ATLANTA — It appears that the NBA All-Star game is coming to Atlanta – even after the pushback of some players.
Now the city’s top leader, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, is also voicing her concerns about the event taking place in Atlanta, given the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging around the country.
Bottoms issued a statement Tuesday saying under normal circumstances, the city would be grateful to host the event, but she said “this is not a typical year.”
“I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks,” Bottoms said.
“We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game,” Bottoms added.
ESPN reports that the NBA sent a memo to teams Monday explaining its agreement with the National Basketball Players Association and protocols for players participating and those who are not.
The Associated Press also reported that players taking part in the festivities in Atlanta will largely have to remain in their hotels when not at the arena. All players and coaches — whether part of All-Star events or not — will have to continue getting tested daily for the virus.
The news comes about three weeks after a source source told 11Alive the Hawks were in active dialogue with the NBA about hosting the annual event at State Farm Arena in early March.
The NBA All-Star 2021 weekend, which was initially set for Feb. 12-14, 2021 in Indianapolis, was called off.
“Public health conditions prevented the Pacers, the NBA All-Star Host Committee and the NBA from appropriately planning and executing fan-focused All-Star activities in Indianapolis that were envisioned for this February,” officials said in a November news release. The event in Indianapolis was then set for Feb. 16-18, 2024.
Just a few weeks ago, the Atlanta Hawks opened its stadium to fans for the first time since the pandemic started – but with limitations.
11Alive has reached out to the NBA and the Hawks for further comment.