March Madness returns, NCAA tournament to have fans in stands

Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — March Madness will look a little more like tournaments of the past.

The NCAA announced Friday it will allow a limited number of fans inside arenas to watch the 2021 Division Men’s Basketball Championship.

Capacity is limited to 25% for all rounds, including the Final Four. The NCAA said it made the decision in connection with state and local health authorities and said 25% capacity will allow social distancing.

Fans attending games are required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing at all times. The NCAA said there is a plan for the venues to be cleaned and disinfected throughout the 67-game tournament.

“This year’s tournament will be like no other, and while we know it won’t be the same for anyone, we are looking forward to providing a memorable experience for the student-athletes, coaches and fans at a once-in-a-lifetime tournament,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “After the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, we are happy to welcome some fans back to all rounds of the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

The NCAA previously announced the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship will be held in Indiana, instead of at sites across the country. The majority of the tournament’s games will take place in Indianapolis.

The NCAA also requires teams to take precautions leading up to the tournament. Those requirements include COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, wearing masks and social distancing. The protocols are required before teams arrive in Indiana and throughout their stay.

“The number one priority for decisions around the tournament continues to be the safety and well-being of everyone participating in the event,” said NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline.

The 2021 Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be hosted by Ball State, Butler, the Horizon League, Indiana, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue, which are lending their facilities and staffs to assist with tournament operations. The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, with multiple courts set up inside the venue.

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