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March 08, 2020

Sixers postpone Youth Foundation Gala as precautionary coronavirus measure

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The Sixers have postponed their annual Youth Foundation Gala, the team announced on Sunday afternoon, amid rising concerns around the world about the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The Youth Foundation Gala, which raised over $1 million for local youth in Philadelphia, Camden, and surrounding areas in 2019, was scheduled for its fifth annual event on Monday, March 9th. In a statement released by the team, the Sixers stressed that the intimate nature of the event was behind the reasoning to postpone it, in an effort to protect their players and staff and offer the event promised to their guests at a later date.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Sixers Youth Foundation Gala scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed. The Gala will be rescheduled at a later date. 

During this period of increased focus on public health due to COVID-19, teams and players across professional sports have been advised by leagues and public health officials to exercise caution with high fives, handshakes, and other personal interactions to best protect the health and well-being of all. 

As such, the decision to postpone was made to ensure we can preserve and deliver sometime in the future an intimate event where attendees can expect to interact with our athletes with photos, autographs and personal conversations. 

To continue to raise funds to support important youth programming across the Greater Philadelphia Area, the Sixers Youth Foundation Gala silent auction will proceed as planned through Wednesday. Fans can bid on one-of-a-kind items by clicking HERE. All proceeds benefit youth in the Greater Philadelphia Area. 

We look forward to hosting the Gala in the near future and appreciate the understanding of all those scheduled to attend.

The NBA, like other sports leagues and businesses around the world, has ratcheted up their focus on preparing for potential coronavirus concerns. Teams have received memos from the league regarding best practices day-to-day, and the NBA has gone so far to prepare teams for the possibility of games behind closed doors, a possibility Lakers star LeBron James bristled at over the weekend.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, it's impossible. I ain't playing," James said when presented with the possibility. "I ain't got the fans in the crowd. That's who I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for the fans, that's what it's all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do."

The Sixers would not offer comment on that theoretical possibility, but following the guidance of league officials and health experts, the Sixers are taking a look at, for example, essential travel and large group situations, with the goal being to minimize risk for all staffers and not just the members of the active roster.

A Sixers spokesman said the team has been in frequent (read: multiple times per day) communication with the NBA, Wells Fargo Center and public health officials to monitor the situation and best ensure the health and well-being of players, staff members, fans and partners. The spokesman also credited the Wells Fargo Center for its efforts in driving best practices for sanitation before, during and after events at the arena. 

Philadelphia's next game is on Wednesday, March 11th against the Detroit Pistons.


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