UPDATE (March 10, 6:28 a.m. PT) — The pictures from Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, are stark. This weekend's match between Juventus and Inter Milan typically would have drawn more than 40,000 people to watch the latter challenge the former for a title shot in Italian soccer's top-tier league.
Instead, Juventus players celebrated their 2-0 win in front of silent, empty seats. Fans were barred from the stadium as some 16 million people in Italy had been quarantined due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus there. The Italian sports minister called the decision to play matches at all "irresponsible."
On Monday, the Italian government imposed travel restrictions on the entire country, where more than 400 people have died in the global outbreak. All sports in Italy will be on hold starting Tuesday until at least April 3. Slovakia banned sports for two weeks.
Meanwhile in Portland, Oregon, the stands at Providence Park remained packed with Timbers fans, despite continued spread of the coronavirus. More than 25,000 took in the Timbers' 1-0 victory over Nashville SC on a picturesque Portland Sunday.
The Timbers, like many other sporting organizations in the Pacific Northwest, have yet to limit spectators or cancel events amid the outbreak.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Oregon jumped from three to seven on Saturday, then doubled again on Sunday. That number will likely grow as more tests — which have thus far been limited — are conducted throughout the state. Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency.
"Our recommendation is not to cancel large-scale events,” Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen said Sunday. “Our recommendation is that people who are at risk — those who are over 60, those who have underlying health conditions — should seriously consider whether they want to attend an event like that, because they are at risk.”
The common advice remains for fans, players and staff to wash their hands frequently and to stay home if they're feeling unwell. But game cancellations or games played without spectators may not be far off.
Late Monday night, the NBA, MLS, MLB and NHL made a rare joint announcement that they would close locker rooms to media.
Sporting events around the world have gradually decreased contact among people in arenas. The NBA and English Premier League soccer have advised against handshakes and autographs. British sporting events may soon be canceled. The Basketball Africa League postponed the start of its inaugural season. The Nippon Professional Baseball season is on hold in Japan. The fate of the 2020 Olympics is uncertain.
A high-profile tennis tournament, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, was even canceled after confirmation of just one coronavirus case in the area.
ESPN reported Friday night that the NBA is advising teams to prepare to play games without fans, limiting stadium access to "essential staff" only.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health recommended canceling "large gatherings, such as concerts, sporting events, conventions or large community events" following confirmation of cases in the Bay Area. (The Golden State Warriors played Saturday, regardless.)
The Portland Trail Blazers have five more home games in the next two weeks. The Timbers don't return home until late March.
The Blazers and the Timbers both said in written statements that they're following guidance of their leagues, the OHA and other health agencies. That means games will continue as scheduled, with fans — for now. The organizations have added sanitizing stations, increased coronavirus messaging and stepped up disinfection duties in the meantime.
The Oregon School Activities Association held state basketball championships in Baker City, Pendleton and Coos Bay last weekend and have games in Portland, Forest Grove and Corvallis this coming weekend. OSAA sent information to all member schools last week urging participants, staff and spectators to stay home if they're feeling sick and encouraging fans to "spread out in the venue, when possible."
“At this point, we haven’t had any conversations about canceling or postponing events,” said OSAA executive director Peter Weber.
Weber said the OSAA is in regular contact with the state health authority, sports medicine professionals and athletic associations in neighboring states as the coronavirus situation evolves.
Washington state basketball tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and Spokane continued as scheduled last weekend, despite Gov. Jay Inslee reportedly weighing executive action to limit large events.
Organizers of the Shamrock Run in Portland, "the largest running and walking event in Oregon," say events are "scheduled to take place as planned" this weekend.
Also on the schedule in Oregon and Washington: March Madness. The women's tournament comes to Moda Center in Portland on March 28 and 30, while the men's tournament visits Spokane on March 19 and 21.