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Ohio high school state wrestling tournament to go on this weekend, likely with limited fans

The OHSAA State Wrestling Championships are held at the Schottenstein Center (Photo/Craig Brown)

Hours after the governor of Ohio recommended that indoor sporting events within the state take place without fans in the stands because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced that attendance at its state tournaments -- including the 2020 OHSAA State Wrestling Championships -- will most likely be limited to immediate family members of the athletes competing at those events.

This year's Ohio state mat championships are scheduled to take place this weekend -- Friday, March 13-Sunday, March 15 -- at Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus.

The OHSAA -- which governs scholastic sports within the state of Ohio -- issued the following statement Wednesday, not long after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine spoke Tuesday afternoon, urging that indoor sporting events in Ohio take place without fans in the stands because of the appearance of at least three cases of coronavirus within Cuyahoga County (home to Cleveland) in recent days.

"At this time, the OHSAA is proceeding with our upcoming tournaments as scheduled," the high school sports organization stated within hours of Gov. DeWine's press conference. "We are in constant communication with state and local officials and will monitor any developments and provide updated information as needed. We encourage teams and fans to take the extra precautions that we provided to our member schools in early March and that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our tournament venues are taking extra measures to assist with the safety of the student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans."

In addition to the state wrestling championships, other major high school sporting events scheduled to take place this week -- possibly without fans in the stands -- include the girls state basketball championships at Ohio State's St. John Arena, beginning Thursday, and the state hockey champions on Saturday and Sunday at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.

DeWine said it is not only the safety of the spectators but for anyone the spectators might come in contact with afterwards.

"We would hope that anyone who has the responsibility for conducting these events will make the right decision," DeWine said.

The governor also recommended that other indoor events with large numbers of individuals in attendance -- including concerts and classroom instruction -- consider other plans. At least two state universities -- Ohio State and Kent State University -- have announced suspension of in-person classes on their respective campuses.

Information regarding tickets already sold and what type of media coverage will be permitted is still to be released "as soon as possible" according to the OHSAA.

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