Hoping to attend a Toronto Raptors game at Amalie Arena while the team makes its temporary home in Tampa for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season?
If you’re fortunate enough to do so, don’t expect to have much company, the country’s foremost authority on the COVID-19 pandemic said earlier this week.
While the Raptors have yet to decide whether fans will be permitted to attend games, it’s unlikely NBA teams will be able to host full-capacity crowds this season, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
Packed crowds at sports venues are one of “the last thing(s) that you’re gonna see” as the pandemic continues into 2021, Fauci told Yahoo! Sports’ Henry Bushnell in a phone interview.
The short-term prognosis for capacity crowds at Bucs, Lightning or early-season Rays games doesn’t sound any more promising, as approved vaccines may not be distributed to the general public until late spring or early summer.
Mid-to-late-season Rays games might be a more realistic possibility, though crowds have seldom been a problem at Tropicana Field.
As for the Super Bowl in Tampa in February, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month the league wants to have as many fans as safety allows. So far, average seating capacity for NFL stadiums authorized to host fans this season has been around 20 percent.
“We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people (from) the end of December through January, February, March,” Fauci told Bushnell. “By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June.
“So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable (with full sports stadiums) — if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”
Asked about the likelihood of full NFL stadiums in September, Fauci said, “I think that’s possible.”
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