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German basketball league asks players to wear tracking chips as play resumes amid coronavirus pandemic

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Germany’s top basketball league will resume play with a 10-team tournament on Saturday after nearly three full months off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While doing so, the Basketball Bundesliga is asking players to wear electronic chips to monitor their movements, according to ESPN.

The BBL was suspended on March 8 due to the coronavirus, just three days before the NBA followed suit in the United States. It’s 10-team, 36-game tournament will take place in Munich over three weeks with several safety measures in place — including games without fans, limiting interaction with media, broadcast crews, league officials and others, isolation and testing players in intervals every few days, among others.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

If someone tests positive throughout the three weeks, the league will isolate them and then conduct contact-tracing to try and limit the spread — similar to the NBA’s plan for when its league resumes play with a 22-team format in Orlando on July 31.

Though the tracking chips aren’t mandatory, the league hopes the data they’d provide will make sure that the contact-tracing is accurate and can work effectively.

“It is voluntary,” commissioner Stefan Holz said, via ESPN. “It is optional. It is to trace contacts. If there is one positive test within the group, the whole group could be in danger. It could be the end of the tournament.”

The data, per the report, will only be available to team doctors in the centralized hotel — and only if there is a positive case. The tracking will only be done inside the hotel, not during basketball-related activities or when players leave the hotel. If players wear the chip, they will not be required to wear a mask at the hotel. If they don’t and there is a positive case, they may be required to quarantine.

The players, Bayern Munich general manager Marko Pesic told ESPN, are being “strongly encouraged” to wear them.

“Our hope is that everyone will understand why they are doing it,” Pesic said, via ESPN.

There were more than 6.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 392,500 deaths attributed to it. Germany was among the hardest-hit countries in Europe, and had more than 183,000 cases as of Friday. They had just around 500 new cases on Thursday alone, however, down from more than 6,000 exactly two months prior.

Workers are busy in the Audi Dome with the final preparations for the start of the Basketball Bundesliga on Saturday.
Workers are busy in the Audi Dome with the final preparations for the start of the Basketball Bundesliga on Saturday. (Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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