The 4 major American pro sports leagues now in season - NBA, MLB, MLS, and NHL - have all chose to temporarily ban the media from locker-room and clubhouse access due to Coronavirus.
"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 said.
Nippon Professional Baseball, the top league in Japan, on Monday postponed the opening of its season, which was scheduled for March 20.
Media access to players will still be available from designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting, the leagues announced. These changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow's games and practices.
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Media access may not be the last restriction put in place as leagues, teams, and schools attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, which has resulted in 423 confirmed cases (including 26 deaths) in the United States as of 4 p.m. ET on Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our goal is to provide fans with stories about their favorite players and teams, and clubhouse access is essential for our jobs, just as maintaining fan interest is essential to baseball's business. The league discouraged players from signing autographs for the remainder of spring training and suggested they pre-sign items and throw them to fans at games.
The NBA told teams that these actions were among recommendations of infectious disease and public health experts, sources said.
"We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary".
The North American sports landscape has undergone rapid change regarding media access as the coronavirus spreads throughout the continent. Media access to players will be limited to designated areas outside of the locker room with a specific directive from the National Basketball Association to keep players six to eight feet away from reporters, sources told ESPN.