If you had any plans to attend sporting events involving Utah Valley high school or college teams, your schedule just got freed up.

Given the concerns about the potential risk of spreading COVID-19 in gatherings of large groups, it was basically inevitable that sporting events would be impacted — although up until the last day or so the extent of the impact wasn’t clear.

Now it is obvious the risks are just too great and so BYU, UVU and high school athletic competitions have been canceled.

BYU announced in a press release late Thursday afternoon that all athletic events have been suspended indefinitely.

“We have worked closely with the BYU administration and our affiliated conferences regarding the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe said in the press release. “We realize this is a great disappointment to our student-athletes and coaches who have worked hard to represent themselves, their families and BYU at the highest levels, but fully support the current measures to protect the welfare of the BYU Athletics family and Cougar Nation. Our focus going forward is to help safeguard our student-athletes and assist them in managing this unique challenge in their lives.”

BYU had announced earlier in the day that events would still be held but only essential personnel would be allowed to be in attendance. It’s clear that after further discussion, however, the university decided even that step didn’t go far enough.

The UVU men’s basketball team was in Las Vegas to compete in the WAC tournament but that was canceled on Thursday as well. The WAC announced that all conference competition was suspended until further notice.

UVU stated in a press release that it is suspending all athletic events as well.

“In accordance with the Western Athletic Conference’s decision to cancel the remainder of the Hercules Tires WAC Basketball Tournaments and all WAC sport competitions for the time being, all scheduled Utah Valley University athletics competitions—home or away, conference or non-conference—have been suspended immediately, under further notice,” the UVU press release said. “This includes this weekend’s scheduled home baseball and softball games.

“The decision was made in consultation with the member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and in the interest of the health and safety of our student-athletes, campus personnel, working and event personnel, and all those who attend UVU and WAC events.

“Those who have pre-purchased tickets for scheduled events will be refunded. Fans are encouraged to contact the UVU ticket office — (801) 863-7469 — with any questions.”

The Utah High School Activities Association followed suit with regards to UHSAA spring sports competitions, announcing on Thursday that starting Monday all events will be suspended for two weeks.

“All UHSAA spring activities beginning Monday, March 16, for a period of at least two weeks,” the UHSAA press release said. “Member schools and/or districts as a local decision may suspend spring activities immediately. Those member schools and/or districts will need to work with the UHSAA on suspensions. All out of state school related travel has been suspended immediately for a period of at least two weeks.

“In consultation with board directives and information provided by state public health officials, the UHSAA has suspended spring activities to properly fulfill best practices regarding protection of students and the general public. More information will be sent to member schools and/or districts as it becomes available.”

Spring sports in Utah can be unpredictable because of weather cancellations, so it might be possible for the high school teams to adjust their seasons when the suspension period is over.

At this point, however, everyone is focused on limiting large gatherings and it’s unclear how long that emphasis will remain as the top priority.

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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