Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will host three Division III men's basketball tournament games this weekend, without fans. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will host three Division III men’s basketball tournament games this weekend, without fans. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
March 6 (UPI) — Fans will not be allowed to attend the first two rounds of the Division III men’s basketball tournament at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Johns Hopkins announced the decision Thursday in response to recently confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland. The three games still will be played at Goldfarb Gym.

“In light of Maryland’s recently confirmed cases of COVID-19, and based on CDC guidance for large gatherings, we have determined that it is prudent to hold this tournament without spectators,” Johns Hopkins said.

“We are not making any determination about other JHU events at this time; while we await further guidance from public health authorities, we will be assessing large events on a case-by-case basis.”

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Yeshiva University is to play Worcester Polytechnic Institute at 1 p.m. EST Saturday at the gym. Johns Hopkins will face Penn State Harrisburg at 6 p.m. EST Saturday. The winners of those games will play Sunday. Fans who purchased tickets obtain a refund by contacting the Johns Hopkins athletic department.

Three cases of the virus have been confirmed in Maryland.

Other first and second round Division III men’s basketball tournament game sites include Defiance, Ohio; Springfield, Ohio; Ashland, Va.; Medford, Mass.; Brockport, N.Y.; Richardson, Texas; Swarthmore, Pa.; Platteville, Wis.; Collegeville, Minn.; Atlanta; Wooster, Ohio; Naperville, Ill.; Lincoln, Neb.; Hoboken, N.J.; and Springfield, Mass.

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The NCAA has not said whether fans would be allowed to attend the 2020 Division I men’s basketball tournament or Division I women’s basketball tournament. College sports’ governing body announced it created a COVID-19 advisory panel Tuesday that includes medical, public health and epidemiology experts.

“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” Chief Operating Officer Donald Remy said in a news release. “Today, we are planning to conduct our championships as planned. However, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.”

Remy also told Bloomberg the NCAA has contingency plans “for all circumstances.

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Seattle sports affected

Two teams have chosen to finish their regular seasons early in college basketball because of concerns about the coronavirus in Seattle. Chicago State University’s men’s team announced Tuesday that it would not travel for its final two games at Seattle University and Utah Valley. The Chicago State women’s team announced it canceled home games against Seattle University and Utah Valley.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City men’s basketball team also canceled their game Saturday at Seattle University, citing concerns about the coronavirus.

The virus has been linked to at least 13 deaths in Washington, including 12 in the Seattle area. A stadium employee at CenturyLink Field in Seattle recently tested positive for the coronavirus. The Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders and the XFL’s Seattle Dragons use the stadium for their home games.

A Seattle and King County public health spokesman told the Seattle Times that no precautions are required for fans who will attend upcoming events at CenturyLink Field.

“All King County residents should know that the risk for infection with COVID-19 is increasing in our community, should be aware of their symptoms and call their health care provider if they develop a cough, fever or other respiratory problems,” the spokesman said.

Other sports

League officials in the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS have recommended that players limit human-to-human contact and exchanging items with autograph seekers to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus. None of the leagues have plans to cancel or postpone games because of the outbreak.

On Thursday, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department in California requested that event organizers cancel large public gatherings, including sporting events. The San Jose Sharks play NHL games in Santa Clara County, but played their Thursday night game as planned. The Sharks announced enhanced cleaning measures at their arena for the foreseeable future.

MLS games have been played scheduled, but soccer is seeing more of a coronavirus impact in Europe. The Italian government announced Wednesday that all sporting events in that country — including Serie A soccer games — will be held without fans for the next month.

More than 100 people have died in Italy due to the outbreak. Several Serie A matches have also been postponed in Italy. France’s Ligue 1 and England’s Premier League have banned handshakes between players. Spain’s La Liga has set aside future dates for games that might be postponed due to the outbreak.

Fans have also been banned from attending several Champions League matches next week in Spain and Italy. Paris Saint-German said Friday it will face Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League matchup, with fans in the stands Wednesday at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

The final Olympic qualifying tournament for baseball at the Summer Games has been postponed from to June from April because of coronavirus concerns. That event will be held in Taiwan.