The Charlotte 49ers have been closing the doors to fans at home sporting events for about three weeks, due to the spike in COVID-19 infection rates attributed to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
The 49ers are North Carolina’s premier athletic department and are said to be the first college track program in the country to announce such a move, although dozens of college and pro basketball and hockey games are postponed daily in reason for the increase.
Provincial governments in Canada also have a limited turnout, at 1,000 fans in most cases, and the NHL has responded by postponing a number of games until those restrictions can be lifted.
The 49ers said on Friday that participation will be limited to home sporting events until January 24. Only a small number of family members of participants will be allowed to attend.
The number of COVID cases has reached record highs across the United States, forcing a number of entertainment events – such as Broadway plays – to close.
Among the latest postponements announced was the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which was due to take place in early February in New York City.
College sports teams across the country played in front of empty or nearly empty stadiums and arenas in fall 2020 and winter 2020-21. Most schools have allowed full attendance from September as many spectators have been vaccinated.
But the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant has made a difference.
Charlotte University officials say fans who purchased tickets to the games before January 24 will be offered a refund. The box office will contact ticket holders next week, they said.
Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle
This story was originally published December 31, 2021 3:26 pm.