Over the past week, professional sports leagues and organizations all over the world have postponed or relocated games. They’re even outright canceling tournaments amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Officials postponed the women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia. They also decided that Japanese baseball’s Opening Day will be delayed indefinitely. European soccer will play in empty stadiums. These are just a few of the sporting events affected by the coronavirus.
Although other events are still scheduled to take place this month, many organizations are discussing how to keep players and fans safe without disruption. Below are just a few of the discussions taking place.
The NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS released a joint statement Monday announcing their plans to restrict locker room access. This is a preventative safety measure for its players, coaches, and club employees.
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts… all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice,” the statement reads. “Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting.”
Several NHL teams were already restricting media access in order to stifle the spread of the coronavirus. MLS launched its own task force last week to help its clubs stay up to date on news developments so they can take preventative measures.
According to sources close to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “One scenario introduced into the league’s conversation [concerning the coronavirus] involves moving some games to NBA cities that have yet to suffer outbreaks.”
Wojnarowski added, “If the virus clusters and forces a team out of its city and arena for a period of time, there has been discussion about moving games to the away opponent’s arena if that city hasn’t suffered an outbreak—or even moving games to neutral cities and sites.”
If a particular MLB stadium is closed, the league proposes playing the game at the visiting team’s venue.
MLB is willing to do what’s necessary in order to play in front of fans. According to the Associated Press, however, the league “anticipates government officials will decide whether it is safe to play in front of fans in each city.”
The Ivy League announced Tuesday that it will cancel its conference tournament. It will award the March Madness bid to the regular-season champion, the Yale Bulldogs. Additionally, the Princeton University Tigers can go to the women’s NCAA tournament.
“With the health of students as well as the campus and the general community in mind, the Ivy League presidents have decided to cancel the upcoming Ivy League men’s and women’s basketball tournaments,” the league statement reads.
“Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”