Major League Baseball to proceed ‘as scheduled’ amid coronavirus outbreak


(Reuters) – Major League Baseball’s Spring Training and regular-season games are expected to proceed as scheduled, the league said on Monday after consulting with all 30 teams amid a global coronavirus outbreak that has disrupted major sporting events.

“The health and safety of everyone in our communities is of the utmost importance to us,” MLB said in a written statement. “While MLB recognizes the fluidity of this rapidly evolving situation, our current intention is to play Spring Training and regular season games as scheduled.”

The league said it was “regularly conveying” guidance from medical experts and government agencies to players and staff on best practices and travel recommendations.

“We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary,” MLB said.

MLB joined three other professional sporting leagues – Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League – on Monday in announcing it would restrict locker room access to players and “essential staff.”

The rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak has upended major international sporting events and raised concerns that the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games could be canceled, postponed or held without fans.

The NBA recently sent a memo to teams listing short-term recommendations to limit the spread of the coronavirus, advising players to fist-bump with fans instead of high-fiving them and avoid taking items to autograph.

Reporting By Amy Tennery; editing by Richard Pullin