From youth hockey to the NBA, here's how sports organizations want players to avoid coronavirus

A major hockey organization tied to youth and recreational players recommends a guideline for opposing teams after games.


Sports groups are seeking to avoid a rapidly contagious virus by giving players a simple tip: fist-bumps.

USA Hockey, which is linked to youth, adult and disability programming as well as the Olympic teams, has recommended a guideline to use fist bumps with hockey gloves on in handshake lines.


It's a measure that mirrors an instruction given to hockey players in 2018 for Winter Olympics games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, due to the highly contagious norovirus.

Some of the organization's other recommendations due to the virus include not sharing water bottles or towels.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said this week it has canceled six different tournaments — events that were to take place in March and April in Estonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain. Pro leagues in Switzerland and China have also been affected, some games called off, others played without fans.

The NHL hasn’t gone as far as the NBA did earlier this week. The NHL is, however, not allowing its employees to make work-related trips outside of North America in response to the global fears over the coronavirus, and if any of those employees go on their own to a country where the virus has been found they will be quarantined before being able to return to work.

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a ban on all events larger than 1,000 people across the city on Twitter. The ban will apply to all events at Chase Center, including Golden State Warriors games, the Chronicle reported.

As a result of the ban on large gatherings, Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets will be played without fans, the Warriors confirmed in a statement. All paying fans will receive refunds.

The NBA has told players to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs, the league’s latest response in its ongoing monitoring of the coronavirus crisis that has spread to most corners of the planet. An NBA memo said athletes should use those gestures instead of high-fives with fans.

The league, in a memo sent to teams and obtained by The Associated Press, offered 10 recommendations to players with hopes of decreasing risks of getting the virus — among them, not taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers.

The NBA also told teams that it is consulting “with infectious disease experts, including the Centers for Disease Control” and infectious disease researchers at Columbia University in New York.

“We are also in regular communication with each other, NBA teams including team physicians and athletic trainers, other professional sports leagues, and of course, many of you,” the league wrote in its memo to teams, their physicians and athletic training staffs. ESPN first reported on the contents of the memo.

Some players are already heeding the advice.

“Corona," Bobby Portis of the New York Knicks said as he offered some fist-bump greetings on Monday night before his team faced the Houston Rockets.

Jimmy Butler, of the Miami Heat, said he wasn't necessarily worried or thinking about avoiding high-fives.

“I don't think about any of that," Butler said. “I'm still going to be who I am. We're still going to be who we are."

Portland guard CJ McCollum said in a tweet that he is taking the matter seriously, saying he is “officially taking a break from signing autographs until further notice.”

“You just have to be careful," McCollum said Monday night in Orlando. “Obviously it's affecting people, especially people who are displaying weaker immune systems and people over 60. You've got to check yourself and wash your hands, try to reduce contact with outsiders and outside germs."

McCollum has tweeted or retweeted several virus-related posts in the last couple days.

“The coronavirus remains a situation with the potential to change rapidly — the NBA and the Players Association will continue to work with leading experts and team physicians to provide up-to-date information and recommended practices that should be followed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” the league said in the memo.

Many of the tips offered by the NBA fell under common-sense level of best practices when it comes to illness prevention: avoiding contact with people who are sick, staying home when feeling ill, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. The league also suggested players make sure they “are up to date with all routine vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will not be open to the general public because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Emmert said in a statement Wednesday that he made the decision to conduct both the men's and women's tournaments, which begin next week, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance. The decision comes after the NCAA's COVID-19 advisory panel of medical experts recommended against playing sporting events open to the general public.

Emmert said the NCAA also was looking into moving the men's Final Four from Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium to a smaller arena.

In response to the outbreak, the 2020 College Basketball Invitational has been canceled. The Ivy League announced that it would cancel all spring athletics in response to the outbreak.

The worldwide death toll has topped 4,000 and the number of those infected rose to more than 100,000 on every continent but Antarctica. In the U.S., the virus has been blamed for multiple deaths.

“Containment is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Officials with Major League Baseball previously said they, like the NBA and NHL, have been consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations on a regular basis about COVID-19.