Jun 20, 2020 - Sports

"Not so fast" for return of sports as athletes test positive for coronavirus

Screenshot from CNN that depicts which universities have confirmed coronavirus cases in their athletic departments
Screenshot: CNN

Friday was not a good day for sports as teams report an increase in positive coronavirus tests among their players.

Why it matters: Considering the NBA shut down in March over one positive test, and leagues and schools are now starting up again with hundreds of cases, there’s reason to be concerned about the viability of sports this summer and into the fall.

The state of play:

  • Nick Watney tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from the weekend’s PGA Tour event.
  • The Blue Jays and Phillies shut down their spring training facilities following outbreaks.
  • Clemson became the latest university to announce a flurry of positive tests among athletes and staff (including 23 football players).

The other side: Our knowledge about the virus has changed a lot since March, with improved testing and tracing, and a greater understanding of preventative measures and transmissibility, among other things.

  • The vast majority of athletes have not tested positive, and there are protocols in place for when someone does.

The bottom line: The return of sports amid a pandemic is complicated, to say the least, and requires extensive planning to mitigate risks.

  • But even the best laid plans will still likely result in positive tests.
  • So the fate of sports in 2020 could come down to leagues’ ability to contain the virus, rather than avoid it altogether.
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