Dr. Anthony Fauci promotes fan-free return for sports

How different would sports be without fans? (1:28)

Rex Ryan and Domonique Foxworth believe fans would be happy just to see sports on television instead of stressing over an empty arena. (1:28)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert and one of the faces of the United States' fight against the coronavirus, says the only way professional sports will happen this summer is by holding events without fans in attendance and by keeping players in hotels.

"There's a way of doing that," Fauci told Snapchat's Peter Hamby as part of a weeklong interview series. "Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don't wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out."

Fauci, who specifically addressed a question about an abbreviated baseball season and the start of football, said he thought there would be enough interest from fans to watch games, even if they could not attend.

Major League Baseball and its players have been considering plans that could allow them to start the season in a single location, likely Arizona, with no fans attending, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan last week. On Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said his state would be willing to host all 30 major league teams if conditions allow for it.

Fauci's comments come a week after 72% of Americans polled by Seton Hall University's Stillman School of Business said they would not attend if sporting events resumed without a vaccine for the coronavirus. Just 13% of Americans said they would feel comfortable attending games the way they had in the past. A second poll this week had a slight plurality, 46% to 36%, saying the NFL season should not open as scheduled in early September.

President Donald Trump, who has regularly received input from Fauci, said Tuesday that he is including figures from the sports world -- including NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- to help shape his plans to reopen the coronavirus-battered economy.

Fauci noted to Hamby his interest in being able to watch the World Series champion Washington Nationals.

"I want to see them play again," he said.

Two more parts of the Snapchat interview with Fauci are scheduled to be released Thursday and Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.