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Coronavirus: Major League Baseball could be first professional sport to return as soon as May

Games would be played in empty stadiums

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 07 April 2020 20:18
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America's pastime could be the first professional sport to resume in the US under a reported plan that would see Major League Baseball games played in empty stadiums as early as May.

Sources confirmed to The Independent that the plan would require all 30 teams play televised games at stadiums with no fans in the stands. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they have given their support.

The plan would adhere to strict isolation and promote social distancing by sequestering players, coaching staff and other essential personal in isolation at local hotels and only travel to and from games in the Phoenix area, including at Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and potentially other nearby fields.

In response to the report, the MLB put out a statement on Tuesday saying they have been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved, but that no decisions had been made.

"While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan," the statement said.

"While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association. The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus."

The MLB Players Association did not comment on the plan, but an official with the association confirmed preliminary meetings were held on Monday and further meetings would be held in the near future.

The plan would require the buy-in of players, who would have to be separate and isolated from their families for more than four months if the Covid-19 outbreak is not controlled in 2020.

If a deal is agreed to, logistical issues around coronavirus testing, lodging, security, and transportation would be ironed out during a two-week training camp before the season begins.

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