The NBA is suspending its season after a player preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus, the league announced Wednesday.
The news came after the NBA game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly postponed on Wednesday night.
Players for both teams were on the court at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City for warm-ups but were called back to the locker rooms. The NBA said the affected player was not in the arena and the test results were reported shortly before tip-off.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the NBA said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The organization later decided to nix the last game of the night between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings. A referee assigned to work the game had previously worked a Utah Jazz game, the NBA said.
In a statement, the Utah Jazz said a player on the team tested negative for influenza, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection Wednesday morning.
“The individual’s symptoms diminished over the course of today, however, in a precautionary measure, and in consultation and cooperation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials, the decision was made to test for COVID-19,” the team said.
The player is in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City, the team said.
“We wish this player a full and speedy recovery, and appreciate the work of health officials in Oklahoma to test a member of the Utah Jazz for COVID-19, as well as their prudent decision to test the entire team at this time,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said in a joint statement.
They added that they are working to identify individuals who have had close enough contact with the player as to have been potentially exposed.
Juan Guerra II, who says he is an avid Thunder fan, told CNN they had presented the National Anthem and announced the starting lineups.
“And then boom, a guy in a suit started a joint conversation with all the referees, then both head coaches — next thing you knew the Jazz went into the locker room and then the Thunder,” he said.
The announcer at the game was heard telling fans that they were safe and to please leave the arena.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many sports leagues to consider making adjustments, including canceling events and holding games without fans. Before the NBA’s decision to suspend its season, the Golden State Warriors announced that its Thursday night game in San Francisco against the Brooklyn Nets would be played without fans. The NCAA also announced Wednesday that its annual basketball tournament would go forward but with only “essential personnel” and “limited family” in attendance.
In light of the NBA’s decision, the National Hockey League released a statement that it is still evaluating the options around the league’s season and will have an update on Thursday.