Anthony Fauci, the now-ubiquitous director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has outlined a path for sports to return in the United States behind closed doors.
Fauci, speaking with Good Luck America’s Peter Hamby, pointed toward a path for having public sports events this year.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled … and have them tested every week.”
Such a plan might work for Major League Baseball, in which talk of a plan to put all 30 teams in Arizona has met with skepticism, or Germany’s Bundesliga, in which soccer teams have returned to training with the prospect starting play in May even after Chancellor Angela Merkel extended a ban on public gatherings through Aug. 31.
Olympic sports, though, might have a more difficult path back to action.
Even without fans, athletes are often packed into close quarters. A track and field meet like the Prefontaine Classic, which is still scheduled to take place June 6-7 in Eugene, Ore., would have more 100 athletes cycling through the stadium in addition to coaches and officials. Those athletes would also be traveling in and out of Oregon, not confined to a hotel and a ballpark.
The athletes’ youth and fitness may help them stave off serious issues if infected, but Fauci also warned that the risk of illness for young people from COVID-19 — while less than the risk to older people — is greater than initially believed.
“What we’re disturbingly starting to see now, which is really troublesome is that the initial cases from China made it seem that young people and healthy people get a mild illness — it goes away, no problem,” Fauci said. “Now we’re starting to see that people who are younger are getting ill, and some of them are getting seriously ill and even dying from this.”
That discovery means athletes themselves, not just older or unhealthier fans, could be at risk of illness.
Fauci also talked with NBC’s “Today Show” Wednesday morning to talk about the possibility of states relaxing restrictions that were imposed with the onset of the pandemic:
Most Olympic sports events in the United States through June have already been canceled or postponed:
April 15-19: Equestrian, World Cup show jumping and dressage finals, Las Vegas — canceled
April 16-26: Ice hockey, world under-18 men’s championships — canceled
April 20: Track and field, Boston Marathon — postponed to Sept. 14
April 28-May 3: Water polo, World League intercontinental tournaments, Indianapolis — postponed, no new date set, may be relocated
April 29-May 3: Road cycling, Tour of the Gila, New Mexico — canceled
May 14-17: Golf, PGA Championship, San Francisco — postponed to Aug. 6-9
May 26-31: BMX racing, world championships, Houston — postponed, no new date set
June 4-7: Golf, U.S. Women’s Open, Houston — postponed to Dec. 10-13
June 6-7: Track and field, Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Ore. — still set to run as scheduled
June 12-14: Artistic swimming, World Series, Rochester, N.Y. — canceled
June 12-14: Sport climbing, World Cup, Salt Lake City — postponed, no new date set
June 18-21: Golf, U.S. Open, Mamoroneck, N.Y. — postponed to Sept. 17-20
June 25-28: Golf, Women’s PGA Championship — still set to run as scheduled
Aug. 6-15: Track and field, world championships, Eugene, Ore. — postponed to July 2021 due to postponement of the 2020 Olympics
Aug. 31-Sept. 13: Tennis, U.S. Open — still set to run as scheduled
The AVP beach volleyball tour has canceled two events and postponed two more, with the first event of the year now set for June 19-21.
In golf, the PGA Tour still has a May 21-24 tournament on the calendar. The next LPGA Tour event that has not been postponed or canceled is set for June 11-14.
In tennis, the ATP Tour‘s next U.S. event is the Hall of Fame Open, set for July 13-19 in Newport, R.I. The WTA Tour isn’t due in the United States until August.
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