The NCAA made an ominous announcement today on the upcoming Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, saying attendance would be limited to essential personnel and limited family members.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 12: The NCAA has canceled both the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine even signed an order prohibiting mass gatherings — including the NCAA games.
The NCAA said:
The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19. Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects the players, employees, and fans.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this includes the men’s Final Four weekend scheduled to take place in Atlanta. I assume the women’s Final Four in New Orleans will also be played under the same conditions.
This really stinks for everyone: players, schools, spectators, and host cities. I imagine playing in front of charged-up fans is a special experience for the participants. Fans who’ve waited to see their favorite teams play in the Big Dance will be disappointed, too.
Also affected will be cities set to host the games. That’s a lot of visitor money that restaurants, hotels, airports, and other businesses are losing.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/Eduard Stanishevskyi
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