NFL to go ahead with draft, cancels Las Vegas events

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The NFL will hold its annual draft next month as scheduled but the coronavirus outbreak has forced cancellation of public events due to take place around the three-day spectacle in Las Vegas, the league said in a statement on Monday.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would televise the April 23-25 draft as per usual but there would be no events for the public in Las Vegas.

The announcement came a day after several Las Vegas casinos and hotels on the city's main strip announced they were shuttering as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"This decision reflects our foremost priority – the health and safety of all fans and citizens," said Goodell.

"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."

The NFL draft has become a major part of the American football calendar, and usually attracts hundreds of thousands of fans to the city chosen to host the event.

The draft is the latest event to fall victim to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has ground all major sports in the United States and Canada to a standstill.