Ujiri: Optimistic next season will be played with fans

Aaron Rose

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri isn't one for pessimism.

The 49-year-old reportedly reporters that he's hopeful this season will conclude safely, and as for next year, he says there will be fans attending games.

"Next season is going to be played with fans," Ujiri reportedly said during Monday's conference call with reporters. "We'll get through this by the grace of God. I'm one of the optimistic ones."

Ujiri's optimism comes days after Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress that he's "cautiously optimistic" that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available to the public at some point toward the end of 2020 or early 2021. 

A widely disseminated vaccine will likely be needed before fans feel comfortable returning to games again. According to a New York Times survey published in early June, 64% of the 511 epidemiologists surveyed said they would not go to a sporting event for at least a year.

Ujiri also echoed Nick Nurse's comments to ESPN, telling reporters that he thinks the environment at the team's Florida Gulf Coast University training facility is "safe."

When asked if any Raptors players were among the 16 NBA players who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, Ujiri reportedly declined to answer, opting to allow the NBA to reveal the names if it chooses.

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- Aaron Rose covers the Toronto Raptors and Canadian basketball for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @aaronbenrose or on Facebook @AllRaptors.

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