The 47th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships are happening right now at the Orange County Convention Center in Florida despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 320 boys and girls volleyball teams have traveled to compete in the tournament - a significantly smaller amount compared to the 2,800+ teams in 2019. Spectators are not allowed.
Since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis lifted restrictions on youth sports weeks ago, several baseball, basketball, softball and golf tournaments have been held in the state. Although none have compared in scale to the AAU Volleyball Nationals, with attendees projected to be 17,000+ by the time the week is over.
Extensive Safety Measures In Place For Coronavirus
AAU has implemented strict protocols in conjunction with Orlando Health, Orange County Convention Center and local authorities to make this event possible during COVID-19:
- Only volleyball players, coaches, team chaperones, officials and event staff are allowed inside
- Courts are no longer placed side-by-side and there are only 66 courts (compared to 130 in the previous year) spread out across the one million square foot facility
- Daily temperature checks before entering the convention center
- Daily health screenings and questionnaires for all teams
- More frequent pool waves will keep a small portion of teams inside at one time
- Face masks are required at all times except for when warming-up or playing on the court
Dr. Roger J. Goudy, President and CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union, said in a statement to News 6:
“...Our goal is to host the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships with all necessary containment and mitigation measures in place. We have worked closely with the Convention Center and Orange County on its timely sanitation GBAC STAR accreditation, healthcare collaboration with Orlando Health and physical distancing and CDC protocols to ensure a clean, safe and healthy environment for players, coaches and chaperones. We care deeply about our AAU family and will always do what is in the best interest of our players, their families and our extended athletic community as we operate safely under our new normal.”
Mixed Opinions Within The Volleyball Community
Unsurprisingly, AAU’s decision to go through with the Junior National Championships during a pandemic has been met with conflicting views. While some clubs and families were eager for volleyball action to resume, many have condemned the organization as the re-opening of sports businesses in Florida coincides with the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
Pool play for the 18U, 16U and 15U age divisions started today, with bracket finals and championships scheduled for the weekend. The 12U, 13U & 14U age divisions will play Sunday through Wednesday, July 22. The 9-day volleyball tournament concludes with the Boys competition Sunday through Tuesday, July 21.
You can read more details regarding the 47th AAU Volleyball Junior National Championships on their official website #AAUVBNATLs