Will coronavirus impact NFL Draft, other offseason events?

NFL 'continues to closely monitor' the outbreak ahead of the draft next month in Las Vegas

As the NFL prepares for key offseason events such as the NFL Draft and its annual meeting, league officials are keeping a close eye on potential complications from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

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The NFL is scheduled to hold its annual summit meeting for owners, team executives, coaches and other officials from March 29 to April 1 in Palm Beach, Florida. Preparations are already well underway for the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, which runs from April 23 to 25 and will require a temporary shutdown of the Las Vegas Strip.

“The NFL continues to closely monitor coronavirus developments and has been in contact with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NFL-NFLPA’s medical experts at the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON),” the NFL said in a statement. “We will continue those discussions throughout the offseason.”

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At present, there are no changes planned to the NFL Draft or the annual league meeting, an NFL spokesman told FOX Business. However, that could change if coronavirus continues its rapid progression.

NFL teams regularly invite top college football stars to private workouts or meetings prior to the draft. It’s unclear how coronavirus concerns could impact those visits. The NFL Scouting Combine proceeded without interruption last week.

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More than 93,000 individual cases of coronavirus were confirmed across 77 counties as of Wednesday afternoon. At least 3,199 people have died from the virus, including 11 deaths in the United States. The outbreak has prompted major U.S. companies and sports leagues to impose travel restrictions or cancel events.

NBA officials sent out a memo to players earlier this week advising precautionary measures, though no changes were made to the league’s schedule. The NCAA established a coronavirus advisory panel and said it still plans to hold its championship events, including the March Madness basketball tournaments.

The coronavirus outbreak is unfolding even as NFL owners and players' union officials pursue a new collective-bargaining agreement. The league’s pool of roughly 2,000 players is expected to begin the voting process this week.

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