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Tournament of Champions expects to see record breaking crowd; safety protocols in place for COVID-19

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 8:53 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Tournament of Champions tips off on Thursday in Springfield at the JQH Arena.

Springfield Public Schools Athletic Director Joshua Scott says he is expecting a record-breaking crowd this year. The tournament comes as there are some concerns with COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Greene County. Scott says with that comes added precautions to keep fans and players safe.

”The HEPA 13 filters they put in March of 2020 which will run throughout the entire event,” Scott says. “The high touch areas will be cleaned and sanitized more often than normal throughout the weekend. There’s hand sanitizing pumps all throughout JQH Arena.”

Scott says protocols have been put into place to keep everyone safe, which included planning ahead of time and reaching out to teams that are flying in from other states.

“We tried real hard to work with the states that are coming with their COVID protocols and what they’re following as school districts and as states,” Scott says. “We’re also providing all of the teams coming in a tournament of champions mask with their school logo.”

Masks are not required at the tournament but highly encouraged. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s assistant director of health Jon Mooney is urging people to stay home if they’re feeling sick and take precautions to stay safe.

“The virus needs fuel and the fuel that it needs is people in close proximity for an extended duration so I think any activity that does that is gonna increase that opportunity for the virus to spread,” Mooney says.

Springfield Catholic is one of the teams competing in the tournament.

Athletic director Dan Evans says he doesn’t have safety concerns for the upcoming tournament and hasn’t heard concerns from any parents or players.

“If we weren’t playing there, we’d be playing somewhere else so it’s not like it’s games we wouldn’t be playing,” Evans says. “It’s maybe just in a little bit bigger of a venue.”

Evans says playing in this tournament will give students something they’ve been missing since the start of the pandemic.

“The one thing kids want to have happen is get back to being normal,” Evans says. “I think our kids have missed out on so many things that teenagers have taken for granted over the years. We’ve missed out on dances. We’ve missed out on all kinds of things.”

The Ozarks Sports Zone will have coverage throughout the Tournament of Champions. You can find game highlights and scores at ozarkssportszone.com.

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