Amid growing concern regarding the new coronavirus outbreak in the United States, upcoming college championship events including the Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will limit spectators to only essential staff and some family, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, an NCAA panel that was established to plan around the new coronavirus recommended that all athletic competitions be played without spectators due to fears of the virus spreading.
“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 said in a statement Wednesday. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, more importantly, our student athletes.”
“Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed,” Emmert said.
The NCAA announcement comes in the wake of multiple organizations across the sports world canceling events or banning fans Wednesday due to the growing concerns around the coronavirus.
The massive tournament stretches through 14 U.S. cities in 2020 and accounts for more than 80 percent of the NCAA’s annual revenue, according to Bloomberg. The Final Four is set to take place in Atlanta.