Local NewsCoronavirus


NFL Draft, conference basketball tournaments going on as planned as coronavirus spreads

Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 08:40:41-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., major sports leagues and conferences are addressing concerns and developing contingency plans.

While the CDC is assessing the risk and spread of the virus, the agency has issued guidelines for organizers of significant events. That guide includes what organizers should do before an outbreak occurs, and that includes the recommendation to consider modifying, postponing, or canceling major events.

The guide comes as Las Vegas plays host to 8 college basketball conference tournaments over two weeks, its first major NFL event with the draft, and probably NHL playoff games.

"Nothing has been communicated to me at this point," said TJ Otzelberger, first-year head coach for the UNLV men's basketball team.

He said the NCAA had not communicated anything to him about coronavirus or potential contingency plans.

Otzelberger asked reporters not to "bother" players with questions about coronavirus, saying they needed to stay focused on their tournament opener against Boise State Thursday.

The Mountain West Conference issued a statement, reading in part: "The MW has regulations that guide any interruption (government shutdown, national emergency, natural disaster, etc.) to athletic competitions" and "consult all parties to come up with a plan."

Tuesday, the men's and women's tournaments had plans to continue, with the PAC-12 conference releasing a similar statement addressing plans for its women's competition, which begins Thursday at Mandalay Bay Events Center and the men's next Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

Across town at City National Arena, Vegas Golden Knights Head Coach Peter DeBoer said he's in communication with team executives about the league's contingency plans should coronavirus become a more severe threat to public health. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are also set to begin next month.

"I know the NHL is on top of it," said DeBoer. "I know there's been some dialogue, but I think it's preliminary. I know there is and will be a plan, but I don't know what that is. It hasn't filtered down to me yet."

The other major sports event in Las Vegas is the NFL Draft next month, the first major NFL event planned for the city.

The NFL and LVCVA both said no plans had changed yet, but they're closely monitoring the situation as it develops.