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 FauciNIH official 'to retire' after RedState criticism of Fauci surfaces The Hill's 12:30 Report: War over the Supreme Court North Carolina couple married 50 years dies minutes apart of coronavirus holding hands 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 TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid 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.”