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DALLAS - APRIL 08: An NHL logo on a goal at American Airlines Center on April 8, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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.

DALLAS, TX – OCTOBER 06: James Neal #18 of the Vegas Golden Knights talks with reporters in the locker room after scoring the first two goals in team history to beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 at American Airlines Center on October 6, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – MARCH 06: With no spectators, First Round at Goldfarb Gymnasium on at Johns Hopkins University on March 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had confirmed three cases of residents with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, prompting Johns Hopkins officials to host the NCAA men’s basketball tournament without spectators. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.