Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the leading figures in the country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic, told Snapchat's Peter Hamby that he believes sports could return this summer—but only under certain conditions.
Fauci said sports could potentially return safely without fans if players are isolated in hotels and tested frequently for the coronavirus.
"There's a way of doing that," Fauci said. "Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out."
Major League Baseball had discussed moving all 30 teams to Phoenix, Arizona and playing games in empty ballparks while players stayed in local hotels. A possible plan to start the 2020 season is still in the early stages.
“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”
The NHL and NBA have also reportedly considered holding games in a single location.
President Donald Trump has expressed optimism that sports will be able to return within the next few months. Trump is expected to consult with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on sports' role in boosting the economy.
In an April call with sports commissioners, President Trump reportedly said he thought the NFL would be able to start its season on time in September.
Fauci has said that many American lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the United States had instituted social distancing policies earlier. Fauci has also pushed back on the urge to end social distancing too quickly, noting the possibility that such policies could accelerate the spread of the virus.
More than 26,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.