If the highly anticipated Ohio State vs. Oregon college football game is going to take place in Eugene on Sept. 12 as scheduled, it will likely be played without fans.
Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday that the state of Oregon will take initial steps toward reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 15. At the same time, Brown said the Oregon Health Authority is advising that “any large gathering at least through September should be canceled or modified.”
Brown specifically mentioned sporting events, concerts, conventions and festivals as large gatherings that cannot take place until more reliable treatment for the coronavirus — like a vaccine — is available.
“Restarting events of this size will require a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine, which is many months off. Further guidance on large events will be provided in the coming months,” a news release from the Governor’s office said.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s health officer and epidemiologist, was asked specifically about football games. He said non-contact sports “like golf or tennis” are more likely to return before football. And whenever football resumes, fans likely won’t be in the stands.
“Non-contact sports, things like golf or tennis, where people can maintain a distance are probably some of the things we’re going to see coming back first,” Sidelinger said. “For some of these other sports, basketball, football, and other things where there is more close contact, obviously there is more risk.
“So I think as we approach football season, we can see how the disease is behaving in our community, what kind of steps could be taken around the team themselves and the coaches and others around the team to see if they can safely start. But as you heard from the governor’s remarks, large gatherings will likely not be happening through the end of September. So if or when those activities resume, they would likely resume without the fans in the stands, but hopefully the fans watching them from a screen in the safety of their own home.”
Oregon, Oregon State each have 3 home games in Sept.
From a college football perspective, this obviously affects Oregon, Oregon State and other programs in the Beaver State.
Oregon, the reigning Pac-12 champions, have three home games in September: Sept. 5 vs. FCS national champions North Dakota State, Sept. 12 vs. Big Ten champions Ohio State and Sept. 19 vs. Hawaii. Ohio State’s trip to Autzen Stadium is arguably the season’s top nonconference matchup and could have College Football Playoff implications.
In a statement, Oregon Athletics said the health and safety of its athletes is the top priority.
A statement from Oregon Athletics on Oregon Governor Kate Brown's reopening plan, which advises against sporting events with large crowds through, at least, September: pic.twitter.com/XjMO469394— Tyson Alger (@tysonalger) May 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Oregon State is scheduled to host Colorado State at Reser Stadium in Corvallis on Sept. 12 with games against Portland State and Washington State following on Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, respectively. OSU is scheduled to open its season on Sept. 3 on the road against Oklahoma State.
Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes is scheduled to address reporters later Thursday, per ESPN.
Brown’s announcement also impacts the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and MLS’ Portland Timbers. Seasons in both sports remain on hold, though both leagues began allowing individual workouts this week as restrictions in states across the country are lifted.
Three NBA teams will reportedly open their practice facilities on Friday, and Portland is not one of them. Blazers guard C.J. McCollum told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes he is “worried” about resuming workouts.
“I am worried like the rest of the world, but I like that it is optional and I’m pleased with the caution, structure and measures the Blazers organization has put in place to ensure the safest environment possible for all parties involved,” McCollum told Yahoo Sports. “I get the measures [the league is] taking, but you have to think at some point when there are drastic measures that need to be taken, ‘Is it really worth it?’ It’s either safe or it’s not.”
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