WASHINGTON, March 12 (Xinhua) -- National Hockey League (NHL) will pause the 2019-20 regular season due to the concerns of the coronavirus, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Thursday.
The NHL has 189 games remaining, including 10 scheduled for Thursday. The regular season was scheduled to end April 4, with the playoffs starting the week of April 6.
"In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight's games," Bettman said in a statement.
"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus -- and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point -- it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.
"We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions -- including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy."
The NHL Players' Association said it agreed with the League's approach.
"The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time," it said in a statement. "The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the League, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter. The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere."
The announcement came one day after the NBA announced it was suspending its season after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. Neither the league nor the team confirmed the test, but French center Rudy Gobert Thursday confirmed that he was the player who prompted the league to suspend the season.
On the same day, Utah All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell confirmed that he has also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Elsewhere, Major League Baseball (MLB) suspended spring training games and delayed the start of its regular season, scheduled for March 26, by at least two weeks. Major League Soccer(MLS) announced it is suspending its season for 30 days.
The PGA Tour also canceled The Players Championship following the first day of play Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and said it was canceling all tour events through to the Valero Texas Open, which was scheduled for April 2-5. The NCAA announced the cancellation of all of its winter and spring championships, including the men's and women's basketball tournaments, the so-called March Madness.