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Competing Safely at the Orange County Convention Center: Amateur Athletic Union Junior National Volleyball Championships

Presented with a new reality, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) developed a plan to enhance the entire attendee experience with safety in mind. Focused on creating a controlled environment, the OCCC implemented its Recovery and Resiliency Guidelines in July, by successfully hosting the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Returning to the OCCC for 19 years, this renowned tournament has developed a rhythm for success at The Center of Hospitality. No stranger to crowds, the OCCC typically hosts more than 100,000 participants, chaperones and coaches as they gather to compete annually at this event. With the current climate posing new challenges, planners and organizers revised the traditional experience, introducing new operational polices.


Preparations for the event began long before participants arrived at the OCCC. Following an enhanced communications strategy, OCCC and AAU show organizers openly communicated new plans, policies and procedures to help guide and educate attendees ahead of time.


Teams funneled through the OCCC via one-way entry and exit points. Utilized to manage attendee flow, avoid congestion and administer screening in the form of temperature checks and health surveys, these access points were an important element in creating a safe and controlled event experience.

Arriving in waves, the OCCC granted entry to a limited number of participants at any one time. With pre-determined arrival times, participants entered the facility as a team, avoiding potential crowding and physical distancing issues.

Arriving in waves, teams entered the OCCC via a one-way entry point following a successful health screening process during the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships.

Competing Safely

With a total of one million square feet at its disposal, the tournament had plenty of room for physical distancing. New additions this year included reduced teams and courts, increased distancing between sets, and decreased capacity with a no spectator rule. Additionally, AAU limited the number of ancillary events and cancelled its traditional opening ceremony to avoid congregation points and crowding.

Following a countywide mask mandate, all participants, coaches and employees were required to wear a face covering while inside the OCCC, with the exception being that players could remove their masks on the court while competing.

66 physically distanced Volleyball Courts staged at this year’s event, compared to 130 in previous years.


As a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accredited venue, the OCCC implemented a series of rigorous sanitation protocols throughout the duration of the event. Following a comprehensive sanitation schedule, staff thoroughly disinfected the venue each evening, and introduced numerous enhanced cleaning measures between each set, including the sanitation of balls, mats and scoreboards.

Sanitation stations placed throughout the campus to encourage regular hand sanitizing.


With no illnesses or cases reported following the event, the measures taken by the OCCC and AAU are a proven success and testament to hosting live events under our new normal. Offering a blueprint to navigating live events, the OCCC is leading the way by displaying the necessary tools, strategies and methods to allow us to meet safely today for a stronger tomorrow.





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