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Dr. Fauci suggests professional sports could return with empty stadiums

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key figure in the United States’ battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, appeared on Snapchat’s Good Luck America program to discuss a handful of disease-related topics, including whether or not professional sports could return to action any time soon.

The question was specifically aimed at whether or not Major League Baseball would be able to get its season rolling during the summer and whether the NFL and college football would be able to operate in the fall. According to Dr. Fauci, the return of sports is possible, but it would require some strict guidelines.

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“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci told Snapchat’s Peter Hamby. “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.”

It’s become very clear at this point that if sports do return, empty stadiums are an inevitability. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for bans on large gatherings, and, even if there was, many would still be skeptical of being in large crowds. According to a poll conducted by Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, 72 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t attend a professional sporting event until a COVID-19 vaccine had been released.

Still, while many would avoid watching a professional sporting event in person, there’s certainly a big appetite for sports to return to television. United States President Donald Trump has included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (as well as other North American major sports commissioners) as part of a 200-person advisory board on reopening the American economy. A key part of that is getting professional sports leagues up and rolling.

The leagues are obviously interested in getting going as there’s a massive pot of cash up for grabs, though getting the players on board might be trickier. But if the United States government is not only giving leagues a green light but is actively pushing them to start playing, there really isn’t much standing in the way.

You can watch the entire interview here: