Despite public criticism from handfuls of outside observers and players who will take part in the exhibition, the NBA nevertheless is moving forward with plans to host the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made it clear in a statement shared by ESPN that fans “should not travel to Atlanta to party” for any basketball-related festivities.
“Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star Game, but this is not a typical year,” Bottoms said. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party.”
Bottoms added that Atlanta will hold “no NBA-sanctioned events open to the public” and that businesses have been asked “not to host events in the city related to this game.” Per an agreement between the NBA and National Basketball Players Association, players participating in the All-Star Game will be permitted to leave Atlanta hotels only for league-hosted events at State Farm Arena.
Tickets for the game will not be sold to the general public, but some vaccinated front-line workers may be invited to attend. The NFL welcomed 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers to Raymond James Stadium for the Super Bowl LV matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7.