LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Amid growing concern about the coronavirus, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League will be limiting access to team locker rooms, the leagues announced Monday.
“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,” according to a joint statement issued by the four major sports leagues.
“Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting,” according to the leagues. “These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s (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.”
On Friday, the NBA reportedly sent a memo to its franchises indicating that they should prepare for the possibility of playing games without fans.
Earlier that week, a separate memo was issued to teams with suggestions for avoiding the virus, according to ESPN reporters Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. Among those steps, the league suggested players fist-bump instead of high-five and avoid taking items from fans to autograph.
Though the NBA has called for teams to be prepared in the event fans are not allowed to attend, Lakers star LeBron James said that was not happening.
“I ain’t playing,” he said after the Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. “If I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s what I play for. I play for my teammates, I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena, and there ain’t no fans in there? I ain’t playing. So, they could do what they want to do.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)