NCAA allows limited fan attendance at men’s tournament games

The governing body said Friday it is permitting 25% capacity at the venues to allow for social distancing

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The NCAA will allow a limited number of fans to attend all rounds of next month’s men’s basketball tournament in Indiana.

The governing body said Friday it is permitting 25% capacity at the venues to allow for social distancing. That figure will include all participants and essential staff along with the family members of team players and coaches.

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Attendees must wear face coverings, and cleaning and disinfecting efforts will be emphasized at venues in keeping with COVID-19 safety protocols.

The NCAA said in its statement it acted in conjunction with state and local health officials. NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said the decision also followed conversations with the organization’s medical advisory group and will rely on testing and monitoring services from the Indiana University Health system.

In this Jan. 19, 2017, file photo, Mitch Barnhart, athletic director at Kentucky, takes part in a panel discussion at the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

“The No. 1 priority for decisions around the tournament continues to be the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” Hainline said.

The NCAA had previously announced the 68-team tournament will be played entirely in Indiana because of the pandemic, with most games in Indianapolis. The tournament will begin with First Four games on March 18 at home arenas for Big Ten Conference schools Purdue and Indiana, with those venues located about a one-hour drive — in opposite directions — from downtown Indianapolis.

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At Indiana, the school said it will allow up to 500 fans for tournament games at Assembly Hall with some seats reserved for local medical workers and first responders who have been vaccinated.

The Final Four takes place in Indianapolis on April 3. The national championship game follows two days later.

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