The NCAA made a stunning decision on Wednesday to close the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to the fans due to concerns over COVID-19. That means all of the games during March Madness would be played in empty arenas and not everyone is pleased with the decision.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley sounded off on the decision and said that playing without fans is the wrong move.
Instead of playing games behind closed doors, Barkley suggests the NCAA should “shut down” March Madness until more information about the novel coronavirus pandemic is available.
“I think we’re going to have to shut down March Madness until we know more,” Barkley said.
“A lot of people make a lot of money on March Madness. I think we should honor our deal. It’s not my billion-dollar check to write, I understand that, but I think we should show leadership.” He later added on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “Other than the Olympics, March Madness is the greatest thing I have ever experienced. The last few years we have been covering March Madness. It would be a travesty if the fans weren’t there.”
The coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation or postponing of many large events including Coachella, SXSW, the Winter X Games, Stagecoach, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and more. The NBA also announced it will be suspending play until further notice.
"I think we're going to have to shut down March Madness until we know more." —Charles Barkley pic.twitter.com/hfogDJlYNl
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) March 12, 2020
In the United States, coronavirus cases have topped 1,000 across 34 states with at least 32 deaths — most of the deaths in the state of Washington.
The coronavirus mainly comes from animals and a majority of those who were infected early either worked at or frequently visited the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, according to The Guardian. The virus is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).
The Wuhan coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission.” That means an infected person can pass the virus by sneezing or coughing on another person as well as by direct contact.
While a majority of the cases have been detected in China, it has now reached many countries around the world including the United States. It has also been confirmed in Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and many other eastern countries.