The National Basketball Association (NBA) has enforced stricter COVID-19 protocols after postponing five games in the last week, with no plans to suspend the season currently being discussed.
NBA spokesperson, Mike Bass, told ESPN the league had anticipated there being positive coronavirus tests amongst its staff, players and participants throughout the 2020/21 season whilst COVID-19 is still present in the US.
“We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” Bass said.
“There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols.
Despite the postponement of five games in the last week, some teams have seen their games go ahead in the face of having only eight available players, after large numbers of the squad have been forced into isolation as part of the NBA's contact tracing policies.
The league, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have reacted quickly to the rise in cases amongst its team by announcing stricter rules to ensure the season doesn't suffer the same fate as the 2019/20 season, that was dramatically halted after the emergence of the virus across the US.
The new rules include players and staff being required to remain at their residence when in their home markets and being prohibited from leaving their hotels when playing on the road, with exceptions for practices and games.
NBPA executive director, Michele Roberts, added that other provisions include masks being required to be worn more often, such as in team meetings and in locker rooms and courts, as well as players limiting pre-game and in-game interactions and no extended interactions.
Roberts said: “No one wants to see more restrictions imposed. No one also wants to see the infection rate increase if there are steps we can take to mitigate the risk. Our experts have concluded that these new procedures will add to our arsenal of weapons against the virus.
High-tech contact tracing electronic devices have been worn by NBA players and staff to track the proximity an individual comes into contact with someone, determining whether they need to quarantine after a possible exposure.
On the NBA’s COVID-19 testing protocols, an announcement said: “Any individual who regularly visits the interior of the home of a player or team staff member for a professional purpose must undergo COVID-19 testing twice per week.”
“For any team with a positive player case or high-risk staff member case, the NBA may require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing."
Five games were postponed in the NBA in the last week, however, there has only been seven positive cases found in the last four weeks.
Author: Jake Wilkin