NCAA: ‘Decisions in coming days’ on how coronavirus impacts tourney

This is a rendering of how Mercedes-Benz Stadium is supposed to look for the NCAA men’s Final Four on April 4-6.

The NCAA will decide “in the coming days” how coronavirus concerns will affect plans for the organization’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which are scheduled to begin next week.

In a statement Tuesday night, the NCAA said it “continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events. We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.”

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That statement came after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called Tuesday afternoon for indoor sports events in his state to bar spectators “other than the athletes, parents and others essential to the game” because of coronavirus.

The NCAA men’s tournament’s “First Four” games are scheduled to be played in Dayton, Ohio, March 17-18.

The tournament is scheduled to end with the Final Four in Atlanta on April 4-6.

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The NCAA’s Tuesday night statement came five hours after a different statement was released from NCAA President Mark Emmert. The earlier statement read in part: “(W)e will make decisions on our events based on the best, most current public-health guidance available. Neither the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel, made up of leading public health and infectious disease experts in America, nor the CDC or local health officials have advised against holding sporting events. In the event circumstances change, we will make decisions accordingly.”

Editor’s note: Concerns about the coronavirus have resulted in the cancellation of many events and large gatherings. The AJC will monitor these announcements and keep you informed about any postponements, rescheduling and cancellations, but it’s best to check with venues or event organizers before making plans to attend.

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