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COVID-19 concerns spreading to North American sporting events

Last Updated Mar 7, 2020 at 12:34 pm PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

Rogers Arena has added extra sanitizing stations and the Canucks are keeping a close eye on players health

The Rugby Sevens at BC Place are set to go ahead on March 7 and 8

Stateside, the NHL and XFL are beginning to be impacted by virus concerns

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Fans have been banned from sporting events in Japan and Italy and concerns over COVID-19 are beginning to affect sports in North America.

In a statement released Friday, Rogers Arena says attendance at Canucks games has not dropped, stressing that the venue remains vigilant.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and to also fight cold and flu season, we have taken some proactive steps at Rogers Arena, including additional hand sanitizing stations as well as the acquisition of specialty sanitizing equipment. We now have approximately 150 sanitizing stations throughout the arena. We have also increased our cleaning staff and surface cleaning frequency in areas like food service areas, washrooms, elevator lobbies and entry gates during events and added more educational signage throughout Rogers Arena,” says of Trent Carroll, COO Canucks Sports & Entertainment.

The team’s health is also being closely monitored.

“Our medical staff is monitoring the situation daily and in constant contact with Health Authorities and the NHL. We are utilizing all available and recommended safety measures for players, coaches and staff,” says Chris Gear, Vancouver Canucks Assistant General Manager.

Meantime, the Rugby Sevens are set to go ahead at BC Place this weekend.

Premier John Horgan says he won’t be attending but is saying the virus has nothing to do with his decision/ .

“I’m not going to be attending,” he said. “It has nothing to do with concerns about my health and well being or those that would attend.”

He urges people to follow the advice of the province’s top doctor.

Those who are passionate about Rugby–attend if you have tickets. If you’re ill–stay home.”

RELATED: US-based pro sports leagues monitoring coronavirus outbreak

Sportsnet 650’s Adam Forsythe says sporting events have been affected south of the border.

The San Jose Sharks saw season-low attendance at Thursday’s game following a warning from Santa Clara Public Health officials to avoid crowds.

“It was one of their lowest attended games in recent memory with about 13,000 people. So people are taking the the county and the city’s advice. They are playing the Ottawa Senators tomorrow in California and the game will go ahead as planned, despite the county warnings,” he explains.

A part-time employee at CenturyLink Field in Seattle tested positive for COVID-19. The city’s XFL team, The Seattle Dragons, is set to play at the stadium on March 15.

“It’s obviously becoming a bit of a concern. Seattle isn’t playing this weekend. They haven’t made any statements about what the plan is moving forward,” he says.

Opening day for Major League Baseball is just around the corner, but the league hasn’t addressed the virus yet.

“When it comes to major sports in North America, I think it’s just a very fluid situation,” Forsythe says. “Spring training is well underway. The season starts in a month. If the virus is still kicking around at this point, I mean, 60-70,000 people gathering in a large public space isn’t exactly ideal for stopping the spread of a virus. I’m sure they’re watching this situation very closely.”