Coronavirus: California, New York open door for sports to return, bringing hope to NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he has asked teams to prepare to reopen without fans.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he has asked teams to prepare to reopen without fans.PHOTO: AFP

SACRAMENTO (REUTERS) - California Governor Gavin Newsom cleared a path for the potential return of professional sport in the state, saying on Monday (May 18) that an early June restart was possible under strict guidelines, including no fans.

Shuttered for nearly two months by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball are all working up scenarios to restart their seasons but any plans have had to factor in state pandemic guidelines and restrictions on large gatherings.

"Sporting events, pro sports in that first week or so of June without spectators and modifications and very perspective conditions also could begin to move forward," said Mr Newsom during his daily press briefing on Monday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also gave the nod for the return of major sports in his state on Monday, saying that he has asked teams to prepare to reopen without fans.

"New York state will help those major sport franchises to do just that," he said during his daily news conference at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.

"Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen, we're a ready, willing and able partner."

After a two-month shutdown, professional sports slowly began to re-emerge from under the Covid-19 cloud during the weekend as several events returned to television - all without fans in attendance.

Following an Ultimate Fighting Championship card aired live from an empty arena in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, sport-starved fans had their choice on Sunday of Nascar's return to racing at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, a charity skins game featuring golf greats Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson and Professional Bull Riding.

The NBA and MLS have opened training facilities for voluntary workouts under tight guidelines, while MLB is working on a plan to return to the field in the first week of July.