By The Associated Press
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola have donated 1 million euros ($1 million) each to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Guardiola made his donation to the Barcelona Medical College, which said on Twitter the money would be used to buy medical supplies to treat coronavirus patients in the Spanish city. Guardiola is a Catalan native, and the former Barcelona coach.
Messi’s donation will be split between Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic and efforts in his native Argentina, according to Spanish newspaper AS.
The Hospital Clinic said the donation will go toward treating patients as well as research seeking a cure for COVID-19.
Spain is among the countries worst hit by the pandemic, with more than 2,600 deaths attributed to the virus.
The NHL is extending its recommendation for players and staff to self-isolate and stay away from team practice facilities until at least April 6.
Multiple people with knowledge of the update say the NHL has recommended players and staff extend their self-quarantine 10 days beyond the original March 27 timeline, further pushing back the earliest date team facilities can reopen. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the NHL hadn’t formally announced the change in protocol.
The league over the past two days has held conference calls with its Board of Governors and general managers to update them and take questions about the current situation. There is still no clarity on when the NHL might resume its season. Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently it would be a decision made in accordance with health officials and that the league is working on various scenarios about what a potential return to play could look like.
— Reporting by Hockey Writers Stephen Whyno and John Wawrow
For U.S. women’s water polo players Maggie Steffens and Kaleigh Gilchrist, the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics made perfect sense.
Steffens says the program’s team-first approach made it easier for her to handle the announcement.
“We are just a very, very small part of not just the water polo community, but of Team USA and then the greater team that’s being affected by all this, which is the world,” she told the AP. “So at the end of the day the health and safety of our world is the No. 1 priority and so because of that, I completely respect and understand this decision.”
The U.S. women hold every major title in the sport right now. They are going for their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
But, like so many other Olympic athletes, their training had been disrupted by the new coronavirus. Gilchrist has been swimming in the bay near her house in Southern California to help keep up her fitness.
“It’s been stressful, but with the postponement I hope we can all take a big sigh of relief and focus on staying healthy and then getting after it once the team gets back together,” she said in an email to the AP.
Churchill Downs has delayed reopening stables at its track and training center until April 14 because of public health concerns related to the coronavirus. A decision on postponing the scheduled April 25 spring meet opening will be made closer to that date.
The storied track last week postponed the 146th Kentucky Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5, the first time the event won’t be run on the first Saturday in May since 1945. Churchill Downs’ stables have been closed since Dec. 31 for winter renovations, and many of the horses that would be there are at tracks including Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Gulfstream Park in Florida.
“We understand how trying the impact of this decision is on our horsemen,” Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said in a statement.
Two U.S. senators are pressing for transparency after the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the Tokyo Games over concerns about the coronavirus.
Senators Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, are part of a subcommittee that handles issues related to the Olympics. In a joint statement, Moran, who’s the chairman, and Blumenthal, the ranking member, pushed for more clarity as the IOC decides when the games in Tokyo will be held in 2021.
“Athletes deserve clear answers to when the games will be held and how their health will remain protected — not just at the Olympics themselves, but during the trials and training beforehand,” the statement read. “Clarity and transparency are vital steps to ensure the best possible outcome for the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Moran and Blumenthal sent a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach on March 11 to ask about the committee’s plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Tokyo Games. They also talked with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee over health and safety of the athletes.
Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes are funding three intensive care units for coronavirus patients at hospitals in Portugal.
A hospital in Porto said the contribution from the Juventus forward and his agent will pay for 15 intensive care beds fully equipped with ventilators and other necessary equipment. Another two units with 10 beds each will be set up in Lisbon.
Media reports said Ronaldo and Mendes are contributing more than 1 million euros (dollars) for the three units.
The Centro Hospitalar Universitario do Porto says the unit will be named after Ronaldo and Mendes and will be of “great use at a time when the country needs it the most.”
NASCAR has ordered staff pay cuts across its entire company until the series returns to racing.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps sent a memo to employees Tuesday saying all officers will have a 25% reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salary reduced by 20%. Budget expenses also have been frozen, and employees are being encouraged to use vacation.
NASCAR currently is suspended until May 9, a span costing the series seven of its elite Cup races. Phelps has vowed all will be rescheduled. NASCAR was four races into the season — the longest in sports at almost 11 months — when the coronavirus brought the series to a halt.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s newest class won’t get inducted until next year.
Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame officials have announced their scheduled June 13 induction ceremony has been postponed to June 12, 2021, at Knoxville, Tennessee, because of the pandemic.
The induction class features Debbie Brock, Carol Callan, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Sue Donohoe, Lauren Jackson and Carol Stiff. The 1980 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team is to be honored as trailblazers of the game.
The U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, will be rescheduled in the wake of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games because of the spread of the coronavirus.
TrackTown USA, the local organizing body, announced Tuesday that is working with USA Track & Field and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee on rescheduling the event, which was originally set to start on June 19.
“Although it is not yet clear how long it may take to finalize a new date for the event, our Local Organizing Committee stands ready to welcome the best athletes in the country to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field once a decision is reached,” TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly said in a statement.
TrackTown USA is working on procedures for fans who already have purchased tickets to either retain them or apply for refunds.
The Olympic trials were among the marquee events set to showcase the newly reconstructed Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Hayward Field has been expanded in anticipation of the 2021 world track and field championships.
The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals have made a $1 million donation to help those in the state affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cardinals are working with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to launch an initiative that will help fund protective equipment for medical personnel, support nonprofits like food banks and homeless shelters, and provide disadvantaged students with technology to help with online learning.
Cardinals President Michael Bidwell said in a statement that “this unprecedented crisis has us asking what we can do to help and what might have the greatest impact. We are grateful for the creation of this relief fund, are proud to support its critically important mission and hope that others throughout the community can join this effort in whatever way that they are able.”
Jacksonville’s Shad Khan is the latest NFL owner to donate money to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
Khan committed $1 million to northeast Florida’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
He is giving Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund $400,000. He is giving $75,000 to Feeding Northeast Florida. He is giving $75,000 to The Clara White Mission to provide food and care for the city’s homeless. He is giving the Jacksonville Public Education Fund $50,000 to provide needed supplies and technology to students and teachers as they make the transition to digital home learning.
He also is giving the local chapter of the American Red Cross $50,000 in support of Anheuser-Busch’s initiative to support the continuation of blood drives throughout the country.
Additional allocations will be made as the pandemic evolves and its effects on Jacksonville and northeast Florida residents continue to be realized.
The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers have done an about-face on cutting salaries for employees making more than $100,000. A day after announcing the temporary 20% pay cuts because of the economics effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the teams’ co-owners rescinded them.
Co-owner Josh Harris says after listening to his staff and players, it’s clear that the pay cuts was the wrong decision.
“This is an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most of us have ever lived through before — and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”
The teams did not say whether they plan to maintain a four-day work week, which was part of the cuts. Employees benefits were never changed and the teams plan on keeping their 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. The NHL’s Devils and the NBA’s Sixers are owned by Harris and David Blitzer, who are the founders of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment.
Five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings says it was the “responsible choice” to postpone the Olympics.
“When you do something on a grand scale, you want to do it right,” she told The Associated Press. “Give time for the world to heal. I can’t imagine the enthusiasm that’s going to be coming next year, with the whole world coming together to watch this. I know the Japanese people are going to make the best of this.”
A three-time beach volleyball gold medalist, Walsh Jennings was in position to make the 2020 Games with new partner Brooke Sweat. They’re treating the coronavirus shutdown like an offseason, staying home with their families and working out on their own.
California authorities have taken down the nets all along the Los Angeles-area beaches to discourage people from gathering. Walsh Jennings and her husband, beach volleyball pro Casey Jennings, put up a mini-net in their yard.
Walsh Jennings says she understands why the IOC wanted to wait to make the decision.
“Can you imagine making this decision after how many years and how much blood and sweat on a global level? People are having a problem calling off weddings, and calling off little tournaments, so imagine with all the billions of dollars that’s gone into this,” she said. “They have a grieving process to go through. They have so many moving parts to think about.”
Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics say the IOC and the Japanese government have ”chosen the best possible scenario” in postponing the Tokyo Games until next year.
The Paris organizers said in a statement Tuesday that “postponing the world’s biggest sporting event is not an easy decision,” but that the IOC did the right thing in listening to “the concerns of the sports world.”
The statement added that the ”postponement of the Tokyo Games will make it possible to offer the athletes optimal conditions for preparation and competition.”
Road race world champion Mads Pedersen of Denmark says he is happy the International Olympic Committee made the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games on Tuesday rather than wait weeks or even two months.
Pedersen would have been among the favorites to win cycling gold this summer. He says he’s sorry for the athletes who had planned their seasons around the Olympics. But he ultimately calls it the right decision, saying that “it shows that we are thinking above the sport and making everyone’s health the priority.”
The world cycling calendar has been suspended since the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Officials have not decided whether the Tour de France will carry on this July, but most of the events leading up to the Grand Tour race have been canceled or postponed.
The Montreal Canadiens are temporarily laying off 60% of employees while the National Hockey League season is suspended.
Groupe CH, which owns hockey’s most storied club, says the layoffs go into effect March 30. Groupe CH also is establishing a $6 million assistance fund that will enhance employment insurance to make sure employees receive 80% of their salary for the following eight weeks and be available for loans to employees.
Owner Geoff Molson says: “We are working extremely hard to limit the impact this situation will have on our employees.”
One of the key worldwide athlete groups that called for postponement of the Tokyo Games termed the IOC’s announcement a “bittersweet victory.”
The group Global Athlete says it was appropriate for the International Olympic Committee to make the call Tuesday, instead of on a four-week timeline that it had suggested over the weekend.
In a statement, the group said that while it commended the IOC for its decision, it also pressed the committee to engage with athletes while deciding on a new date for the Olympics.
The statement said, “As shown over the past several weeks, no athletes, no Games.”
World swimming body FINA says it will talk to the Japanese organizers of the 2021 world championships about a possible schedule clash with the Tokyo Olympics.
The championships are planned for July 16-Aug. 1 in Fukuoka.
If an exact one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics is agreed upon, it would take place July 23-Aug. 8.
FINA says talks with Japanese officials will “determine flexibility around the dates of the competition, if necessary and in agreement with the IOC.”
The governing body cites priorities including “athlete wellbeing and maximizing opportunities for aquatics stars to compete at the highest level.”
The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers have cut salaries for employees making more than $100,000 and put them on a four-day work week as the franchises deal with the impact of the coronavirus.
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CEO Scott O’Neil announced the move in a letter posted on the Devils’ website.
The cuts are scheduled to last for three months and will amount to roughly 6% of the employees’ yearly salary if the pandemic subsides.
The Devils of the NHL and the Sixers of the NBA are owned by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who are the founders of HBSE.
Modern pentathlon has canceled the remainder of its World Cup season and postponed the world championships from May to September or October.
The four remaining World Cups — two in Sofia, Bulgaria, another in Budapest, Hungary, and the final in Seoul — had already been pushed to May and June but have now been officially canceled.
The worlds, relocated from Xiamen, China, to Cancun, Mexico, and set for May 25-31, were rescheduled. The new dates were to be determined.
Governing body UIPM says it welcomed the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and will finalize plans to revise qualification.
The track world championships in Eugene, Oregon, could be moved from 2021 to 2022 after the Olympics were postponed.
World Athletics says it is talking with organizers about “alternative dates, including dates in 2022.”
The championships in Eugene are due to run from Aug. 6-15, 2021. That would conflict with the Olympics if the same July-August slot as originally planned for 2020 is used next year.
World Athletics adds that it is looking at a new qualification system to account for the postponement and for the havoc wreaked on the 2020 schedule by the coronavirus outbreak.
The president of the International Paralympic Committee says postponing the Olympics and Paralympics to 2021 was “the only logical option.”
The Paralympics are governed by the same contract as the Tokyo Olympics.
IPC president Andrew Parsons says “by taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement, including all Para athletes, can fully focus on their own health and well-being and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
USA Cycling chief executive Rob DeMartini tells The Associated Press that athletes were surveyed over the weekend by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and that the consensus was that postponing the Tokyo Games was the correct call.
DeMartini says “training disruption and qualification challenges are too big to overcome even if the environment returns to a degree of normal by late summer.”
DeMartini says that he is a fan of a “soonest possible” reschedule but not until the situation is a bit more predictable. That could mean early in 2021 or an Olympics that is pushed into the fall of next year.
DeMartini says “we just need to be sure everything is being done to protect their safety.”
IOC president Thomas Bach says he did not discuss new dates for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
One option would be July 23-Aug. 8. That is exactly one year from the now-postponed July 24-Aug. 9 dates.
Bach says the exact dates is a question for the Tokyo organizing committee and an International Olympic Committee panel overseeing the preparations.
Swimming and track have their biennial world championships scheduled to start in July or August 2021.
IOC president Thomas Bach says “alarming figures” in the past few days about the coronavirus were key to deciding the Tokyo Olympics must be postponed.
Bach cites the World Health Organization “saying in the last couple of hours that Africa has to prepare for the worst.”
The IOC has been advised by the WHO, which said Monday the pandemic is accelerating.
Bach says the original health issue for hosting the Tokyo Olympics was “could Japan offer a safe welcome” and the IOC was confident it could.
The Tokyo Olympics have been officially postponed until 2021.
The International Olympic Committee along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organizers have decided that the Tokyo Games cannot go ahead as scheduled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The IOC says the games will be held “not later than summer 2021” but they will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed “100%” to his proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Bach had previously said the IOC would make an announcement about postponing the 2020 Olympics in the next four weeks.
Taiwan’s professional baseball league has set April 11 as the revised date for opening day.
The start of the Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League’s season has been delayed twice this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CPBL’s website says the opening game would go ahead in a closed stadium but there could be up to 150 season ticket holders allowed entry under strict social distancing guidelines if the government approves.
Sports leagues across Asia have been postponed or suspended because of the virus outbreak. The professional baseball and soccer leagues in Japan are aiming to start or resume their seasons in late April.
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