SPORTS NBA All-Star Game to go ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic

SPORTS

NBA All-Star Game to go ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic

CGTN

09:14, February 19, 2021

The 2020 NBA All-Star game in Chicago, U.S., February 16, 2020. (Photo: CFP)

The NBA will hold the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7, the association said on Thursday, despite a number of top players expressing concerns about staging an exhibition game amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA will arrange private travel for All-Star Game participants and, together with the American National Basketball Players Association, will commit over $2.5 million toward Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 relief efforts.

"NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a news release.

"In addition to the festivities on the court, the All-Star Game will honor the vital role HBCUs play in our communities and focus attention and resources on COVID-19 relief, particularly for the most vulnerable."

LeBron James (L) and Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, U.S., February 16, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

LeBron James, the league's most high-profile player, has been among those who voiced displeasure about staging an All-Star Game amid a pandemic and during an already compressed regular-season schedule.

"I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year," four-time NBA champion James said two weeks ago when talks surrounding a potential exhibition were ongoing. "I don't even understand why we're having an All-Star Game."

Among the health and safety protocols that will be in place for the All-Star festivities is the creation of a "mini bubble" environment within a single hotel for players and coaches, and enhanced COVID-19 testing.

All participating players will be required to remain at the designated hotel except for All-Star activities while there will be no fan activities or ticketed events.

Rather than schedule several events over the course of a weekend, the NBA said it will hold the All-Star Game, three-point contest, skills competition and slam dunk contest on the same day.

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