The Ohio High School Athletic Association has postponed all winter tournaments indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak, including events taking place at St. John Arena and the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
The announcement came the day after the NBA suspended its season, and hours after the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in Indianapolis was canceled. Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA’s executive director, said in a press conference Thursday that the games might not be able to be rescheduled.
“We have to look at the safety aspect that these mass gatherings create,” Snodgrass said. “We have a commitment to serve our kids and our schools first.”
St. John Arena was scheduled to host the high school girls’ basketball state championship tournament Thursday through Saturday, and the Schottenstein Center was scheduled to host the individual state wrestling tournament Friday through Sunday. The Schottenstein Center was also scheduled to host the high school boys’ basketball state championship tournament March 19-21. Nationwide Arena was scheduled to host the ice hockey tournament Saturday and Sunday.
OHSAA’s decision comes one day after Gov. Mike Dewine announced an upcoming order banning mass gatherings in Ohio.
“We shouldn’t panic, but we should take rational actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and others,” DeWine said in a press conference Wednesday. “What we are seeing with this virus is predictable, and we have the ability to control risk. Every expert has told us that there is a risk in any kind of mass gathering, so you must ask yourself if going to a large event is worth the risk.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association voided and refunded all previously purchased tickets for boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling and ice hockey state tournaments on Tuesday night according to their website. Snodgrass said there will be a refund policy for those who purchased tickets today.
The virus, officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, spreads from person-to-person according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 spreads through mucus and saliva. It easily spreads in the community when people are within six feet of each other.
At the time of publication, there are 127,863 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, 4,718 deaths and 68,310 recoveries according to Johns Hopkins University.
The United States has 1,323 confirmed cases, 38 deaths and eight recoveries according to Johns Hopkins University. There are five confirmed cases in Ohio, three in Cuyahoga County, a county in Northeast Ohio where Cleveland is located, one in Stark County and one in Trumbull County. Stark and Trumbull Counties are both also located in Northeast Ohio.