NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS Issue Statement, Limit Locker Room Access Amid Coronavirus

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IMarch 9, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 11: A detail view of official Spalding NBA logo basketball on the floor during a preseason game between the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on October 11, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers defeated the Bulls 105-87. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League issued a joint statement Monday afternoon announcing all four leagues are limiting access to clubhouses and locker rooms as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. 

The full statement can be read below: 

"After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. 

"These temporary changes will be effective beginning with [Tuesday's] games and practices. We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment."

This development in American sports was preceded by Japan's top baseball league and Italy's top soccer league suspending play earlier Monday:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan's top league, has postponed the beginning of its season after its commissioner said the spread of coronavirus made the delay "unavoidable," @JballAllen reports. Opening day was set for March 20 -- six days before MLB's season is due to begin.

B/R Football @brfootball

OFFICIAL: Serie A has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak https://t.co/h3NiwdmqQG

The NBA sent teams a memo Friday asking them to "prepare to play games without fans if necessary." Three-time NBA champion LeBron James was not fond of the idea:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

“We play games without the fans? Nah, that’s impossible. I ain’t playing, if I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for. —LeBron James on the possibility of playing games without fans in attendance due to concerns from the Coronavirus https://t.co/E3Yb41YfCK

The NBA also sent out a memo to teams earlier this month encouraging players to fist-bump fans rather than high-five and "avoid taking items such as pens, balls and jerseys to autograph," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported. 

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States rose to 650 on Monday with 26 deaths, per NBC News. CNN relayed there are more than 108,000 people infected and 3,800 deaths worldwide.


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