The men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments will take place with only essential personnel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
March Madness will take place without fans in the stands.
The NCAA made it official on Thursday afternoon that only essential team personnel will be allowed entry for the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, which are scheduled to begin next week. Precautions were put in place this week for the various conference tournaments taking place while the Ivy League canceled it’s tournaments outright.
An advisory panel was formed earlier when it became apparent that COVID-19 was a real threat and measures needed to be taken. The panel released a statement saying:
"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 our players, employees, and fans."
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a separate statement saying while it was a difficult decision, and while he understands it is a disappointing one, it was the right decision.
"“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. 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 1 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 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.”"
The men’s NCAA Tournament is scheduled to begin with the First Four on Tuesday, March 17 with the Field of 64 beginning play across four regions on Thursday, March 19.
The women’s tournament is scheduled to begin on March 20.
The novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The virus spreads similarly to influenza, with sneezing and coughing as the primary vectors of infection. To date, more than 90,000 cases have been confirmed in more than 70 countries worldwide, including the United States. The World Health Organization declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan. 30 and countries have implemented curfews, travel bans and mandatory quarantines to help prevent its spread.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.
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