Los Angeles (AFP) – Professional sports leagues across North America were on alert Tuesday as a wave of Covid-19 cases left dozens of players on the sidelines, prompted teams to shut down facilities and forced the postponement of more matches.
NFL, NBA and National Hockey League scramble to counter sharp rise in coronavirus cases as the Geneva-based World Health Organization warns the new Omicron variant is spreading at an unprecedented rate .
After a relatively serene three-month opening to the American football season, Covid-19 is back to hunt down the NFL with vengeance last week.
A day after the NFL reported a surge in Covid-19 cases – with 37 recorded in a single day on Monday – the Los Angeles Rams and the Cleveland Browns became the last teams to be affected by the virus.
The Rams have closed their training facility and entered intensive NFL security protocols after nine players were placed on the reserve / Covid-19 roster.
Rams players affected included star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Four other Rams players were already on the Covid-19 roster.
Rams staff will work remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday, and more cases are expected in what head coach Sean McVay called the “only difficult” situation.
In Cleveland, the Browns announced that the team also entered the NFL’s enhanced Covid-19 protocols after eight players were put on the reserve roster.
The Washington soccer team reported two more players on the team’s Covid-19 roster, bringing the total to 10.
U.S. reports on Monday said that a Washington employee – who was not directly involved with playing or coaching staff – tested positive for Omicron, the first known case of the variant in the NFL.
As of November 17, more than 94% of NFL players had been vaccinated, while nearly 100% of NFL staff had also been vaccinated.
NBA, NHL success
At the same time, in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers canceled a training session scheduled for Tuesday after Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive.
In a separate development, the Brooklyn Nets have confirmed that starters James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Bembry will miss Tuesday’s home game against the Toronto Raptors after entering Covid-19 protocols.
Jevon Carter and James Johnson were also added to the Covid-19 roster on Tuesday, joining Nets Paul Millsap, who entered protocols on Monday.
On Monday, the NBA said that Chicago’s games against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and the Toronto Raptors on Thursday had both been called off, with the first games of the season postponed due to Covid-19.
Ice hockey was also facing a resurgence of the Covid.
On Monday, the NHL postponed Calgary Flames games until December 16 after six players and a staff member entered Covid protocols.
Seven NHL teams reported new cases of Covid on Tuesday, and the Carolina Hurricanes were forced to postpone their game with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday after an outbreak.
Concerns about Covid-19 have also put a question mark on the participation of the stars of the NHL in the Winter Olympics next February in Beijing.
NHL Players Association executive director Don Fehr said on Saturday that a lack of “concrete answers” from Beijing Games officials on Covid-19 protocols, including quarantine rules, was creating a uncertainty among the players.
Speaking in a video conference on Tuesday, USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said that although officials received new guidance on Monday, they were still awaiting clarification on the quarantine rules for any player tested. positive for Covid-19 in China.
â€œWe certainly hope that all the systems will be ready by the time we prepare to go to Beijing,â€ Kelleher said.
â€œBut there is definitely work to be done. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things to discuss and hopefully answer so that everyone can feel better about sending the best players in the NHL. â€
Â© 2021 AFP