Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts limited fans at sporting events through late 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY
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The NBA fell way short of revenue projections last season. NBA teams, without fans in attendance, could even lose money next season.

And the coronavirus pandemic won’t necessarily be solved before the following season.

Dr. Anthony Fauci (with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins), via NIH:

What we likely will have, as the efficacy of the vaccine is shown at the population level – we will have a gradual relaxation of some of the stringent public-health measures. Never to be abandoned. I can foresee that, even with a really good vaccine, that mask wearing will continue well into the third or fourth quarter of 2021. Then, what likely will happen, when you talk about normality, there will be a graded, gradual progression towards normality. Some examples: I believe restaurants might be able to do indoor at moderate, if not full, capacity. Theaters will then be able to seat people – maybe not initially at full capacity, but working your way to that. Sports events will then have spectators, very likely in graded amounts with regard to capacity. So that, ultimately, when we get this under control – not only at the domestic, but that the global level – we will start to approach what we call normal. I don’t think, Francis, that it’s going to be at a level where people are going to feel like there are no public-health measures to be implemented until we get to the end of 2021 – at least.

Coronavirus is unpredictable. Even within this outlook, there plenty of room for variance. How many fans will be allowed to attend an NBA game, and when?

The NBA reportedly wants to start the 2021-22 season in mid-October. But the league could find itself in a similar position as this season – considering delaying if fan attendance is not yet feasible but is foreseeable.

Or maybe it’ll be safe to fill arenas by then. There’s a lot of time for more information to emerge.

The NBA just ought to consider these possibilities before rushing through next season to get a normal 2021-22 season. The 2021-22 season could still be impacted.