NBA All-Star Weekend is usually one of the most socially active periods on the league calendar. There is never a shortage of parties and events for fans, media, tourists, players and league personnel to attend. But that obviously isn't the sort of event that makes sense during a pandemic, and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has expressed concerns about what holding the game in the city might mean, according to NBC Reporter Chenue Her.
"Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year," she said in a statement. "I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game."
The All-Star Game was originally slated to be held in Indianapolis, but the event was moved to Atlanta due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players and their guests will not be allowed to leave their hotels outside of league-sanctioned events, but that won't stop local businesses and travelers from holding potential superspreader events around the game.
A number of players have expressed concerns over the idea of playing an All-Star Game at all, which, in itself, holds the potential for a leaguewide spread of the coronavirus. A typical NBA game contains players and personnel from only two teams, but the All-Star Game involves players traveling from all across the league to a single location. If even one player arrives with the virus and spreads it, the entire league would be in danger.
But the NBA has pushed forward despite these concerns. There will be an All-Star Game, and now, all that the players, staff and host city can do is try to make sure the event is held as safely as possible.