Florida’s being targeted yet again as a site to reopen sports.
Days after UFC held its first U.S. event since the COVID-19 outbreak in Jacksonville, MLS has a reported outline to resume its season in Orlando.
According to Sam Stejskal of The Athletic, MLS wants to resume play on June 22 in Orlando with all 26 teams competing in a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. MLS suspended play on March 12 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States.
Family members wouldn’t be allowed
According to the report, the league is proposing that players and staff from all teams travel to Orlando on June 1 to begin a three-week training program before the tournament begins. The tournament would last four or five weeks as players and staffs would be isolated in Central Florida. Families members would not be allowed.
‘Skepticism’ about proposal
The report notes that there is “skepticism” about the viability of the plan in part because of the short training period following two months off from competitive play and practice. MLS also plans to conduct twice weekly COVID-19 testing of the 1,000-plus players and staffers involved in the tournament.
With testing in general in short supply, the plan raises obvious questions about how realistic the testing goal is along with ethical questions about whether MLS should use scarce testing kits in the name of a soccer tournament.
The structure and the reward of the tournament remain unclear, according to the report.
Warnings persist against reopening too soon
The news arrives as the nation grapples with how and when to reopen for business amid the ongoing crisis.
The nation’s leading medical voice in the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci, testified to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday that “consequences could be really serious” if states and municipalities open too soon.
Sports have been a significant part of the conversation in the effort to reopen, with President Donald Trump applauding the UFC for its decision to hold Saturday’s event in Jacksonville as he pushes to reopen the economy. Florida was one of the first states to ease shelter-in-place restrictions.
As of Tuesday, the United States accounted for 1.3 million of the 4.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. The domestic death toll has exceeded 81,000, with the Centers for Disease Control predicting last week that the death rate would increase to 3,000 daily in the United States by the end of May as states reopen their economies to varying degrees.
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