The coronavirus pandemic has forced professional sports leagues to shut down and it's unclear when they could return. In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the country's top infectious diseases expert, said that some sports leagues may have to "bite the bullet," and cancel their seasons this year.

"Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything," Fauci said. "If you can't guarantee safety, then unfortunately you're going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.'"

These comments come after Fauci said earlier in April that professional sports leagues could return if there are no fans in the stand and players -- who are tested frequently -- stay in nearby hotels.

"There's a way of doing that," Fauci told Snapchat's Peter Hamby during an interview on April 15. "Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out."

In this latest interview with The New York Times, Fauci again highlighted the importance of making COVID-19 tests that can determine quick results available for everyone. Currently, if sports leagues were to return, they could be taking tests away from people that really need them. Because of this, Fauci admitted that it's going to be a slow process in terms of having sports return.

"I would love to be able to have all sports back," Fauci said. "But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we're not ready for that yet."

The NBA and NHL are on a time crunch since they were in the thick of their respective seasons when the pandemic forced the respective shutowns. If they were to return to complete their 2019-20 seasons, they'd have to navigate how to finish the regular season followed by a possibly altered postseason format. 

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball can have a shortened season if they're able to return sometime in the next few months.