The show will go on, but like most sporting governing bodies, with only a handful of fans allowed to take in the games in the WIAA state boys and girls basketball tournaments.
On Thursday, the WIAA and the University of Wisconsin issued press releases stating that all remaining winter tournament series games, including the boys basketball state tournament next week at the Kohl Center, would operate with limited attendance.
According to the WIAA release, the WIAA will be limiting attendance to all remaining winter sports tournaments:
In accordance with policies and guidance from public health organizations and the World Health Organization for mass gatherings,will be limiting attendance at the remainder of all winter tournament events scheduled March 12-14 and March 19-21.
The guidelines for mass gatherings calls for restriction of public events to 50-250 attendees, depending on the event and venue. This pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances that make these decisions and actions prudent and necessary.
The policy limits attendance at the State Tournament to 88 tickets per team, two supervisors and a limit of 22 team personnel. In addition, the boys and girls 3-Point Challenge competitions scheduled for Saturday will be held with participants and one chaperone allowed.
Contest officials, timer, scorekeeper, announcer, team host, WIAA staff, WIAA athletic trainers and Board of Control members deemed essential to the administration of the tournament are permitted.
Cheerleaders, pep bands, school photographers, videographers and on-site sponsors will be prohibited.
The live television broadcast of the State Tournament will be available; however, limited radio stations will be given clearance to broadcast. Press accommodations will be restricted to either a small pool that would provide copy to the state or to one reporter per school team.
Tickets for the WIAA Girls and Boys State Basketball tournaments, except the party of 88 immediate family members, will be refunded in full. Please allow staff time to make these refunds and contact the WIAA office only if you do not see a refund to your account within two weeks of the tournament.
Any tickets purchased at school will we be refunded by your school and not the Resch Center or the WIAA.
In addition, the University of Wisconsin issued its own press release about next week's State Boys Basketball Championships at the Kohl Center, on the UW-Madison campus:
With the health of student athletes and their families, spectators, and the greater community in mind, general admission tickets will not be available for the WIAA Boys State Basketball tournament. The tournament is scheduled for March 19-21 at the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. While competition is expected to continue, teams will be allotted a specified number of tickets per roster member.
This decision has been made in consultation with local and state public health officials to discourage and limit large gatherings on campuses in light of the COVID-19 situation. The limit on the number of tickets is designed to reflect social distancing recommendations from public health officials.
Tickets will be given to each team for distribution. UW–Madison discourages non-essential personal travel. All spectators should stay educated and use caution when considering travel. Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Everyone is asked to stay informed and use their best judgment when deciding to attend the event.
The State Boys & Girls Basketball Tournaments will be televised and streamed live. More information and local listings can be found on the WIAA website.
All policies and operations related to this event are subject to change based on the ongoing monitoring of COVID-19. Updates will be shared via the WIAA and UW–Madison.
On Wednesday, the UW announced that events were canceled on campus through April 10 with few exceptions:
All campus events (including Division of Extension sponsored events outside of Dane County) of more than 50 people are canceled through at least April 10, with limited exceptions to be granted by deans or vice chancellors.
The WIAA announced earlier Wednesday that they were still looking at options for the boys basketball event:
At this time, we have discussed options for continuing to conduct the WIAA Boys Basketball State Tournament. We will continue discuss all options.
The State Boys Basketball Tournament is scheduled to run March 19-21. Most sectional semi-final rounds are to be played Thursday night across Wisconsin at high schools, with neutral-site state quarterfinals set for Saturday.
Dane County had two reported cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday morning.
Several other sporting governing bodies had taken measures, from limiting fans to events all the way up to the NBA suspending the season, to combat the spread of the virus.
Information from the University of Wisconsin and the WIAA was used in this report.