The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set to tip off next month, but as preparations continue one thing remains unclear: whether or not fans will be allowed to attend.
IndyStar reports that the NCAA, despite a pledge to announce a decision in early February and multiple inquiries from media, has not yet answered the question on whether or not fan attendance will be permitted at the tournament, which will take place wholly within the state of Indiana.
The NCAA announced its plan for a single-location tournament in January, with COVID-19 in mind. Last year’s tournament was one of the first major sporting events to be canceled due to the spread of the virus.
Several college basketball teams have had their seasons disrupted by COVID this year. Many teams have canceled or postponed games, or temporarily paused team activities to follow best practices.
When the plans for the Indianapolis-based tournament were first announced, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said that family members would be allowed to attend, but a decision on general fan attendance would be made at a later date.
Since then, county health department officials have outlined some details on protocols for the event, for players and family members who attend.
IndyStar reports that no more than 420 family members will be allowed to attend each game. Each member of a qualifying team can invite up to six family members, but they may have no in-person contact during the event.
Players will be required to provide seven consecutive negative COVID-19 tests prior to arriving in Indianapolis for the tournament. A positive test will require individuals to undergo a self-isolation period before being allowed to participate. Once in Indianapolis, players will be under “strict quarantine” until they test negative two more times consecutively.
On Wednesday, Indiana reported 933 more COVID cases and 20 new deaths.