Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL appears to be looking for ways to complete its regular season in the fall of 2020. Among the possible solutions the league is discussing includes potentially shortening the schedule, according to the Washington Post's Mark Maske.
The league, per the Post, is also planning on potentially holding games in empty or partially filled stadiums.
The NFL schedule is expected to be released May 9 and according to the Post, it will account for the possibility of games being lost by a delayed start.
“The schedule is being done in such a way that builds in that flexibility,” a person familiar with the NFL's planning told the Post.
On Wednesday, 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.
"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."
The Los Angeles Times reported on an email Wednesday that was sent from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and said that "large gatherings" including sporting events might be halted until 2021.
The decision to halt large gatherings until 2021 would serve as a hinderance to a number of Los Angeles sports teams, including the Rams and Chargers, both of whom were set to play their upcoming seasons in the newly built SoFi Stadium.
Following President Donald Trump's April 4 conference call with a number of major sports commissioners—in which Trump said he thought the NFL would start on time—California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he did not think NFL teams nor fans would return to stadiums this fall.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic altering much of the sports world, the NFL has largely continued in its operation, going forward with free agency and the NFL draft. The upcoming draft, held April 23–25, will be conducted virtually, however, as NFL facilities remain closed with few exceptions.
As of now, though, the NFL is “planning for a full season” but it will “be reasonable and responsible” in allowing for contingencies, a person close to the league's deliberations told the Post.
As of Wednesday evening, there are more than two million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, causing at least 130,000 deaths. There are more than 630,000 confirmed cases in the United States.