Fears over the coronavirus have trickled its way into the sports world.
On Monday, the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS announced in a joint statement that they would be closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel.
“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,” the statement read. “Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’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.”
The leagues’ joint decision comes after the BNP Paribas Open — a professional tennis tournament set to feature Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer — was cancelled earlier in the day on Monday, marking the first sporting event to be cancelled over coronavirus fears.
Future precautions, such as cancellations, could still potentially occur in the major sports, as well as the NCAA Tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.
The Pro Basketball Writers Association responded to the leagues’ announcement by showing support for the precautionary measure.
“We understand the NBA’s decision to temporarily close locker rooms to everyone but players and essential team personnel with the NBA’s promise that once the coronavirus crisis abates, the league will restore full access to the journalists who cover the league,” the statement read, per The Associated Press.
Prior to the decision to limit locker room access, MLB and NBA had told players to limit interactions with fans, including using their own pens for autographs and fistbump instead of high-five or shake hands.
The coronavirus has infected more than 113,000 people worldwide, and more than 600 people in the United States, with at least 26 confirmed deaths as of Monday evening, according to The Associated Press.