Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
said a "second wave" of the coronavirus could result in the cancellation of the NFL season.
File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
June 18 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that it "would be very hard to see" how the NFL and college football will be played this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci, who is a member of the White House corona virus task force, made his comments during an appearance on CNN.
NFL teams are scheduled to report to training camp in July. The pre-season schedule is to start Aug. 6. The college football season is to start in late August.
"Unless players are essentially in a bubble -- insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day -- it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci said.
"If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year," he added.
NASCAR, UFC and the PGA Tour are the only major American sports leagues that have returned from suspensions amid the pandemic.
The MLS, NBA, WNBA, NWSL, WTA Tour and ATP Tour have announced specific plans to return. MLB and NHL plans still are pending. The NFL and college football were not in their seasons amid the rise of the pandemic.
However, as college football prepares to gear up, a number of schools have reported that some players have reported and tested positive for the virus.
NFL team facilities were closed throughout the off-season due to the pandemic, but since have reopened for players who need physical therapy. The league has not set a timeline for all players to be allowed at team facilities. Teams have met virtually with players.
Several NFL players have tested positive for the coronavirus this off-season, including Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott and Denver Broncos defender Von Miller.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and commissioners from the WNBA, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS appeared Monday on ESPN's The Return of Sports. Goodell said the league expects to see more players to test positive.
"None of those players was in the facilities," Goodell said of those who tested positive. "All of those players, fortunately, have had either mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, and I think our protocols are working.
"We expect we are going to have positive tests. That is part of the increased testing that we will be going through and that is something that we just want to make sure that our protocols are working and to date," Goodell said.
"We are seeing very positive reactions in the sense that we are making sure we respond quickly, protect the personnel that may be impacted by that and others that may be in contact with them."
Fauci told the New York Times last week that some leagues might have to skip their seasons -- or not return from suspension -- if they "can't guarantee safety." He told NBC Sports in May that football is "the perfect setup for spreading" the coronavirus due to the close contact players have during play.