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Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf signed an order Friday exempting foreign-born professional athletes from being denied entry into the country.
"Professional sporting events provide much-needed economic benefits, but equally important, they provide community pride and national unity," Wolf wrote. "In today's environment, Americans need their sports. It's time to reopen the economy and it's time we get our professional athletes back to work."
Wolf's order specifically mentions Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the Women's National Basketball Association, the PGA and LPGA tours, and the ATP and WTA tennis tours. In addition to athletes, the order also exempts each league's "essential staff and their dependents."
MLB, the NBA, and the NHL are all working on plans to either begin or resume their seasons amid the pandemic.
It was reported Friday that MLB safety protocols will not require players to quarantine if they are returning to the U.S. from abroad; some foreign-born players returned to their respective home countries when the league halted spring training in mid-March.
Some in the NBA are apparently hoping players will be allowed to report directly to potential game sites in order to avoid quarantining. Orlando's Disney World is reportedly emerging as a top site to host the resumed basketball season.