On Wednesday night, an NBA player was found positive for the COVID-19 virus and the league suspended play. Other sporting events could be cancelled in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Conrad Wiacek, Head of Analysis and Consulting at GlobalData’s Sportcal, offers his view:

“While individual matches and events have already fallen victim to COVID-19, the suspension of the whole NBA in the US is unprecedented and takes the world of sport into a completely new territory. The NBA is the first major sporting competition outside of China to completely shut its doors, and leagues and competitions around the world will be looking on with interest.

“The Premier League, for example, will be closely monitoring the NBA’s response, especially with LaLiga following suit and suspending the league for two weeks. While shortened league seasons are not unheard of in the US, due to shutdowns over collective bargaining agreements, this announcement puts serious question marks over sports’ ability to weather the storm unleashed by the virus. There is no precedent for shutting down leagues elsewhere outside of wartime, so sport is in unchartered territory.”

“With media rights in key international territories such as China and Spain coming up for renewal in due course, the NBA will not have taken this decision lightly. However, with sporting events still taking place in the UK and across Europe, the NBA has taken a precautionary measure in order to assess the situation.

“The question will be whether other leagues will follow suit. Positive cases are leading to withdrawals, with the McLaren F1 team withdrawing from the Australian Grand Prix, putting further pressure on F1 management. Given that we are approaching the business end of the season for many sports, and traditional fixtures in the sporting calendar such as the NCAA’s March Madness are due to start soon, questions will need to be answered quite quickly. With mega events like the UEFA European Championships and Olympic Games coming up, the next few weeks are likely to be crucial in determining the fate of sporting events for the rest of the year.”