1. Sports

March Madness will go on in Tampa and elsewhere, but without fans?

Barring spectators is “not a rational strategy,” NCAA’s chief medical officer tells The Wall Street Journal.
In this 2011 file photo, Florida's Patric Young dunks during an NCAA Tournament game in Tampa.
In this 2011 file photo, Florida's Patric Young dunks during an NCAA Tournament game in Tampa. [ Times ]
Published Mar. 7, 2020
Updated Mar. 9, 2020

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Barring spectators from NCAA Tournament basketball games, including those scheduled March 19 and 21 in Tampa, is “not a rational strategy” for the association at this moment and is “very unlikely,” the association’s chief medical officer told the Wall Street Journal.

“I think a worst-case scenario is that it’s played behind closed doors,” Brian Hainline said Friday. “It would be very, very difficult to cancel a championship and have it at any other time.”

Concerns about the coronavirus have led to event cancellations in the U.S. and abroad. On Friday, the South By Southwest festival, which brings hundreds of thousands of people around the world to Austin, Texas, became the latest event called off to prevent the virus’ spread.

The NCAA’s options include screening players before the competition, screening spectators or relying on spectators to heed public service messages to stay home if they don’t feel good, said Carlos Del Rio, chairman of an NCAA advisory panel on the coronavirus.

All-session tickets for second and third-round games at Amalie Arena include six games and are available through for $210. Florida State is considered a favorite for a top-seed in the Tampa regional.

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