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Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament closes T-Mobile Arena to fans

Pyrotechnics shoot into the air behind Washington Huskies players as the American national anthem is performed before the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament against the Oregon Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Soon after the NCAA announced Wednesday that it will close all championship events to fans amid coronavirus concerns, the Pac-12 said it will no longer allow fans in Las Vegas to attend the men’s basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena.

The event opened Wednesday with fans in attendance for Oregon State’s 71-69 victory over Utah, which was then followed up by Arizona’s 77-70 win over Washington.

The Pac-12 had already rescinded locker room access for reporters to prevent close contact with players and coaching staff members. MGM Resorts and the T-Mobile Arena partners were also expected to enhance cleaning protocols.

The Arizona State University Sun Devils made the decision early Tuesday to keep both the band and spirit squads from the Pac-12 Tournament.

With March Madness on deck next week, NCAA president Mark Emmert released a statement Wednesday announcing that the NCAA Tournament would continue on but without fans.

“The NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel recognizes the fluidity of COVID-19 and its impact on hosting events in a public space,” Emmert said in the statement. “COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in the United States, and behavioral risk mitigation strategies are the best option for slowing the spread of this disease. This is especially important because mildly symptomatic individuals can transmit COVID-19.

“Given these considerations, coupled with a more unfavorable outcome of COVID-19 in older adults – especially those with underlying chronic medical conditions – we recommend against sporting events open to the public. We do believe sport events can take place with only essential personnel and limited family attendance, and this protects our players, employees, and fans.”

The tournament bracket of 68 teams will fill out this Sunday and games will begin next Tuesday.


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