The nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases said that he approves of the NBA’s restart plan, calling it “quite creative” and a possible blueprint for other professional sports leagues to follow.
“I think they might very well be quite successful with it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Stadium. “They really wanted to make sure that the safety of the players was paramount.”
Fauci’s comments came after reports surfaced of some players being concerned and debating whether the proposed July 31 restart date for the 2019-20 season in a quarantined environment in Orlando — without fan attendance — would be in the overall best interests of players. In addition to safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, some players say a restart would distract from social justice efforts just as momentum for police reform is gaining traction. Many players have been active in protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, who died after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes
And players are concerned about three months of being sequestered from family and friends.
Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci says NBA plan to test everybody and set up a bubble could be used as a model by other sports leagues. https://t.co/S8gN08tmYF
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) June 14, 2020
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has approved further negotiations with the league on the proposed restart but has not given its final approval.
The NBA plan calls for 22 teams to play eight regular-season games at Disney World in Orlando, with everyone involved being tested for the virus and quarantined. Then the playoffs would extend into early October.
Said Fauci: “I actually have looked at that plan. … What they are really trying to do 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.”