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NBA reportedly eyeing Disney World as possible site for return to play

The NBA is looking at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., as a possible playing site should the 2019-20 season resume, and has even gotten the OK from Disney to use the site, Stadium’s Shams Charania reported Wednesday.

The report came hours after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the New York Times some professional sports leagues may have to “bite the bullet” and cancel their seasons altogether because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Charania, NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday had a conference call with the league’s 30 general managers and a league doctor and discussed what Charania called “some positive developments” regarding potential treatment for COVID-19 and a vaccine trial in England.

According to reports Wednesday, the experimental drug remdesivir showed positive results with COVID-19 patients in a recent study, and the University of Oxford in England on Tuesday announced that a vaccine prevented six monkeys from contracting COVID-19 at a lab in Montana despite getting heavy quantities of the virus. A human trial of the vaccine is now underway.

Practice facilities could open in May

The NBA announced Monday it will soon unveil rule changes that will allow teams to open their practice facilities for players to take part in treatment and limited workouts, so long as the city in which the facility is located permits it.

Numerous restrictions still will be in place for the limited opening of facilities, the league said in a statement. There also is no set date for when facilities can open, though “the league advised teams that it is targeting no earlier than Friday, May 8, as the commencement date for the new rules, and that it may push this timing back if developments warrant,” per the NBA’s statement.

The NBA suspended play March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. A week later, the league instructed teams to close their training and practice facilities. Whether or not the 2019-20 season will resume remains unknown.

Earlier Wednesday, Fauci told the New York Times, “I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.'”

NBA executives also reportedly have discussed the idea of teams attempting to play all games in a central location, with Las Vegas and the Bahamas having been floated as possible sites.

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