OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Officials with the NCAA announced major changes to upcoming events amid the coronavirus outbreak which includes limiting fan attendance.
“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 I men’s and women’s basketball tournament, 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,” a statement by NCAA President Mark Emmert read.
The NCAA joins a host of other national events that have taken major precautions amid the coronavirus scare.
Large events have been postponed or canceled. Dozens of universities are temporarily shutting down campuses. A New York suburb now has a “containment zone.” And more companies are urged to let their employees work from home.
“Keeping the workplace safe, keeping the home safe, keeping the school safe and keeping commercial establishments safe — this should be universal for the country,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We would like the country to realize that, as a nation, we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago,” he said.
For the first time in 11 years, the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
The United States has more than 1,000 cases of novel coronavirus, and at least 33 people have died.