CLEVELAND — The continuing focus on the COVID-19 coronavirus includes concerns about athletic events across the nation -- including the possibility of games being played without fans present.
College basketball will take center stage this month as the NCAA men's and women's tournaments will tip off in just over two weeks. This includes first and second rounds at Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on March 20 and 22.
How are the NCAA and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission preparing?
On Tuesday, the NCAA announced that it has put together an advisory panel consisting of "leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts from their respective fields of study and NCAA member schools to guide its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease."
“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief operating officer. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly."
Chief Medical Officer for the NCAA, Dr. Brian Hainline, has been tasked with leading the group. In the group will be medical professionals from various organizations including the CDC and sports organizations.
The NCAA is ruling out no contingencies when it comes to coronavirus and the NCAA Tournament. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Remy did not dismiss the possibility of games being played with no fans in arenas. The games presumably would still be televised.
The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission provided the following statement on their coronavirus preparations to 3News:
"Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is committed to ensuring the safety of all our competitors and spectators during our hosted events. Our team is staying up to date on the facts as provided by the World Health Organization, Center Disease Control and local health agencies. We will continue to monitor CDC travel advisories with our event partners and plans will be adjusted, if needed. Ultimately, the decision to cancel any hosted event will fall upon the event’s rights holder or the hosting facility."
Check out our special Coronavirus section here.