Advocacy group says March Madness games should be played without fans due to coronavirus concerns

Chris Cwik
·2 min read
NCAA crowds.
Could March Madness games be played in empty arenas? (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The National College Players Association has concerns over whether the NCAA has taken the proper steps to protect athletes from the coronavirus. In a statement, the NCPA called on the NCAA to protect college players from the virus, even mentioning playing March Madness games in empty arenas as a possible preventative measure.

The full NCPA statement reads:

“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes. They should also make public which actions will be taken and when. Precautions should include cancelling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets, and press events. Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.

“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should also be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present. Google just cancelled a summit in California and Amazon is encouraging its employees to avoid all nonessential travel because of coronavirus concerns.

“The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”

Nearly 3,000 people worldwide have died due to the coronavirus. The World Health Organization has classified the risk of a global coronavirus outbreak to “very high.”

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, major companies have canceled or pulled out of events where employees would be exposed to large crowds. Sony pulled out of PAX East as a result of coronavirus concerns. Olympic qualifiers have already been canceled over fear of spreading the virus.

Given that Olympic qualifiers have been canceled and postponed, it was only a matter of time before major sporting events in the United States came into question. For the most part, NCAA and NBA games have occurred as planned, with plenty of fans in attendance.

That could change depending on how much the coronavirus spreads in the weeks leading up to the NCAA tournament.

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