ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Around 12,000 athletes are expected to make their way to Orange County as the Amateur Athletic Union 2020 Junior National Volleyball Championship gets underway Tuesday at the Orange County Convention Center.
“We are really excited to have events in our facility and we are so appreciative of AAU Volleyball and all that they are going to be bringing to our community,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “The industry is starting to come back and there is pent up demand.”
News 6 went inside the Convention Center area where the athletes are set to compete in matches beginning on Wednesday. This year's championships will only include 66 courts, compared to 130 a year ago, in an effort to social distance.
Several safety protocols could be easily seen, including health screenings, temperature checks, a mask requirement, and no spectators.
“They will be in waves,” Tester said. “Teams will be coming in and out throughout the day. While there might be 11,000 or 12,000 total athletes in town, none of them will be in the facility at the same time.”
Convention center officials said they are ready to host the thousands after being one of only two convention centers in the nation to receive Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR accreditation, recognized for its global standard in cleaning and disinfecting.
“There was 20 different areas that we had to show that we had understood and accomplished and we got to them, so we were very happy with that,” Tester said.
In a statement to News 6, Dr. Roger J. Goudy, President/CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union said:
“Since 1888, the AAU has prided itself on providing quality event participation opportunities to millions of athletes in a safe environment. 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.”
The tournament comes after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent the weekend determining whether the Orange County Convention Center will be the site of an alternative medical treatment facility for coronavirus patients, according to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Demings said the team used two days at the convention center to analyze space, where 500 beds could be set up to help hospitals if they start exceeding capacity.
“If we continue to see the numbers go up, I don’t want to get to the point where we approach capacity within our hospitals. That would be catastrophic for us as a community,” he said.
To learn more about the tournament, which runs through July 22, and to watch live matches streamed online, click here.