NFL considers playing in empty stadiums with 2020 season set to start in September: report

NFL considers playing in empty stadiums with 2020 season set to start in September: report
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While the NFL is still tentatively set to begin its 2020 season in September as planned, the league has explored the possibility of a truncated season or playing in empty or partially empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t know if it’ll be a one-third-filled stadium, a half-filled stadium or whatever,” a person familiar with the league’s plans told the Washington Post Wednesday. “The NFL is planning for everything from playing without fans to playing in full stadiums. We know there will be a push from the [federal] government to open things up.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries Don't move the COVID-19 goalpost Overnight Health Care: Sewage testing gives clues of coronavirus | White House says Trump would take hydroxychloroquine again | Trump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K virus deaths MORE, who has frequently sounded a note of caution on an overly hasty return to normal activities, on Wednesday outlined a plan under which he said sporting events could resume this summer in empty stadiums with players undergoing frequent-testing and self-isolation.

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“Put [players and other personnel] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well-surveilled ... have them tested like every week ... and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family,” Fauci said Wednesday. “And just let them play the season out ... If you could get on television, Major League Baseball, to start July 4 [even if] nobody comes to the stadium — you just, you do it.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE on Wednesday also held a conference call with sports league commissioners and several team owners. The president has frequently cited sports as one of the suspended activities he wants to resume sooner rather than later.

While the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball had all announced suspensions of their respective seasons, the NFL had not yet announced any such postponements. A person familiar with the planning process told the Post that “the other leagues have to go first” when it comes to contingency plans.

Another person with knowledge of talks told the Post it may become necessary to rearrange the schedule or move games if certain cities pose too high a risk to play in after the season begins.

“I would assume that’s something you’re going to have to look at,” they told the Post. “There’s no way of knowing which states will be open and which won’t. There’s no question we’re going to have to think it through and put different scenarios to the owners.”