The National Football League on Friday said that it will postpone three games this weekend due to a surge in Covid-19 cases among players and as the new omicron variant of the virus makes inroads across the United States.
The move by the NFL, the first postponement of professional football games this season, comes as the National Hockey League said it will postpone games of several teams for the same reason, and days after the NBA postponed two games involving the Chicago Bulls due to a Covid outbreak that affected 10 players.
More than 100 NFL players reportedly have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week.
The Raiders-Browns game in Cleveland, originally scheduled for Saturday, will be played Monday afternoon. Two games that were set for Sunday — the Seahawks vs the Rams and the Washington Football Team against the Philadelphia Eagles — will be played Tuesday night.
“We have made these schedule changes based on medical advice and after discussion with the [National Football League Players Association] as we are seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league,” the NFL said in a statement.
“We continue to make decisions in consultation with medical experts to ensure the health and safety of the NFL community,” the league said.
On Thursday, the NFL updated its protocols related to the coronavirus, saying “the changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant.”
The league said that it would require all clubs to immediately “implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel.”
And the NFL adjusted “the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19.”
The NHL on Friday said it was extending the period of game postponements for the Calgary Flames through the team’s previously scheduled game against the Seattle Kraken next Thursday.
The hockey league also said that it was postponing the games of both the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers through the completion of the NHL’s holiday break in its schedule on Dec. 26.
The Flames will have six games postponed, the Avalanche will see four games postponed, and three games will be postponed for the Panthers.