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City of San Francisco hopes Warriors will stop games due to coronavirus, but no plans yet

As the Warriors prep for more home games, will the coronavirus force them to make cancellations?

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Golden State Warriors game last Saturday night — a victory over the depleted Philadelphia 76ers — the city of San Francisco expressed hope that companies and organizations would temporarily halt public events due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Warriors, of course, played on Saturday anyway, as they will Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. But it’s fair to wonder how long that will last.

Just two counties southeast of the city, Santa Clara County has already banned all public events involving more than 1,000 people. That’s no minor feat, as both the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes play in the county.

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: The Warriors are not going to voluntarily cancel any games. The league can mandate it, and the city can mandate it, but the Warriors won’t make that decision themselves. There’s simply too much money involved.

Still, it’s very fair to wonder if and when the city will intervene.

According to numerous reports, the city is already pushing the Warriors specifically. In an article on Tuesday in The Athletic, Ethan Sherwood Strauss reported the following:

If the handbrake is pulled on the NBA season, it won’t be a simple matter just to start up again. Still, according to sources, that’s exactly what multiple San Francisco city officials on the front line of this issue want the NBA and Warriors to do. The Warriors, from their end, have a game scheduled against the Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center on Tuesday and aren’t going to derail an NBA season on their own; it’s a call that either needs to be made by commissioner Adam Silver or intervening government officials.

And at Mission Local, Joe Eskenazi reports an even more desperate plea from the city:

The Golden State Warriors have opted to continue holding games in front of large crowds at Chase Center in spite of the spreading COVID-19 virus — and also in spite of repeated calls to cancel them from multiple San Francisco officials.

“I have personally spoken to the head of the Warriors organization, Rick Welts,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin. “I have expressed my desire that they do this voluntarily before, in the days ahead, we do it as an emergency public health order. It’s not a matter of ‘if.’ It’s a matter of ‘when.’ I hope they come to that conclusion before we make them come to that conclusion.”

There are a lot of powerful people making their voices heard, even if they’re not demanding a change in action just yet. California Governor Gavin Newsom publicly expressed disappointment that leagues are changing media accessibility to protect the players without doing anything to limit dangers for fans.

From Michael Nowels of The Mercury News:

“I found it quite curious and I mean this with respect… The four major organizations — NHL, soccer, Major League Baseball and the NBA put out guidelines to protect their athletes but not their fans,” Newsom said at a Tuesday press conference on coronavirus outbreak. “I think they owe you and their fan base an answer as to why it’s more important to keep reporters away from their players in the locker room than fans” from other fans in “highly contagious parts of the country.”

For now the games at Chase Center go on — tonight against the Clippers, and Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Many will wonder if they should. In Strauss’ article, he spoke with an expert who made his stance perfectly clear:

Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious-disease expert at UC Berkeley, was blunt about it. When asked Monday whether the Warriors and other NBA teams should still be hosting games right now, during the COVID-19 threat, he replied: “No.”

Swartzberg, it’s worth noting, later added that different professionals will have different opinions on this matter.

The coronavirus will continue to impact sports, as well as things far more important than sports. We’ll have to wait and see what this means for the Warriors.