(AP) - The NBA became the first major American sports league to suspend play because of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions about the future of college basketball’s March Madness and other pro sports.
Utah’s scheduled game at Oklahoma City was postponed Wednesday night and the NBA suspended its season a few minutes later after a Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
The player is star center Rudy Gobert, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team had confirmed it publicly.
The positive test result was reported shortly before the scheduled tip-off.
The Jazz released a statement saying a player — they did not identify Gobert — tested negative Wednesday morning for flu, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection.
That player’s symptoms diminished as the day went along, but the decision was made to test for COVID-19. That test came back with a preliminary positive result.
NCAA President Mark Emmert announced earlier in the day that only essential staff and limited family will be allowed to attend the upcoming NCAA basketball tournaments, draining the signature school spirit from one of the biggest events on the sports calendar.
Baseball’s Mariners say they will move their games out of Seattle for all of March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The National Hockey League says it is aware of the NBA’s decision to suspend its season and is continuing to consult with medical experts and evaluate options.
It expects to provide another update Thursday. So far, the NHL has not made any declarations about even holding games without fans in the stands.
The Columbus Blue Jackets became the first team to announce that, beginning with their game Thursday night against Pittsburgh.
The San Jose Sharks said they would hold their three home games in March in an empty arena.