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NBA Continues Game Postponements, Has No Plans To Suspend Season

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he NBA has enforced stricter COVID-19 protocols for players after being forced to postpone five games in the last week alone, but the league reportedly has no plans to suspend the season.

NBA spokesperson, Mike Bass, told ESPN the league expected some staff, players, and other participants in the 2020/21 season to test positive for COVID-19.

“We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly,” Bass said.

“There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols,” he said.

Despite the cancellation of a number of games in the past week, some teams have still been required to play with a minimum of eight available players, with a large number of players sidelined due to the NBA’s contact tracing policies.

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 within the league itself, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have announced additional rules in the hopes of keeping the season alive.

These changes include players and team staff being required to remain at their residence when in their home markets and being prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road, with exceptions primarily for practices and games.

NBPA executive director, Michele Roberts, said the new rules require masks to be worn more frequently, including during team meetings in locker rooms and courts, and players will have to limit pre-game and in-game interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socialising.

“No one wants to see more restrictions imposed,” Roberts said.

“No one also wants to see the infection rate increase if there are steps we can take to mitigate the risk.

“Our experts have concluded that these new procedures will add to our arsenal of weapons against the virus,” she said.

Despite the postponement of games and unavailability of a number of players around the league, the NBA has only recorded seven positive COVID-19 test results in the last four weeks.

New high-tech contact tracing electronic devices have been worn by NBA players and staff in recent days, with the devices tracking proximity to one another, determining whether a player needs to quarantine due to possible exposure.

A number of other protocols have been introduced as part of the recent discussions between the NBA and NBPA, including limiting pre-game team meetings to no more than 10 minutes and ensuring players do not arrive at the arena more than three hours before tip-off, and all players must wear facemasks on the bench at all times.

With regards to the NBA’s COVID-19 testing protocols, the announcement said: “Any individual who regularly visits the interior of the home of a player or team staff member for a professional purpose must undergo COVID-19 testing twice per week.”

“For any team with a positive player case or high-risk staff member case, the NBA may require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing,” the statement said.