(Reuters) – The NBA will take a flexible approach into the 2020-21 season that begins on Tuesday, with protocols in place that Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum feels will allow games to be played safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After finishing last season at Disney World in a so-called “bubble” designed to keep inhabitants safe from COVID-19, the NBA’s 30 teams will resume traveling between cities for games even as the coronavirus outbreak continues to swell nationwide.
“We are very closely monitoring the situation with the pandemic here in the United States and in our cities,” Tatum said on Tuesday during a global media conference call.
“We feel very confident in our protocols, in working with our medical experts and public health officials and the Players Association and our teams that we have a set of protocols that will keep us safe and healthy.”
Among the protocols in place, any player who tests positive for the virus, even if asymptomatic, will not be allowed to exercise for a minimum of 10 days. In addition, the number of players traveling will be limited as teams fly back and forth to games.
The NBA, like other professional leagues operating amid a pandemic, expects bumps along the way. It released only the first half of its schedule in the event that in the second half of the season any games need to be made up.
“There’s going to be a level of uncertainty here and we are managing through that and we are monitoring it every single day and we need to remain flexible and we understand that,” said Tatum.
NBA teams will play 10 fewer games than the usual 82-game regular season, followed by the play-offs, which are scheduled to conclude in July.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Dan Grebler)