March Madness may be played without fans in the stands this year after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that he is asking sports teams to play without spectators over concerns about the Coronavirus.
DeWine asked teams that play games at indoor arenas to consider limiting spectators “other than the athletes, parents, and others essential to the game,” the New York Post reported.
Ohio is to host several games in the tournament. Dayton, Ohio’s UD Arena is scheduled to host the First Four of the NCAA Tournament starting next Tuesday and Wednesday. Cleveland is also set to host the first and second-round games.
Several of the state’s other teams are faced with difficult decisions concerning the governor’s request.
The Cleveland Cavaliers still have five home games on their 2020 NBA schedule but have not announced what they might do to observe the governor’s requests. The games start on May 24 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets is facing the governor’s request sooner as their next home game is this week. And the team has decided to ignore the request.
“The Columbus Blue Jackets are aware of the recommendation by Governor DeWine that events at indoor sports and entertainment facilities be conducted without spectators. We have been in contact with the National Hockey League and, given the facts before us, it has been determined that our scheduled games, including this Thursday vs. Pittsburgh and Saturday vs. Nashville, will go on as scheduled and be open to ticketed fans that wish to attend,” the team said in a statement on Tuesday.
One other Ohio team has already announced that it will not be honoring the governor’s request. The Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer will be playing its game per usual with the fans in the stands on Saturday.
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