On Sunday, I wrote that the NBA has issued notices to all teams to make preparations on COVID-19, or coronavirus. On Monday evening, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS will prohibit reporters from going into the locker rooms indefinitely, including pregame and postgame periods. The only people allowed inside would be players, coaches and other essential team personnel.
Enclosed is the official joint statement from the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS on their new locker room access restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis ... pic.twitter.com/KkATJVI6rH— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 9, 2020
These restrictions will be in place tonight when the Washington Wizards host the New York Knicks.
How has coronavirus affected sports outside of the USA?
It is a fact that most of the deaths from COVID-19 involve older people. But anyone can get it, including athletes. Therefore, many leagues have suspended play or will continue playing games in front of empty stands.
In China, the CBA has suspended play indefinitely as well as the WCBA where there were several WNBA players. Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud played in the WCBA as well, but left her team before the initial outbreak happened in Wuhan.
Korea has the most cases of coronavirus outside of China. There, the Korean Basketball League suspended play indefinitely on Feb. 29. The WKBL, the same league that Mystics forward Myisha Hines-Allen and signee Lee Seul Kang play in, decided to suspend play for the next two weeks.
In Italy, the entire country is under lockdown until at least April 3, unprecedented for a democracy. Because of that, the Serie A soccer league is suspended. Some Italian soccer teams are still in continental play like the UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, however. But those still are “a go,” though likely behind empty stadiums.
Other European countries’ domestic soccer leagues have taken the step to play in front of empty stadiums in the short run, like Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1 and Spain’s La Liga.
To this point, we haven’t seen NBA players or coaches get COVID-19, though Stephen Curry had a recent scare. Other countries haven’t been so lucky.
According to Mike Verweij of De Telegraaf in Amsterdam, Netherlands (link in Dutch), three Ajax assistants, including assistant coach Christian Poulsen are in self-quarantine after going to a birthday part last weekend. One person at that party later tested positive for the virus.
Amsterdam is also apparently the city where retired Danish soccer Thomas Kahlenberg contracted the virus last week. Kahlenberg attended a game at Brøndby Stadium near Copenhagen where 13 people had to be placed under quarantine.
I’m certainly concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, I’m hopeful that we won’t see NBA games played in front of empty seats — or that play is suspended altogether.