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Seattle Mayor Durkan: ‘Crowds in stadiums’ not returning anytime soon

While some social distancing measures in Washington have begun to relax starting Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan intimated recently that large stadium events aren’t likely to return anytime soon.

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“I don’t think you’re going to see crowds in stadiums,” Durkan told Snapchat’s Peter Hamby, host of Good Luck America. 

That’s a sentiment that’s been echoed by many, with the risk of spreading the virus among large crowds expected to persist even after other distancing measures are lifted.

In a recent panel interview with the New York Times Magazine, Healthcare Transformation Institute Director Zeke Emanuel predicted that large gatherings like concerts, conferences, and sporting events wouldn’t likely return until “fall 2021 at the earliest.”

That being so, Durkan hinted at adapting creative solutions other countries have used to allow sporting events to take place without fans being physically present.

In Taiwan they had their first games and they actually had mannequins in the seats,” she pointed out. “You may get virtual fans, but I think there’s going to be enough challenges trying to get players to different cities. So I don’t see crowds in our near future, but I think we can be innovative and otherwise.”

South Korea’s professional baseball season kicked off Tuesday with empty stands, while implementing other distancing measures to keep athletes safe. Players are not permitted to spit or chew tobacco, while umpires and coaches must wear protective masks.

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Meanwhile in the U.S., professional and amateur sports continue to be on hold, with Major League Baseball’s early-April start date delayed indefinitely, while the NBA’s own mid-season pause on games has been ongoing.

It’s unclear at this time how the virus will affect the NFL season set to kick off in September, but the league has said it plans to move forward as scheduled at least for the time being (albeit without details on whether fans will be allowed in stadiums). The league has also preemptively moved all international games stateside.

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