ESPN moves college basketball tourney due to Zika

Sports cable channel ESPN moved a men's college basketball tournament from San Juan to Florida due to concerns over the Zika virus.

The Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off, originally slated for Nov. 17, 18 and 20 at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, has been moved to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando for the same dates.

“We at Meet Puerto Rico are profoundly disappointed with ESPN’s decision to cancel the upcoming event,” said Milton Segarra, president and CEO of the marketing agency for meetings and conventions. “ESPN’s official statement indicates that the cancellation is a result of concerns regarding Zika, and we understand their concerns.”

However, Segarra said that ESPN ignored that Puerto Rico is collaborating with the CDC to combat the virus and prevent it from spreading further.

“The state of Florida also is in the process of dealing with Zika cases,” Segarra said.

Earlier this year, Major League Baseball moved a scheduled two-game series from San Juan to Miami because of concerns about the Zika virus.

Puerto Rico recently hosted several large conferences in San Juan, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses event in late August, which drew more than 34,500 attendees. Through Sept. 30, Meet Puerto Rico hosted 132 groups, totaling 84,900 room nights and 211,000 delegates.

The World Boxing Organization is slated to hold events in Puerto Rico from Oct. 15-22.

“By taking proper precautions as outlined by the CDC, our visitors can have a safe, fun and productive visit to Puerto Rico,” Segarra said.

As of Sept. 21, laboratory-confirmed Zika cases in Puerto Rico totaled 19,395, according to the CDC.


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