NCAA says March Madness games will still happen, but without fans

The NCAA has announced that in light of the growing coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, it will hold the March Madness games, but that they'll be played without any fans in the stadium. The games will include the necessary staff, as well as some family members of the players. Everyone else will have to catch the games through cable or streaming services.READ: March Madness Live app's best feature is no longer limited to Apple TV

March Madness refers to the NCAA's college basketball tournament, which usually involves fans attending live games. This year, however, the NCAA has decided to limit the basketball games to only players, staff, and some family members in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus through packed stadiums.

The novel coronavirus can cause a disease called COVID-19, which can range in severity from asymptomatic all the way to deadly. In most healthy adults, the disease is mild, but in a small percentage of people, particularly the elderly, the disease can be very severe, requiring hospitalization and potentially even ventilator use.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic today, emphasizing the need for communities to take steps to prevent the rapid spread of this virus. Public health officials say the virus will continue to spread, but that countries must take steps to delay as many cases as possible, preventing hospitals from being overrun in a short period of time.

In a statement today, the NCAA said:

While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families.