NBA’s Warriors, NHL’s Blue Jackets to play without fans Thursday because of coronavirus fears

Also, the NHL’s Sharks say their next three home games will be fan-less, and reports say NBA owners have discussed playing all games without fans.
FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, the Golden State Warriors championship banners hang above the seating and basketball court at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors will play the Brooklyn Nets at home Thursday night, March 12, 2020, in the first NBA game without fans since the outbreak of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, the Golden State Warriors championship banners hang above the seating and basketball court at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors will play the Brooklyn Nets at home Thursday night, March 12, 2020, in the first NBA game without fans since the outbreak of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) [ ERIC RISBERG | AP ]
Published March 12, 2020

Some NBA and NHL games tonight will be played without fans, baseball’s Mariners said they will move their games out of Seattle for the rest of the month, and next week’s world figure skating championships in Montreal were canceled Wednesday, all as precautions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Shortly after San Francisco Mayor London Breed banned all gatherings of 1,000 or more people for at least two weeks, the Warriors announced they would go ahead with their next home game, tonight against the Nets, but with no fans in the building.

“There’s a little shock, for sure,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said. “I’ve been in this league for a very long time and never had to deal with anything like this. It’ll be different; it will be weird.”

Along with the Warriors’ next game, a Post Malone concert and three other events that had been scheduled at Chase Center, which seats more than 18,000, have been postponed or canceled through March 21.

Related: NCAA bans fans from March Madness tournaments

“We don’t know what happens after that,” Warriors president Rick Welts said. “San Francisco has really been the first domino to fall here.”

NBA owners are leaning toward a proposal to temporarily play all games without fans in the buildings, the Associated Press reported. Owners met via teleconference Wednesday and had more talks scheduled today with the intention of finalizing plans so an announcement could be made by the league, the AP said.

The owners discussed an option to temporarily suspend play of all games, but the idea of playing without fans — and stressing that it would be for the short term — is what received the most support, the AP said.

In the NHL, the Sharks said that their next three homes games — March 19 versus Montreal, March 21 versus Boston and March 29 versus Arizona — will be played as scheduled at SAP Center in San Jose but will be closed to the general public. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department on Monday announced a legal order barring all mass gatherings through the end of the month to help stop the virus’ spread.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine announced plans to ban “mass gatherings.” In response, the Blue Jackets became the first NHL team to say they’ll hold home games without fans in the stands, starting with tonight’s game against the Penguins. The game will be limited “to home and visiting club personnel, credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff, and NHL officials,” the Blue Jackets said.

They said the new restrictions for home games will be in effect for as long as the state’s mandate on large gatherings is. The Lightning are scheduled to visit the Blue Jackets on April 2.

Related: Lightning, NHL adjust to new coronavirus-influenced media policies

The group that owns the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals said their games would go on despite a D.C. Department of Health recommendation that “non-essential mass gatherings” be postponed or canceled.

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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. 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.

“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 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.

Related: Rays' Blake Snell says coronavirus is overhyped

• 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 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.