The NBA has advised players to limit contact with fans as a precaution as cases of the coronavirus are appearing in the United States.
The league is recommending players “utilize fist-bumps over high-fives with fans,” ESPN reported. The league also advised players not to touch anything passed by fans for autographs, such as pens and jerseys, the report added.
“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount,” the NBA said in a statement issued on Monday. “We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Guard CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers already tweeted that he was suspending signing autographs. He made his announcement on Saturday after a coronavirus case had been confirmed in Oregon.
ESPN also reported that team front offices are worried about the effect the virus will have on workouts and scouting before June’s draft, adding that efforts to scout players based overseas could be “limited in scope”.
The launch of the inaugural Basketball Africa League has been postponed due to fears over the outbreak, the NBA said in a statement on Tuesday. The NBA-backed 12-team league had been due to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal but has now been put on hold due to health concerns.
The announcement came a day after Senegal confirmed its first case of COVID-19, only the second infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Soccer clubs in Europe have begun asking players, staff and officials not to shake hands in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
English top-flight side Newcastle United banned handshakes at training sessions last week, a move that has since been mirrored by fellow Premier League clubs Southampton, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
German side Borussia Dortmund has also told players and staff not to sign autographs or pose for selfies and will no longer allow members of the public at training sessions.
The Scottish Football Association has instructed its top-flight clubs to suspend pre-match and post-match handshakes with immediate effect, starting with Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby between Hibernian and Hearts.