NCAA forms coronavirus panel, says championships to move forward 'as planned'

(Reuters) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said on Tuesday that it had established an advisory panel of “leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts” in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement came a little more than two weeks ahead of the NCAA Division I basketball tournament, known as “March Madness”, a wildly popular collegiate championship that draws huge interest from sponsors, students and fans.

Donald Remy, the NCAA chief operating officer, said in a written statement that the organisation was “planning to conduct our championships as planned,” but would continue to monitor news about the coronavirus.

“The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” said Remy, adding that the group would “make decisions that are first and foremost reflective of medical best practices.”

The panel is led by the NCAA’s chief medical officer, Brian Hainline.

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted the cancellation or postponement of numerous major international sporting events and raised concerns about the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis