Out of an abundance of caution, the 2020 Lanierland Tournament will be held with no spectators, according to a release from the tournament committee on Tuesday.
Originally, the committee had decided to play the tournament at the higher-seed team's location until the finals with limited attendance, which were scheduled to be played at Gainesville.
But on Monday, leadership from the three school systems involved, Gainesville, Hall County and Lakeview Academy, made the decision to play all rounds of the tournament at Gainesville High School without fans.
Leadership from all three systems met this morning to discuss hosting the Lanierland Basketball Tournament under the challenging circumstances created by COVID-19," the statement said. "With the number of positive cases in the community on the rise, and with so many schools facing the challenge of maintaining in-person instruction, the agreement was reached that the tournament should proceed but with no spectators in attendance.
Gainesville Athletic Director Adam Lindsey said the number one goal was to keep the athletes and community safe.
"At GHS, we are disappointed to not have our community in attendance at these games but at the same time, we are excited for all of the athletes that get to play in the Lanierland games despite the difficult circumstances," he said. "Gainesville is honored to host this event for all of the participants in a way that takes every measure to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy."
In the joint statement, the tournament committee expressed its disappointment.
"Without question, this will be a disappointment for many, as the Lanierland Tournament is a long-held event that for years has brought our community together. However, leadership from Gainesville, Hall, and Lakeview Academy, feel an obligation to protect the health and safety of the collective community."
With all games held in one location, it will allow the tournament to be live-streamed. Jacobs Media will broadcast all first-round games on Monday, Dec. 28, the semifinals on Tuesday, Dec. 29 and the finals on Dec. 30. The new schedule will be released soon, according to the committee.
"Additionally, holding the tournament in one location gives local radio the ability to broadcast all games; thus, reaching a wider audience and allowing community members to enjoy the tournament in the safety of their homes."
The committee also said there will be safety measures and protocols in play for all athletes.
"Gainesville City Schools, Lakeview Academy, and the Hall County School District appreciate the patience and understanding of all stakeholders during this difficult time. We are all excited to be able to host this annual community event in a safe manner under these challenging circumstances, and we wish all participants the best of luck!"