Coronavirus Worries Leave College Basketball Teams Playing with No One in the Stands to Watch
The game took place Friday in Baltimore in front of a nearly empty gym
A Friday basketball game between Yeshiva University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is believed to be the first U.S. sporting event without a crowd due to coronavirus worries, according to the Associated Press, which was covering the event.
The AP reports that the first-round NCAA Division III tournament game took place in a “mostly empty” 1,110-seat gym while police manned doors outside where signs read: “No spectators.”
“In light of Maryland’s recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 and based on CDC guidance for large gatherings,” a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins University said in a statement, “we have determined that it is prudent to hold this tournament without spectators.”
Anxiety about the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus has caused other sporting events around the world to be either canceled or held inside empty stadiums, without fans allowed in to watch. For example, in Italy fans won’t be allowed to watch Serie A soccer matches in person until at least early April.
On Wednesday, Chicago State University announced that it was canceling two upcoming away games at Seattle University and Utah Valley University.
The coronavirus has infected about 101,000 around the world and killed 3,460, as of Friday.
There are 260 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 14 people have died.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.
Health officials have also maintained that the risk to the average American is low.
The AP reports that Johns Hopkins University staff “heavily disinfected” the gym prior to Friday’s game at the school.
“We did that specific to make sure that there were no questions that we were doing our due diligence, that everything was clean and ready to go,” Johns Hopkins’ director of athletic communications, Ernie Larossa, told the AP. “We’re just doing our due diligence to make sure that everybody has a safe environment to compete in.”
The Yeshiva team had their local hotel reservations canceled unexpectedly on Thursday night, forcing the team to find new accommodations in the area, the AP also reported.
A student at the university tested positive for coronavirus, though school officials said they are not a member of the basketball team and haven’t been on campus since Feb. 27, according to the AP.
The team’s coach, Elliot Steinmetz, told the AP that he “made it very clear to the hotel that it’s discrimination” when he spoke to the hotel staff.
Ahead of the game, he told the AP: “This is definitely first time we’ve had that situation where there’s no fans in the gym.”