LA Lakers superstar LeBron James has retracted his statement that would refuse to play NBA matches in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus crisis, the leagues announced in a joint statement on Monday night.
And James backtracked on his previous statement in which he said it was 'impossible' to play games behind closed doors because he 'plays for the fans'.
"Well, it's funny, because when I was asked the question – would you play without no fans? – I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus," James told reporters on Tuesday.
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"Obviously, I would be very disappointed, not having the fans, because that's who I play for. I play for my family. I play for my fans. They're saying no one could come to the game if they decide to go that point.
"So, I'd be disappointed in that. But, at the same time, you have got to listen to the people keeping track on what's going on.
"And if they feel like it is best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to them."
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James, whose Lakers top the Western Conference with their 49-14 record, had a differing opinion on Friday night in comments after his side's victory over the Milwaukee Bucks when asked about the possibility.
"We play games without the fans? Nah. Impossible," he said. "I ain't playing if you don't have the fans in the crowd. That's who I play for. I play for my team-mates, I play for the fans.
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"That's what it's all about. So, if I show up to the arena and there ain't no fans in there? I ain't playing. So, they can do what they want to do."
Reports have confirmed that there are 732 cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Tuesday, with a total of 26 deaths.
Two of the deaths have come in California where the Los Angeles Times are reporting that there are at least 140 people who have been infected with the virus.
- LeBron James
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