WIAA cancels basketball tournaments as coronavirus cases increase

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - The WIAA high school basketball tournaments are canceled, the association announced late Thursday night, on a day that saw major sporting leagues cancel or postpone seasons and tourist destinations close global attractions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The WIAA Board of Control and executive staff met Thursday at the end of the first day of the girls' tournament.

The decision includes the remaining boys' basketball sectional finals.

"The WIAA regrets the lost opportunity for teams and players that have worked to achieve their goals and the communities that have supported them throughout the year," the association wrote in a news release.

Eight teams got to play in the girls' semifinals Thursday at the Resch Center. Twelve teams were scheduled to play Friday.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association already restricted attendance at the games. There were no cheerleaders or pep bands, and each team was allowed 88 guests -- about 4 family members or friends for each player. The Resch Center can seat about 10,000 people.

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Earlier in the day, the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said it wouldn't host the WIAA boys' tournament scheduled to start next Wednesday, leaving the boys' tournament in limbo.

"This pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances that make these decisions and actions prudent and necessary," said in a prescient statement on Wednesday.

Executive Director Dave Anderson wrote in Thursday night's announcement, "I want the student-athletes and their coaches to know that your school leaders, the WIAA Executive Staff, all our committees and the Board of Control have done everything imaginable to try to provide and preserve these opportunities for you... However, we want and need to be responsible in helping the global and state efforts to stem the tide and spread of this virus."

The WIAA says tickets for the boys and girls state basketball tournaments will be refunded in full, except the tickets given to immediate family members.

Tickets sold through the WIAA will be automatically refunded within two weeks. Tickets purchased through a school will be refunded by the school -- not by the WIAA or the Resch Center.

As of this publication, Wisconsin has seven active confirmed cases of coronavirus. An eighth person has fully recovered. Wis. Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends the cancellation of all events of 250 people and more.

Dr. Ashok Rai, Prevea Health President/CEO.

Prevea Health President/CEO Dr. Ashok Rai says cancellation of events is a good idea to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"Canceling events is not mass hysteria. Mass hysteria is when a health system is completely overrun and 20 people need a ventilator and we have one ventilator left and we have to make a decision on which person is going to survive and which person isn't. That's the situation we're trying to prevent right now," says Dr. Rai.

CLICK HERE for our full interviews with Dr. Rai.