The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has taken the world by storm the past several weeks, has found its latest group of victims.
Those victims are fans of March Madness
On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA released a statement outlining it will continue the 2020 men’s and women’s basketball tournament amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but without fans, only allowing essential staff and limited family members to be in attendance. In the statement, NCAA President Mark Emmert outlined the precautions in place for the upcoming tournament due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” said Emmert. “Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family attendance.”
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed.”
According to the Associated Press, Emmert says the NCAA will also consider relocating the Final Four from the Mercedez-Benz Stadium and into a smaller view in the Atlanta area. Regional sites for tournament games are also under consideration to be being moved to a smaller venue to limit potential exposure to the virus.
The Mid-American and Big West conferences have both followed similar footsteps for their upcoming tournament games, banning fans from being in attendance. However, conferences such as the Big Ten have made the decision to continue as scheduled, stating it will “continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.”
Not only has the COVID-19 virus affected college sports, but professional sports as well. This past Monday, the MLB, MLS, NBA, and NHL released a joint statement, temporarily limiting locker room access to players and essential staff only.
The NBA’s Golden State Warriors went the extra mile.
Earlier today, the organization said it will restrict fans from attending their next two home games at the Chase Center. This move makes the Warriors one of the first professional sports organizations to make this decision. Along with that, they will cancel or postpone all events at the arena through March 21st. Other notable events affected by the COVID-19 outbreak are SXSW, Coachella, Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and E3.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins on March 17th, while the women’s tournament starts on March 20th.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter @koryewoods