By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
The NHL has become the first of the four major pro sports leagues in the United States to enact a policy regarding spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
It was announced Saturday that the league will be halting media access to team dressing rooms for the foreseeable future. The decision was made following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Media will still be able to speak with players in “formal press conference areas.” The policy is expected to go into effect immediately.
According to CBC hockey reporter Elliott Friedman, the NBA, MLB, and MLS are expected to follow suit. This follows a report Friday that the NBA has told teams to prepare for a scenario that would see them playing games in empty arenas.
The Coronavirus has already caused a number of disruptions across other leagues and levels of sport. Saturday morning, the IIHF announced it was canceling Women’s Hockey World Championships scheduled to take place at the end of March in Nova Scotia. Early rounds of the Division-III men’s basketball tournament are currently being played in empty gyms.
The effects are being felt globally as well. In Italy there will be no fans present at any public sporting events for the next month, the government announced earlier this week.
That’s a measure that has been discussed in the United States as well. NHL executives were reportedly “starting to explore contingency plans” at least week’s general manager meetings, including empty stadiums and even canceling games.
Expect there to be a close eye on how the NHL and NBA handle the Coronavirus in the coming weeks. With the NCAA March Madness tournament and Tokyo’s Summer Olympics on the horizon, organizers of those events could look to national leagues for strategies to make environments safer for players and fans, or how to handle mass cancelations.