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NFL Draft to continue, public events canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Public events for the NFL Draft are canceled and the league is “exploring innovative options” for conducting the event in Las Vegas as scheduled, the league said in a statement on Monday.

The draft, which was set for April 23-25, will continue as originally scheduled. But the NFL said it is modifying its plans as the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has prompted many businesses to close up shop and authorities to advise against or outright ban public gatherings.

“This decision reflects our foremost priority — the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”

This includes the Arizona Cardinals’ draft party, the team announced later on Monday.

Despite the major impact coronavirus has had on sports, including the cancellation, postponement or hiatus of several other leagues and events, the NFL said Sunday it plans to start its league year on time. Free agency begins Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the cancellation or postponement of events that have more than 50 people.

Nevada has already begun taking preventative measures on its own in response to the pandemic, which included the closure of all K-12 schools on Sunday through at least April 6.

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