Four regular-season NFL games scheduled to be played in London this season — including one involving the Miami Dolphins — likely will be shifted to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Sunday report from the British publication, The Daily Mail.
Dolphins executives and the NFL’s chief spokesperson declined to confirm or deny that report.
The NFL has said the regular-season schedule will be released by Saturday and that the season will be played in full and begin, as scheduled, on Sept. 10, despite the world health crisis.
But the league is planning several contingencies, including a possible delayed start to the season.
“The schedule will come out as normal, but we’re doing reasonable and responsible planning as we always do, inside of game operations,” league executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press.
The Dolphins were scheduled to play a home game in London this fall, with the opponent not yet disclosed.
Two of the three other games in London were scheduled to feature the Jacksonville Jaguars, against undetermined opponents, on consecutive weeks. Also, Atlanta and Denver were scheduled to meet this season in London.
And the Arizona Cardinals have said they are hosting a game in Mexico in 2020, against an undisclosed opponent.
But The Daily Mail reported Sunday that “given the uncertainty surrounding international travel and mass events, hosting games in London this October is not feasible and the NFL (is) expected to complete their entire season in America.”
The Dolphins agreed to give up a home game in South Florida in 2020 because teams bidding for Super Bowls are required to host an International game every five years. South Florida, which hosted Super Bowl 54 in January, will likely bid to host the game again in 2025 and 2026.
The Dolphins’ 2020 home schedule will include games against the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.
The Dolphins’ 2020 road schedule will include games against New England, the Jets, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
The dates and times for those games are expected to be announced this week.
The Dolphins have played four times in London and twice in Mexico.
The Dolphins last played outside the United States in 2018, losing 20-0 to New Orleans in London.
Miami played the Giants in London in 2007 in the first regular-season game played outside North America, the Raiders in London in 2014 and the Jets in London in 2015.
Two other NFL schedule notes:
— If college football isn’t played this fall, the NFL might move some Sunday games to Saturday, according to The New York Post and Pro Football Talk.
— Scheduling games in empty stadiums or at neutral sites are reportedly among the contingency plans the NFL has discussed if coronovarius disrupts its season.
If the season needs to be pushed back, the NFL players’ union would need to approve that. The league and the players’ association reached a new labor agreement in March that runs the 2030 season.
Vincent said the league would not take virus tests away from the public.
“General public safety is first and foremost.”
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