NCAA, Oregon State to limit game attendance in response to COVID-19 strain of coronavirus

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As of March 11, 2020, the NCAA has limited attendance of all of its tournament basketball games to “essential staff and limited family” only, while the NBA has suspended season play outright for the foreseeable future. 

Oregon State Athletics also released a statement on March 11 stating that event attendance will be restricted to “essential event staff, student-athletes, and coaches” and will go into effect on March 14. 

“The safety of our student-athletes, staff, and fans is paramount,” Oregon State Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes said. “We have made this decision based on the latest recommendations by medical professionals, the NCAA, and the PAC-12 Conference.”

The actions taken from all organizations come in response to the continuing outbreak of COVID-19. In an attempt to limit the spread and impact of the virus, the NCAA and NBA are stepping into uncharted territory for their sports, but are mirroring actions taken elsewhere in the world.

On March 4, 2020, the Italian government issued a statement also in response to COVID-19 that barred fans from attending sporting events of any kind until April 3. The actions in Italy mirror those taken by the NCAA for their upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, but the NBA became the first major sporting league to outright postpone events with the virus still spreading. 

The announcement from the NCAA will have a noticeable effect on Oregon State basketball for both the women’s and men’s teams. The men’s team is currently in the middle of PAC-12 tournament play, where it was earlier announced that the remainder of the conference tournament games will be played without fans. The women’s team, meanwhile, is projected to be one of the top sixteen seeds in the NCAA tournament, which would mean the first two rounds of the tournament would be played in Corvallis at Gill Coliseum.

As of March 12, no further statements have been issued from any organization about the duration of their recent actions. As it stands now, the NBA has been postponed until further notice, while the NCAA is scheduled to finish out their basketball season without an in-person audience. The MLB and NHL have announced plans to follow suit.

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