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Ohio governor asks for indoor events to be held without fans, impacting Cavaliers, NCAA tournaments

The Cavaliers might be playing in an empty home arena. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The governor of Ohio has made recommendations to help stop the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 that would bar spectators from attending indoor professional games for the time being. It would also keep fans from the men’s and women’s MAC tournament and the First Four.

Ohio recommends no spectators at indoor events

Gov. Mike DeWine made a series of recommendations in a briefing Tuesday, the largest of which will impact athletic events in the state from the prep to professional level.

DeWine asked that all indoor sporting events be played without spectators. He tweeted that the only ones in the gymnasium should be athletes, parents and “others essential to the game.”

The governor said he had "just gotten off the phone" with the OHSAA, the state’s high school athletic association, and most of the state's professional sports teams to relay the directive, per WKYC in Columbus.

"We are at a critical time, and we need to get this right," he said, via WKYC. "Every action each of us takes will help save lives."

High school state tournaments are underway with the championships scheduled throughout the month. Outdoor sporting events are allowed to continue, including the state’s MLB teams.

NBA, NHL teams to play without fans?

The recommendation would keep fans from attending games for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets as well as minor league teams in the state.

The Cavaliers are playing on the road until March 24. The Blue Jackets host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and have two more home games before the month ends.

The MLS’ Columbus Crew FC announced earlier Tuesday it would institute additional protocols to keep everyone involved safe, such as more hand sanitizers and additional employees to keep areas clean. The team hosts Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

NCAA First Four, MAC tournament could go on without fans

The directive, if followed, means the MAC postseason men’s and women’s basketball tournament and NCAA First Four would be played to empty stands. Earlier in the day, the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s conference tournaments.

The MAC tournament is held at the higher seeds in the first round and then pivots to Cleveland for the quarterfinals through finals. It’s scheduled for March 11-14.

The First Four is held in Dayton on March 17-18.

The NCAA reiterated again Tuesday that it is following its advisory panel and the recommendations given from the Centers for Disease Control and local health officials. So far, the NCAA said, it has no plans to cancel events or make any changes.

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