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As ‘Bows approach another home game, governor defends decision to ban spectators

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 3:13 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In advance of this season, the University of Hawaii fast-tracked renovations of the Ching Athletics complex to accommodated 9,000 fans.

But so far, the program is the only division one football program in the country playing home games in a vacant venue.

As the Bows approach Saturday’s home game against San Jose State, Gov. David Ige upheld the decision to prohibit in-person spectators.

Parents of players are pleading with the state to open up the stands to limited groups.

“It’s frustrating not only for me, but for other parents, who have kids playing,” said John Panoke. His son, Jonah, is UH receiver.

“We understand the governor’s concerns about COVID and social distancing and we are willing to follow all safety protocols and procedures just to let the family members of the student-athletes, just so we can watch.”

There are only five Rainbow Warrior home games left this season. And as the campaign rolls on, that could mean players families go two straight years without seeing them play in person.

Under Oahu and state orders, UH spectator sports exceed gathering limits.

But parents contend fans can attend safely and within the rules.

“You know even 50 people per section and fully vaccinated people, wearing masks, socially distancing, I just don’t think that’s unreasonable to ask,” said Beth Adams, mother of UH offensive lineman Nate Adams.

In a statement submitted to Hawaii News Now, Ige said the spectator ban is tough but necessary:

“Our hospital ICU units are at or near maximum capacity. Any significant increase in ICU patients could put our healthcare system over the threshold. I am also an avid Warrior fan, and I hope that we will be in a better place before the end of the football season. However, at this point, this type of activity is simply not safe.”

Adding to the frustration for Rainbow Warriors parents is seeing packed games in stadiums across the country. Players, meanwhile, say any support would go a long way.

“Even when we first come out right behind me and we come out through the little tunnel and like to see people there and hear noise and a crowd and energy, it would just it would change how things are,” said Rainbow Warriors receiver Nick Mardner.

“I mean sometimes it does feel like when were playing here with no fans, it just feels like a scrimmage or like nothing really too crazy.”

UH hosts the Spartans on Saturday night in Manoa.

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