President Donald Trump said Saturday he believed US sports leagues hit by the global pandemic would resume “sooner rather than later” but declined to set a timetable for their return.
On a conference call with the commissioners of the major professional sports leagues, Trump told National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell he believed the season would kick off as scheduled in September.
US sports have been upended by stay-at-home orders with the NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and National Hockey League all halting or suspending their respective seasons last month.
“I want fans back in the arenas…whenever we’re ready,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing on Saturday.
“As soon as we can obviously. I can’t tell you a date but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”
Major League Baseball and NBA officials are reportedly studying plans to play games without spectators at neutral venues to minimise the risks of infection associated with crowded arenas.
Trump, however, spoke optimistically of fans eventually being let back into stadiums.
“We’re not going to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet,” Trump said.
“We need it for this period of time. But eventually people are going to be able to occupy those seats next to each other. I’m not committing to it. It would be great if we could.”
Trump says social distancing won’t be forever
The NFL has so far made no plans to alter the start of its 2020-2021 season, with pre-season games usually starting in August.
However California Governor Gavin Newsom was sceptical of the possibility of sports resuming in August or September.