“They ran the gamut,” Prins said. Beyond basic questions, like what types of tests would be used and how frequently individuals would be tested, she said, the league has “really thorough protocols for travel, thorough protocols for how things will be maintained on the Disney campus — from where the players will be, what the contact will be with people and the protocols for cleaning the facilities.”
The leagues aren’t the first to attempt a return, or the first to confront health concerns when they did.
In mid-May, Germany’s top soccer league, the Bundesliga, returned to play in stadiums without fans. Leagues in Spain, Italy and England have followed suit. But when Bundesliga teams returned to training last month, the league’s testing of each player yielded more than a dozen positive tests for the coronavirus — yet officials went through with the restart anyway.
England’s Premier League conducted similar rounds of testing as it prepared for its return on Wednesday; in the most recent tests, officials said, the league had one positive test out of 1,541 players and coaches. Germany’s top basketball competition — also called the Bundesliga — returned with a tournament earlier this month. And in the United States, Top Rank, the boxing production company, has begun resuming matches.
But no effort in the United States has been as large as what M.L.S. and professional basketball are trying to accomplish in a single location — and in a state experiencing a surge of virus cases.
An N.B.A. spokesman, Mike Bass, said in a statement that the league was “closely monitoring the data in Florida and Orange County and will continue to work collaboratively with the N.B.P.A, public health officials and medical experts regarding our plans.”
Prins said that what concerned doctors like her was not protocols or plans but what she referred to as the “human element.” Players from both the N.B.A. and M.L.S. are expected not to leave the Walt Disney World area, since doing so would increase exposure of those inside these single-site areas in a state that is already a hot spot. In effect, the leagues will have to trust — and hope — that hundreds of players and staff members will follow the rules.