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March sadness: NCAA tournament to be played without audience due to coronavirus

photo credit: Nagashia Jackson for Steed Media

The coronavirus continues to affect the quality of life for people around the world. The latest social gathering to be affected by the virus is the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

On March 11, the NCAA announced that it will restrict fan access to the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak. All other winter sports championships will be under the same restriction.

Five days from now, the highly-anticipated Selection Sunday will take place as the 68-team NCAA bracket will be revealed. Historically, the NCAA basketball tournaments have stood as major events for fans of college sports. Between ticket sales and TV revenue, the annual tournament earns about $700 million annually. The lack of fans will also affect the economic impact on the city of Atlanta which was set to host the NCAA championship finals.

In a statement, NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance.”

Along with the NCAA, some professional sports team have also restricted fan access. On March 11, San Francisco announced a ban on public events with more than 1,000 people. As a result, the Golden State Warriors, which plays its home games in San Francisco, will play the remainder of its home games without an audience.