Sports may face fearful fan scare after coronavirus returns

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Sports leagues in the United States may be anxious to get back to the action, but 72% of those who responded to a Seton Hall survey said they would not feel safe to attend games until ” that a vaccine against the new coronavirus be developed.

When asked what they would do if the leagues returned to play before there was a vaccine, 12% said in the poll released Thursday that they would attend, but only if social distancing could be sustained.

Only 13% said they would feel safe.

The survey conducted by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business was conducted from April 6 to 8 with 762 respondents.

In the past month, the pandemic has stopped world sports on an unprecedented scale.

“This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall sports poll.

“Those who identify themselves as sports fans, at all levels of interest, align closely with the general population with regard to their own safety and that of the players.

The number of confirmed new coronavirus infections is estimated to have exceeded 460,000 in the United States on Thursday with an estimated 16,504 deaths.

The National Basketball Association suspended its season on March 11 after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus, which was quickly followed by National Hockey, Major League Baseball, and other sporting events that have postponed or canceled events.

While Americans have indicated that they are in no rush to fill stadiums and arenas, they clearly miss their sports with 76% declaring that they would watch games broadcasts with the same interest as before, with only 16% said they would be less interested.

In what could be a worrying sign for the leagues, only 29 percent said they had missed the opportunity to watch sports live.

Many major leagues in North America have thought about scenarios that would help them get back to business as soon as possible, even playing games in empty stadiums before the epidemic is fully brought under control.

US President Donald Trump told the commissioners of sports on a conference call on Saturday that he hoped that the leagues and competitions, which had been suspended by the epidemic, would soon return.

“I want the fans back in the arena,” Trump said later at a press conference. “Whenever we are ready. As soon as possible, of course. “

Trump also said he thinks the NFL season, which is slated to start in September, should start on time.

Most Americans, however, according to the Seton Hall poll, are not as enthusiastic, with only 6% saying the NFL should start as expected, with 70% saying the league shouldn’t start playing if social distancing is still to come. be maintained.

As for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the biggest sporting event of the year, 84% of Americans believe that the International Olympic Committee acted appropriately by postponing it to 2021, with only 14% believing that they acted too fast.

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