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NBA Considers Banning Fans From Stands Over Coronavirus Fears

What a sad spectacle that would be.

With the deadly coronavirus outbreak continuing to wreak havoc on the global psyche, a number of the world’s most recognizable brands are taking wild, precautionary measures.

The virus, a novel strain known as COVID-19, has been spreading extremely rapidly in the Far East, with a majority of the 90,000 infected and 3,000 dead coming from China, South Korea, and other Asian nations.

In the US, authorities have now identified 9 fatalities from the illness, sparking fears that the virus’ fourteen day incubation period could be concealing the true scope of the infected masses.

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As a precaution, the NBA is considering an unheard-of scenario:  Games without fans.

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Marc Lasry, co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, told CNBC on Tuesday that sporting events could possibly ban fans if the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

“If you’re going to do it to basketball, you’re going to do it to baseball,” Lasry said on “Fast Money.” “I hope we don’t get there.”

The billionaire hedge fund manager said games that exclude spectators could have more serious implications for the upcoming baseball season, as baseball stadiums can hold more people. He added that basketball games in Europe have already barred fans because of the virus and that the National Basketball Association could do the same if more people get sick.

The NBA issued a memo to teams on March 1 advising players to avoid high-fiving or giving fist bumps to fans and taking items to sign autographs. The memo also included tips on hand-washing.

And while the diminished physical contact could lead to a strangely impersonal basketball season, the immediate impact of the maneuver would likely be reflected in a stoking of the fears surrounding the virus.

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