Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a prominent member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, says that sports leagues could resume play this summer if “no one comes to the stadium.”
In response to a question from Snapchat’s Peter Hamby about a timetable for the return of baseball, Fauci said the summertime was a possibility if fans were excluded and teams regularly tested their personnel.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. … Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”
Fauci hastened to add that he believed fans would still want to watch games, even if they could not attend.
“Fauci’s comments come a week after 72% of Americans polled by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus,” ESPN reports. “Just 13% of Americans said they would feel comfortable attending games the way they had in the past. A second poll this week had a slight plurality, 46% to 36%, saying the NFL season should not open as scheduled in early September.”
On Tuesday, President Trump used his Rose Garden coronavirus task force briefing to tell the country about the new commission tasked with getting America back on the playing field. The president selected several sports league commissioners and executives to serve as advisors on the group.
Other key NFL executives, such as Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, have also said that a return to sports could come soon, but without fans. The fact that Fauci informs much of the president’s thinking on how the country responds to the coronavirus, could very well mean that his opinion would also be taken seriously by the sports task force.
If so, it sounds like there will likely be a lot of empty seats at baseball and football games.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn