All indoor athletic events in the state of Ohio will soon be free of spectators, including the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's request for no spectators at indoor events will soon become an order: no spectators other than athletes, parents and others essential to the game will be permitted at indoor athletic events, at minimum, in the state of Ohio.
This comes after DeWine asked event coordinators in the state to bar spectators on Tuesday, but some, including the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Columbus Blue Jackets, chose not to comply with the request.
Soon, they will be required to do so as DeWine said the request will be changed to an order in the next 24-36 hours.
At a minimum, what we said yesterday about mass gatherings will become an order. #COVID19— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 11, 2020
"One of the things that we have found in discussions, and this is very understandable, is some organizations need an order from the government," DeWine said during a press conference. "It is better for us to make their life easier by issuing an order."
The order, once in action, will affect not only the Cavaliers and the Blue Jackets, but 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 upcoming NCAA Tournament games in both Dayton and Cleveland. All will be played without spectators.
It will also affect scheduled high school state tournaments in Ohio, though OHSAA had already moved to limit spectators to family members only.
DeWine's original request allowed for outdoor events to continue as planned, but that could change as DeWine said "we have to look at everything now."
So far, four people have tested positive for the virus in the state of Ohio, according to the Department of Health, with 24 more under investigation. Three of the cases were found in Cuyahoga County and the most recent was discovered in Stark County. DeWine has issued a state of emergency.
Ohio State has also acted in response to the virus, suspending all in-person classes until at least March 30. The university 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.”