Fans of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors won't be able to attend their school's season-opening events, including the game against Portland State on Sept. 4, due to COVID-19 concerns. The instructions from city and county officials are a result of the recent rise in cases and overwhelmed hospital capacities on the islands.
The opener will be played at the retrofitted 9,000-seat Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, which the Rainbow Warriors will call home for the 2021 season as construction continues on the Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.
"We are disappointed because we were looking forward to playing in front of our fans again," Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said. "However we understand the decision was made in the best interest of public safety and can only hope the restrictions will be lifted when the time is right."
The school says that the decision will be re-evaluated in the "coming weeks."
With the college football season beginning next week, schools across the country have been preparing for full stadiums this fall. However, like many states, Hawaii has seen a big surge in new cases. It reported just 44 new cases on July 1, but the recent outbreak led to a reported 845 on Aug. 20 -- by far its largest case number since the pandemic began. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that 11 new hospitalizations and four deaths were reported on Friday.
Hawaii opens the season in Week Zero at UCLA. After the Portland State game, it won't return home until Sept. 19 vs. San Jose State. The Rainbow Warriors are coming off of a 5-4 season that included a New Mexico Bowl win over Houston in coach Todd Graham's first season at the helm.