March 9 (Reuters) - Four major North American professional sports leagues said on Monday they were temporarily restricting locker room access to players and "essential staff" amid the global coronavirus outbreak that has affected sporting events internationally.
The Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League issued a statement citing "consultation with infectious disease and public health experts" in making the decision.
"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," they said.
"Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting.
"These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s (Tuesday's) games and practices."
The National Football League, whose season ended with last month's Super Bowl, was not included in the statement.
Media are regular fixtures in U.S. professional sports locker rooms, where athletes frequently speak with reporters.
Concern over the recent coronavirus outbreak has impacted daily life for millions of people across the globe and disrupted major international sporting events. (Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)