March 12, 2020 / 8:57 PM / 25 days ago

NCAA cancels 'March Madness' tournaments over coronavirus

Mar 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; View of Bridgestone Arena following the announcement of the cancellation of the SEC Conference Tournament before play was set to begin on day two. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NCAA has canceled its ‘March Madness’ Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, citing concern over the coronavirus pandemic which has hit sporting events across the world.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events,” the National Collegiate Athletic Association said in a written statement.

The NCAA said it would also cancel all remaining winter and spring championships.

March Madness, which attracts millions of viewers and advertising dollars, is among the most popular annual sporting events in North America, bringing together 68 men’s and 64 women’s teams in venues across the U.S.

The cancellation came amid media reports that two powerhouse programs - Duke University and Kansas University - would not participate in the tournament.

Broadcasters Turner Sports and CBS Sports said they were “fully supportive of the NCAA’s decision” and would work closely with the athletics organization “as we prioritize the health and well-being of everyone involved.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris

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