June 26, 2020 / 9:42 PM / 11 days ago

Significant spread of COVID-19 in Orlando could halt NBA season, commissioner Silver says

FILE PHOTO: Basketball - NBA - Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks - AccorHotels Arena, Paris, France - January 24, 2020 NBA commissioner Adam Silver during a pre match press conference REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

(Reuters) - The NBA season could again be put on hold if there is a “significant spread” of COVID-19 among its players in Orlando, where the league is set to resume play on July 30 with no fans in attendance, commissioner Adam Silver said on Friday.

The NBA was the first major North American league to suspend its season in mid-March after a player tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It recently agreed a plan with its players to restart with 22 teams at Disney World in Florida.

But if the number of cases inside the NBA’s so-called “bubble” rises, “that may lead us to stopping” play, Silver told ESPN.

Silver said the record number of cases in Florida recently has raised the level of concern but added that the use of the campus - where players will live, practise and play - is designed to limit risk of exposure to the surrounding community.

Silver’s remarks came on the same day the NBA reported that 16 out of 302 players tested for COVID-19 on June 23 had tested positive. The league did not disclose the identities of the players.

Players are scheduled to begin traveling to Orlando on July 7 with tip-off set for July 30.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond

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