NCAA Cancels March Madness Due to Coronavirus

Tobias Hoonhout

The NCAA decided Thursday to cancel March Madness, after saying Wednesday that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be held without fans to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement, adding that its remaining winter and spring championships in other sports would also be canceled.

The news comes after all potential top seeds Duke and Kansas said they would not participate in the tournament.

NCAA president Mark Emmert made his initial decision to ban fans from attending games after the NCAA formed an advisory panel of epidemiology and public-health experts on Tuesday to review the situation and “make decisions in the coming days.” But the decisions of multiple conferences to cancel their tournaments — in light of states declaring public-health emergencies and banning large public gatherings — made the outright cancellation more likely.

Major sports cancellations began Wednesday night after the NBA suspended its season indefinitely over a player on the Utah Jazz testing positive for coronavirus. The NHL and the MLS also suspended their competitions on Thursday, while the MLB pushed back its start to the season.

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