In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is calling for all indoor athletic events in the state to continue without spectators other than athletes, parents and others essential to the game.
As of now, outdoor events may continue as scheduled, DeWine said in a Tweet.
The request could affect multiple Ohio State sports, including the men's hockey team's Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Michigan at Nationwide Arena on Sunday, as well as the opening round games of the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which are slated to be played in Dayton.
So far, it does not appear the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Columbus Blue Jackets intend to comply with DeWine's request. The Ohio High School Athletic Association, however, has already announced that it will proceed with limited spectators.
Cavs and Blue Jackets told DeWine their arenas have good ventilation systems that quickly switch out air ... governor tells people not to go to games, but not making it mandatory. "Our goal is to dramatically slow down the spread, thus saving lives."— Randy Ludlow (@RandyLudlow) March 10, 2020
“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the Governor,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”
The move comes days after the first cases of the coronavirus in the state, where three people tested positive for the virus in Cuyahoga County. The Ohio State University has also acted in response to the virus, suspending all in-person classes until at least March 30.
Ohio State also announced a hiatus on the scheduling of "new, non-essential events" through April 20, and is encouraging event organizers for scheduled non-essential events between now and then “to immediately evaluate whether these events should continue in person.” As of Tuesday afternoon, though, Ohio State had not yet announced any postponements, cancellations or restrictions of athletic events.