President Donald Trump: 'Many' Sports Leagues Expected to Restart Without Fans

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2020

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 16, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday he discussed how professional sports leagues might resume play at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic with various commissioners and team owners during a Wednesday conference call.  

"Many of them are going to be starting without the fans," he said, per Chris Johnston of Hockey Night in Canada. "... It'll go that way and then the fans will start coming in—maybe they'll be separated by two seats—and then ultimately we want to have packed arenas."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the leading voices in Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force, also spoke about the possibility of sports events eventually resuming:

On Wednesday, Trump met with key leaders in professional sports, including league commissioners Adam Silver (NBA), Rob Manfred (MLB), Don Garber (MLS), Gary Bettman (NHL) and Roger Goodell (NFL), alongside team owners like Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks) and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys). 

As of now, leagues like the NBA and NHL have put their season on hiatus, while the MLB postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus. 

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Per Sam Amick of The Athletic, "in making the rounds with [owners, players and agents], I quickly found it apparent that there's a shared goal of finding a way of finishing this campaign and a widespread sense that it's still feasible. Somehow. Some way. Without fans being present at games, of course."

Amick added that there is "widespread optimism" that the NBA might be able to resume its season at some point. 

The NFL, meanwhile, is still planning to begin in early September and play a full season, though contingency plans are being considered, per Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab. And Major League Baseball is reportedly considering plans that would include all teams playing in one state like Arizona and isolating between games, per ESPN's Jeff Passan

However, some athletes have reasonable concerns about the leagues restarting and the contingency plans being suggested:

So much remains up in the air. One thing seems like a safe bet, however—if sports do return, they will almost assuredly do so without fans in the stands, at least initially. 

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