(Reuters) – The National Basketball Association (NBA) said on Wednesday it was suspending the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus.
The test result was reported shortly before the Jazz were due to play the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game was then scrapped.
The league said the affected player, reportedly Jazz center Rudy Gobert, was not in the arena.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said.
“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Players from teams that Jazz has played in the past 10 days were told to self-quarantine, ESPN reported, citing sources.
Those teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors, the ESPN report added.
More than 126,000 people have been infected globally by the flu-like virus and more than 4,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally based on official announcements. In the United States, about 1,280 people have been infected with 38 deaths.
The pandemic rocked the North American sports calendar on Wednesday, leading to the cancellation of the figure-skating world championships and the announcement that college basketball’s annual ‘March Madness’ tournament would take place without fans in attendance.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James tweeted http://bit.ly/2IF2noL: “Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc.
“What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe,” he wrote, likely alluding to the death of NBA great Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in January.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his team were “stunned.”
“This is a very serious time right now. I think the league moved appropriately and prudently,” he said.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the situation was “crazy”.
“This can’t be true,” he told ESPN as his team played the Denver Nuggets.
“This is not in the realm of possibilities. This seems more like out of a movie than reality.”
A game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings was also called off at the last minute, leading to tears from at least one young fan in attendance.
The NBA playoffs were scheduled to tip off on April 18 with the finals set to begin on June 4.
Following the NBA’s announcement, the National Hockey League said it was consulting with medical experts and would have a further update on Thursday.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien and Rama Venkat; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Stephen Coates)