The Dome is closed, the Native Youth Olympics are canceled and one of Alaska’s oldest sporting events — Juneau’s Gold Medal Basketball Tournament — has been called off as part of Alaska’s continuing response to the novel coronavirus.
The Dome, the popular air-supported indoor sports facility in Anchorage, announced on its website and Facebook page that it will be closed to the public through March 30.
“Like you, we are saddened that the coronavirus is interfering with so many aspects of our daily lives. But we believe that taking action now to limit the virus’ spread can help get our community back on track as quickly as possible,” said the post.
NYO and the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament are steeped in tradition and both draw a significant numbers of athletes and spectators from rural Alaska.
In a press release issued Friday, the Cook Inlet Tribal Council said it was canceling the Native Youth Olympics because it “meets the prominent risk factors surrounding the potential spread of the virus, including Elders in attendance, a gathering of more than 250 people, and close-contact activities.
“The health and stability of our rural and tribal communities are also at stake, as the statewide Senior Games draw as many as 500 student athletes from more than 100 communities across Alaska, along with coaches, family members, sponsors and volunteers, while attracting as many as 5,000 spectators throughout the event,” the release said.
This year would have been the 50th anniversary of the Native Youth Olympics, a three-day event scheduled for April at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Gold Medal tournament, which dates back to 1947, is one of the biggest annual gatherings in Southeast Alaska. Protecting the region’s elders made the cancellation necessary, according to a KINY radio report.
The Dome, NYO and the Gold Medal tournament join a growing list of facility closures and event cancellations due to concern over the COVID-19 virus.
Alyeska Ski Resort and Hilltop Ski Area were open Saturday, although Alyeska said on its website that it was decreasing capacity on its tram from 60 people to 20.