From NBA to IOC, sharing the bubble map
Sports organisations including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be closely watching the National Basketball Association (NBA) which restarted the 2019-20 season on Thursday.
NBA has shared its experience of creating a bio-secure bubble with IOC which is working different scenarios for the Tokyo Olympics, now deferred to July 23 to August 8, 2021. NBA in turn has learnt from top football leagues in Europe which completed the season after being stalled for months due to Covid-19, said Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of NBA. The leagues are fighting the pandemic together, he said.
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“I have not been directly in contact with the IOC, but…I am on the executive committee of Fiba (international basketball federation), and obviously Fiba has been in direct contact with the IOC,” said Tatum.
“We actually have our chief medical officer on Fiba’s medical commission and so there’s a lot of sharing of information about our NBA campus and the bubble environment that I know is being shared with the IOC, as well,” he said, in a teleconference on Wednesday.
“One of the, I think, benefits of this entire pandemic over the last couple of months has been the coming together of the sport’s community. There’s been a tremendous amount of sharing amongst leagues. I remember with the Bundesliga when they created their protocols, I was on the phone with them on a regular basis, and we shared information and shared protocols together. We were talking to the English Premier League. We all spoke about how we could do this together and what’s the best way to do it,” said Tatum.
“I think if there’s learnings (sic) here (it is) that we can share with others so that we can create safe and healthy environments for athletes and for sport.”
Called NBA Campus, the bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has over 1500 persons comprising squads of all 22 teams - including 89 internationals from 34 countries - support staff, match and technical officials, broadcast personnel and media. They are staying in three hotels and will play in three closed-door venues.
There hasn’t been any positive case in over 350 tests at the campus over the past couple of weeks. There have been breaches though when a couple of players stepped out of the campus but Tatum said that did not cause damage.
“We have an extensive list and extensive group of protocols that were developed in conjunction with the world’s leading experts in infectious disease, in epidemiology and in virology. We’ve implemented those protocols, and whenever we see somebody on the campus who is not adhering to the protocols, we actually have a process to deal with that,” he said.
With 30 robotic cameras to cover the three courts from angles that have not been explored till now, NBA hopes to make the experience worthwhile for the television audience. NBA’s restart is being beamed in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages. For each game, there will also be 300 fans in a live audience via a 17-foot digital fan wall surrounding the courts.
NBA plans to complete the season in October and launch the next one in December.