Coronavirus outbreak keeping NCAA on its toes as men's and women's basketball tournaments nearcloseVideo
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Coronavirus outbreak fears are looming large over major sporting events coming in the next several weeks, including the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournaments.
The NCAA said Monday it is getting ready for any scenario regarding the coronavirus. The first set of games is in Dayton, Ohio. As of Tuesday, there were no cases of coronavirus reported in the state, but collegiate officials were ready to take precautions.
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“If you can think of it, it's something that we've gone through an analysis around,” NCAA chief operating officer Donald Remy told Bloomberg. “We've contingency-planned for all circumstances.”
The men’s and women’s tournaments begin in two weeks. Fourteen cities will host games, including Atlanta on April 6. More cities will host women’s games in the first two rounds before four host the regional finals and New Orleans hosts the Final Four and championship game.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of these student-athletes,” Remy told Bloomberg. “As we're thinking about these circumstances, we're thinking about how to preserve that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and at the same time how to make sure that any decision we make is grounded in medical science.”
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The NCAA also published health guidance measures on its website regarding the coronavirus:
“In the wake of an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the NCAA is taking concerted steps to maintain the first-rate delivery of NCAA championship experiences for student-athletes, team personnel and fans. Championships staff members will work in conjunction with host schools, conference offices and community partners to monitor COVID-19 developments through the NCAA Sport Science Institute.
“As they would when confronting any public health crisis, championships staff will add appropriate safeguards in coordination with campus and local health response teams to address concerns about the virus.”
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The NCAA advised schools that if any athlete shows symptoms of the coronavirus, they should coordinate with local and state health officials on the next steps.
Separately, the National College Players Association (NCPA) – a student-athlete advocacy group – asked the NCAA on Saturday to consider keeping fans out of arenas due to fears of the virus.
“In regard to the NCAA's March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present,” the group said in a statement.
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The NCPA cited Google canceling a summit in California for why the NCAA “must act now.”
“The NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” the group said. “Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.”