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AU to require spectators at Bender Arena to show proof of vaccination

Starting next week, unvaccinated guests must show recent negative COVID test to enter

Fans and rivals of the American University Eagles must be vaccinated to attend sports games at Bender Arena, AU Athletics said on Oct. 12.

The new vaccine requirement is scheduled to take effect on Oct. 21. 

According to a press release, attendees of men’s basketball, women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling matches over the age of 12 must show proof of vaccination in the form of a vaccine card or a digital copy to enter the arena. The press release also stated that spectators are still required to wear masks.

The University’s current guidelines for the fall semester require vaccination against the coronavirus as well as indoor mask-wearing for all students. Outside attendees were previously only subject to the mask mandate.

Associate Director of Athletics for External Relations David Bierwirth said that the decision was made by the administration and had been under consideration for about a month.

“We felt it was the best way to be in alignment with being a vaccinated community,” Bierwirth said. “It added safety and health protection for our teams and all those who are visiting campus.” 

Bierwirth also said that the decision was not based on any COVID-19 cases linked to the attending games, and said “that was not a concern.”

Unvaccinated spectators can still attend games after taking a COVID-19 test and testing negative 72 hours before game time, the announcement said.

Bierwirth said that exemption was created to be “inclusive” and ensure as many fans could attend the games as possible. Bierwirth also said that requiring a negative COVID-19 was to ensure that games at Bender were as safe as possible.

“The intent is to be as inclusive to everyone that wants to attend the game while having the max possibility for safety precautions by passing that test,” Bierwirth said. 

The AU women’s volleyball team played Lehigh on Oct. 16 at Bender Arena after the vaccine requirement was announced, but before the new rule was implemented.

Bender Arena has many more games to host in the coming months. The women’s volleyball team has already played six games there this season, and the Eagles will play seven of its last ten regular-season games at home. The men’s and women’s basketball seasons will also begin on Nov. 9, and the men’s team will play 12 home games while the women’s team plays 13 games at Bender Arena.

The first game to fall under the new Bender Arena rules will be Oct. 23 when the Eagles battle Loyola of Maryland in a women's volleyball Patriot League rematch. 

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