Wednesday night’s NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz was meant to be a showstopper. A face-off between two teams battling for a top-six finish in their respective divisions. Instead, play broke down shortly before the opening tip-off, with the game called off and fans asked to leave the stadium. Confusion set in and theories were flying, but now we have an answer, and it’s precisely what we feared. A player has contracted the coronavirus, prompting the NBA to suspend the 2019-20 season.
“The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, Wednesday’s game was cancelled. The affected player was not in the arena,” the NBA said in a statement today.
“The NBA is suspending gameplay following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Reports are suggesting the player in question is Utah centre Rudy Gobert, who retired from the game due to illness, however, nothing is confirmed. If Gobert has contracted the coronavirus, it makes his post-match press conference jibe a few days ago seem a little less funny.
The NBA’s announcement after the city of San Francisco announced a two-week ban on all gatherings of 1,000 or more people due to the coronavirus risk, including games played at the Golden State Warriors home court. The Warriors had suggested the game would go ahead as normal, albeit with one striking absentee – the fans. Now, that notion seems hard to ponder.
Due to escalating concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, tomorrow night’s game vs. the Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans. Fans with tickets to this game will receive a refund in the amount paid. pic.twitter.com/DMpO71ocvg
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 11, 2020
With the NBA season shelved for the time being, attention now turns to other sporting events. The Spanish football league is playing games, including for the high-profile match between Real Madrid and Eibar on Friday to an empty stadium, with fans banned from entering. The Australian Grand Prix is still set to go ahead, despite news that three team members are in quarantine. Even Forrest Gump, everyone’s favourite uncle Tom Hanks isn’t immune to coronavirus. The Hollywood actor is down under for the filming of the new Elvis Presley biopic and has reportedly caught the deadly virus.
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) March 12, 2020
Hanks said he and wife Rita Wilson will be tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Indeed it appears the global coronavirus threat is looming larger every day, taking down sporting titans and celebrity icons with apparent ease. It goes without saying, the NBA season being postponed is a hit, but should anything happen to Tom Hanks, we’d be inconsolable.