In an extraordinary move, the NCAA announced Wednesday the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be held as scheduled at all venues next week but without fans present.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement that he made the unprecendented decision to move the events behind closed doors after consulting with public health officials, in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected hundreds of people across the United States over the past week.

Attendance at the NCAA tournament events will be limited to essential staff and family members, Emmert 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,” Emmert said in part of the statement. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”

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