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TAMPA — The landscape of sports changed dramatically throughout the day Wednesday at professional leagues and college athletics began to take major steps to combat the spread of coronavirus by not only closing off games to fans, but postponing games altogether.
Wednesday brought the first case of a professional athlete testing positive for coronavirus.
And at arenas in Oklahoma City and Indianapolis, players were quarantined well into the night.
And this appears to be just the beginning.
As of Wednesday night, the Lightning were still scheduled to play home games at Amalie Arena on Friday and Saturday, the Vipers’ home game at Raymond James was still on, and plans to run the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend remained as scheduled, even as three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Florida Wednesday evening.
Here’s a look at the timeline of events Wednesday:
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee banned gatherings of more than 250 people in King County — which includes Seattle — and neighboring Snohomish and Pierce counties, forcing the Seattle Mariners baseball team to find an alternate site to play its home games once the regular season starts later this month. The XFL’s Seattle Dragons will play home games the next two weekends in Seattle without fans in the stands.
The city of San Francisco banned all gatherings of 1,000 individuals or more in the city, forcing the Golden State Warriors to play in front of no fans and leaving the San Francisco Giants to adjust their first regular-season home games.
The NCAA announces that all upcoming championship events, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, will be played with only essential staff and limited family members in attendance. The first and second rounds of the men’s tournament is slated for March 19 and 21 at Amalie Arena.
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The NBA game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City was abruptly postponed and fans were sent home, sending forth a bizarre sequence of events that ultimately led the league to suspend all games.
Following the lead of other conferences, the American Athletics Conference announces the men’s basketball conference tournament, which begins Thursday afternoon in Fort Worth with USF playing UCF, will go on with limited access.
ESPN reports that Major League Baseball, which closed clubhouse access to media and non-essential personnel earlier this week but has remained committed to playing spring training games, will hold a conference call with teams and league officials to consider their options.
The first report that Jazz player Rudy Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus.
ESPN reports that the NBA has suspended play. Jazz and Thunder players were quarantined in the arena. A video of Gobert touching reporters’ recorders after media access two days ago. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reacts in shock, saying he will put a program together for arena workers.
College basketball conference tournament games continue, and at the Big Ten tournament in Chicago, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg leaves the bench before the end of the game. He had been feeling ill and still coached. Hoiberg was sent to the hospital, and the Nebraska basketball team was quarantined.
The NHL released a statement reacting to the NBA’s decision to suspend its schedule. The league ominously announces that is will have an update on Thursday.
Jazz players were still being quarantined inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After being quarantined inside Bankers Life Field House in Indianapolis, Nebraska basketball players are allowed to leave the building. At 12:43 a.m. Thursday, Nebraska announced Hoiberg had been diagnosed with influenza A and released.
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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide
Q&A: The latest and all your questions answered.
PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.
BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.
STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.
FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.
WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.
READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.
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