that the NBA is having a conference call with owners and executives about more drastic steps on coronavirus precautions.

Concerns are escalating among owners and executives that more drastic steps could be coming for the league, including games played with only essential personnel in arenas; the precise scenario that the NBA has required teams be prepared to execute.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 9, 2020

Also on March 9, the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS released a joint statement announcing that they would be implementing restrictions on access to locker rooms due to coronavirus concerns. 

Enclosed is the official joint statement from the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS on their new locker room access restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis ...

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