The NCAA announced on Wednesday that the upcoming NCAA tournament will not be open to the public in an effort to combat the coronavirus, which originated in China.
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “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,” Emmert continued. “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.”
Emmert’s statement came moments after the NCAA coronavirus panel released a statement recommending that there be no fans allowed at the games:
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.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. had over 1,100 confirmed coronavirus cases with 31 deaths.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned during a congressional testimony on Wednesday that the situation was going to get worse.
Incredible news!!! Getting a coronavirus vaccine into Phase 1 of testing has occurred the fastest “that anyone has ever done literally in the history of vaccinology.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH pic.twitter.com/T02OiOzPPi
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 11, 2020
“I can say we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now,” Fauci said. “How much worse we’ll get will depend on our ability to do two things: to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.”
“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” Fauci continued. “We need to know how many people … are infected, as we say, under the radar screen.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified, “As we experience the growing community spread in the United States, the burden of confronting this outbreak is shifting to states and local health professionals on the front lines.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.