From postponing the Brewers' opening day to suspending the Bucks stellar season, the spread of coronavirus is having a major impact on sports in Wisconsin.
Thursday, the NCAA canceled the men's and women's basketball tournaments, commonly known as March Madness. The decision came one day after the NCAA announced games that were scheduled to start next week would be played in mostly empty arenas.
The NCAA also canceled all of its championships in every winter and spring sport, including hockey, baseball, lacrosse and several others.
Big Ten cancels all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year and announces a moratorium on all on- and off-campus recruiting activities for the foreseeable future. https://t.co/bBVXWLqzvg
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) March 12, 2020
Baseball is also being affected. On Thursday, Major League Baseball canceled the rest of spring training and delayed the start of the regular season by at least two weeks.
The Milwaukee Brewers released this statement: “The health and safety of our fans, players, employees and game day staff is our top priority. We fully support the measures taken today by Major League Baseball. We will have more information at a future date for our fans who have tickets to Spring Training or regular season games.”
The Brewers were supposed to open their season against the Chicago Cubs on March 26.
After a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA announced Wednesday night that it has suspended its season. On Thursday, a second player also tested positive for the disease.
The Milwaukee Bucks released this statement from Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin: "Due to the NBA’s suspension of games until further notice, tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics has been postponed. Decisions about the status of remaining 2020 regular season is currently being determined. Tickets held for tonight’s (Thursday's) game and any future postponed game will be valid for the rescheduled date. We thank our fans for their patience during this time and will continue to closely consult with the NBA, and city and state health officials to provide you with updates.”
Basketball becomes secondary... Take care of yourselves and your family. Wash your hands often.
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) March 12, 2020
Prior to the season's suspension, the Milwaukee Bucks were in first place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 53 wins, 12 losses; and had already clinched a playoff spot.
On Thursday, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman released this statement:
"In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019-20 season beginning with tonight's games.
"The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus -- and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point -- it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."
The Americam Hockey League is also suspending games until further notice.
Milwaukee Admirals Owner/CEO Harris Turer said: “The health and well-being of our fans, players are and employees is, and has always been, our number one concern. While we are disappointed that our games this weekend and in the near future will not be played, we know this is the right decision and when the time is right we look forward to getting back on the ice to pursue the Calder Cup.”
On Thursday, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association moved to limit attendance at winter tournaments because of the virus, most notably the girls' basketball tournament underway at Resch Center near Green Bay and the boys' tournament at the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus March 19-21.
“As good and responsible citizens, we are adhering to policies consistent to preventing the spread of COVID-19,” WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said.