The NBA has suspended its season in the United States “until further notice” due to coronavirus.
The decision came after Wednesday night’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed soon before match time after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19.
More than 1,200 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US and 38 people have died from the respiratory disease.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s (Wednesday’s) schedule of games until further notice,” the Association said in a statement.
“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The NBA, one of the biggest and most watched sporting leagues in the world, is nearing the end of its home-and-away season.
Its play-offs were due to start on April 18.
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The league has been thinking of holding games in empty arenas for some time as a move to address the spread of the virus.
This idea seemed closer to fruition on Wednesday morning, when the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, told a Congressional committee that he would recommend the NBA not allow fans at games in response to the coronavirus.
“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Dr Fauci said.
“If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.”
It came at around the same time Donald Trump addressed the US and announced a host of new measures, notably suspending all travel from Europe, excluding the UK, for 30 days starting from Friday.
Also on Wednesday, Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife Rita Wilson have both tested positive for Covid-19 in Australia, where he was filming an Elvis Presley biopic.