LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) — The echoes of hockey and hoops — hissing skates, squeaking sneakers, speeding pucks blasting against the boards — will reverberate longer and more freely at Colorado sporting venues. Starting this weekend, the sounds of the games won’t compete with the noise of the crowd.

Wednesday evening, the Colorado High School Activities Association described a change of heart happening over the last 24 hours as the official count of infections grew and confidence in the safety of the participants waned.

“Logistically,” CHSAA stated in a press release, “and with the state tournaments set to begin in less than 13 hours, this goal of social spacing is beyond the scope of our host facilities.”

Games in all classifications will be televised and livestreamed.

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“We knew that this was an evolving situation,” said CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green, “and our goal was to have a tournament that goes on without interruption. But circumstances have changed with this pandemic, and the focus must now be on how we give the kids the experience of a state champ event.”

A refund policy for tickets will be addressed Thursday.

In keeping with an edict handed down Wednesday by the NCAA, the University of Denver announced the NCAA West Regional on March 27-28 will not be played in front of fans.

The decisions come as many of the nation’s institutions — businesses, schools, hospitals, airports, churches, and entertainment venues among them — concede much of their enterprise to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Large groups or gatherings, public or private, are discouraged by health officials. Travel is frowned upon.

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The NCAA stated Wednesday it will conduct the men’s and woman’s Division I basketball tournaments sans fans.

“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports,” NCAA President Mark Emmert stated in a press release, “my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes.”

2020 was to be the first year in which an NCAA hockey tournament event has been held in the state of Colorado since the 2008 Men’s Frozen Four at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

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The team does get the same chance to host in 2021 at the same venue.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s quarterfinal matches this weekend will also be free of fans, the Colorado Springs-headquartered league announced Wednesday. The games will be livestreamed for free.

The same rules apply to the NCAA Gymnastics Regional scheduled for April 2-4 at DU’s Magness Arena.

The Colorado School of Mines also announced its plan Wednesday to play future athletics contests with only essential personnel until further notice.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

Additional Information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

  • Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer; use your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. The illness can last for many days so make preparations now to work from home if possible.
  • We advise Coloradans to always be prepared for an emergency– like a large snowstorm– and have a plan for your family. Make sure to have 72 hours of key supplies on hand like medications, infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc. FEMA guidance for pre-pandemic COVID-19 preparedness is available on Ready.gov.
  • Stay informed with reliable, up-to-date information. People who have general questions about coronavirus disease 2019, can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more.

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