NBA suspends season until further notice over coronavirus

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert reportedly has tested positive.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dribbles the ball as New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis (1) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Wednesday.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dribbles the ball as New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis (1) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Wednesday. [ SARAH STIER | AP ]
Published March 12, 2020|Updated March 12, 2020

The NBA suspended its season “until further notice” Wednesday night after a Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus, a move that came hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.

Neither the league nor the Jazz named the player who tested positive. Media reports said it was center Rudy Gobert.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of (Wednesday night’s) schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The last scheduled NBA game, between the Pelicans and Kings in Sacramento, was called off at the last minute because one of the officials worked a previous game with the Jazz player who has tested positive.

Players from teams the Jazz have played within the past 10 days are being told to self-quarantine, ESPN reported. Those teams are the Cavaliers, Knicks, Celtics, Pistons and Raptors.

The Jazz player’s test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the scheduled tipoff time for the game at Oklahoma City was called off. Players were on the floor for warmups and tipoff was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

The affected player wasn’t in the arena, the NBA said.

There was no postgame media availability.

The Jazz released a statement saying the player tested negative earlier in the day for flu, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. The player’s symptoms diminished as the day went along, but the decision was made to test for COVID-19 anyway. That test came back with a preliminary positive result.

“The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City,” the Jazz said, adding that updates would come as appropriate.

The league expects the shutdown to last a minimum of two weeks but cautioned the time frame is very fluid, the Associated Press reported.

The coronavirus, technically known as COVID-19, was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

“It’s a very serious time right now,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team hosted the Hornets. “I think the league moved appropriately and prudently, and we’ll all just have to monitor the situation and see where it goes from here.”

Earlier in the night, it was reported that owners — who met by teleconference Wednesday — were largely in support of a plan to play games in empty arenas in the short term.

In other sports Wednesday:

• The Mariners said they would move home games from Seattle through the end of March due to . Washington Gov. Jay Inslee prohibited gatherings of more than 250 people in Seattle, which has experienced the most COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The Mariners and Major League Baseball had not announced where the team will play its first two series: against the Rangers from March 26-29 and the Twins from March 30-April 1.

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“While we hope to be back to playing baseball in Seattle as soon as possible, the health and safety of our community is the most important consideration,” the Mariners said.

The Rays aren’t scheduled to visit the Mariners until August.

The Athletics are working with Major League Baseball to figure out alternate plans for their season-opening series at the Coliseum after the city of Oakland imposed a ban on gatherings of 1,000 or more people through the end of March.Oakland is scheduled to host the Twins for a four-game series beginning March 26.

The Giants earlier in the day announced they wouldn’t play a scheduled exhibition game against the A’s at Oracle Park on March 24.

• The Quebec government called off the world figure skating championships scheduled to begin Monday in Montreal. Health Minister Danielle McCann cited coronavirus fears. The week-long event was expected to host 200 skaters from more than 50 countries.

• Italian soccer club Juventus said one of its players, defender Daniele Rugani, tested positive for COVID-19. Rugani, who also plays for the Italian national team, is the first player in the country’s top soccer division to test positive. Juventus, which has won the last eight Serie A titles, said Rugani and those known to have had contact with him were being isolated. All sports in Italy previously were suspended until April 3, and Wednesday, the country said it was closing almost all businesses besides groceries and pharmacies.

• The Ivy League canceled all spring sports. The conference had already canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

• The major auto racing circuits said they planned to race as scheduled this weekend. NASCAR is scheduled to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Reporters will observe a 6-foot buffer when interviewing drivers.

• Less than 24 hours before the first race, the International Ski Federation canceled the women’s Alpine World Cup races in Are, Sweden, handing Federica Brignone of Italy the overall title and denying American Mikaela Shiffrin a return to racing this season. Shiffrin, the defending overall champion, had announced earlier in the day that she would compete at the event after taking a six-week break after the death of her father. The absence cost her the lead in the overall standings. Next week’s World Cup finals for women and men in Cortina d’Ampezzo had already been canceled because of the virus outbreak in northern Italy.

• Women’s tennis’ Fed Cup final in Hungary was postponed after the local government said it was prohibiting public indoor gatherings of more than 100 people. The International Tennis Federation said it would try to find another suitable date.

• The International Gymnastics Federation said it was postponing two World Cup events due to start next week. One is an all-around competition in Stuttgart, Germany, and the other is an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar. They double as qualifiers for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. The federation said it was also postponing a rhythmic gymnastics World Cup event and a trampoline World Cup event. Both were due to be held in Italy next month.

• The governing body of European soccer said the games between Sevilla and Roma in Spain, and Inter Milan and Getafe in Italy “will not take place as scheduled.” Italian soccer club Roma had said earlier Wednesday it would not make its trip to Seville because “the plane from Italy was not authorized to land in Spain.” Getafe president Angel Torres had said his team would not travel to Italy because he did not want to risk his players’ health by going to an area struggling to contain the spread of the virus. The Italian soccer federation ordered its women’s team to return home before the end of the Algarve Cup tournament in Portugal, fearing it would not be able to get a flight back. On Wednesday, the Portuguese soccer federation canceled the final between Italy and Germany.