NBA season shut down as Lewis Hamilton calls F1 decision to go ahead ‘shocking’

NBA season shut down as Lewis Hamilton calls F1 decision to go ahead ‘shocking’

The NBA season has been suspended “until further notice” after an unnamed player from the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus, with the outbreak continuing to rip through the sporting schedule.

The NBA’s decision came as F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his surprise that his sport was pressing on with starting its season this weekend, calling it “shocking”.

American basketball was suspended after the league was advised of the positive test shortly before the scheduled game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

The NBA said in a statement: “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Utah said the player, who was not at the arena, had been tested as “a precautionary measure” in consultation with NBA medical staff and Oklahoma health officials.

The team said in a statement: “When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office.

Virus Outbreak Pelicans Kings Postponed Basketball
The NBA game between New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings was cancelled at the last minute (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

“The health and safety of our players, our organisation, those throughout our league, and all those potentially impacted by this situation are paramount in our discussions.”

It said the player was “currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City”.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James wrote on Twitter: “Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe.”

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is “shocked” that the Australian Grand Prix is set to take place (David Davies/PA)

Hamilton described the decision to continue with this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix as “shocking”.

The race in Sydney is set to go ahead as scheduled despite increasing global lockdowns and Hamilton told his pre-race news conference: “I am very, very surprised we are here.

“It’s great we have races but it’s shocking we are sitting in this room.”

Five F1 team members have been advised to go into self-isolation in Sydney after displaying symptoms which could indicate coronavirus.

“[There are] so many fans there and it seems like the rest of the world is reacting – probably a little bit late,” Hamilton said.

“We are seeing Trump shutting down the borders, the NBA has been suspended yet F1 continues to go on.”

A further series of postponements are expected to be confirmed on Thursday, with next week’s Champions League tie between Juventus and Lyon almost certain to be called off.

The Italian club confirmed that defender Daniele Rugani has been placed in quarantine after testing positive for the virus.

A statement on the club’s official website said: “The footballer Daniele Rugani has tested positive for Coronavirus-COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic.

“Juventus Football Club is currently activating all the isolation procedures required by law, including those who have had contact with him.”

The Premier League and Football League have continued to indicate that they will follow government advice when it comes to postponements or playing matches behind closed doors.

Sheffield Wednesday are understood to be in dialogue with the authorities over Saturday’s match against Nottingham Forest, whose owner Evangelos Marinkis’ positive diagnosis.

However, Forest confirmed that all players, staff and officers have been tested for the coronavirus and come back negative.

Wolves’ Europa League match against Olymiapcos, whom Marinkis also owns, is set to take place behind closed doors in Greece on Thursday night despite the Premier League club expressing their opposition.

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27 is still scheduled to go ahead, and UEFA has confirmed it has received no requests from national associations to postpone the Euro 2020 finals, which are due to start in Rome on June 12.

Golf’s Players Championship in Florida, often referred to as the sport’s ‘fifth major’, is due to begin as scheduled later on Thursday.