Sports

Coronavirus: Here's what happened in the sports world on Wednesday

Stay up to date on the latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe.

Olympic flame on display in Japan's Fukushima prefecture

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:

  • All-England club cancels Wimbledon in 2020
  • UEFA postpones Euro 2020 playoffs, again
  • Khabib refuses to break quarantine for UFC 249
  • MLSE leaders take pay cut
  • English soccer won't resume 'until it's safe to do so'
  • Olympic flame on display in Fukushima, Japan

Wimbledon cancelled for 1st time since World War II

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The All England Club announced after an emergency meeting that the oldest Grand Slam tournament in tennis would not be held in 2020.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.

It now joins the growing list of sports events scrapped in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

That includes the Tokyo Olympics, the NCAA men's and women's college basketball tournaments and the European soccer championship.

The last time Wimbledon was called off was 1945.

UEFA again postpones Euro 2020 playoffs

UEFA has postponed the Euro 2020 playoffs for the second time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The games were originally scheduled for March 26-31 and have now lost their June 4-9 dates.

The playoffs will decide the last four places in the 24-nation lineup for the postponed European Championship.

The decision was made in a conference call with officials from the 55 UEFA member federations.

UEFA says "all other UEFA competition matches, including the centralized international friendly matches, remain postponed until further notice."

Khabib won't break quarantine for UFC 249

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says he won't leave quarantine in Russia to fight, dealing another blow to UFC President Dana White's determination to hold UFC 249 in two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurmagomedov made his announcement Wednesday on Instagram, telling the mixed martial arts world to "take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes."

Nurmagomedov (28-0) was scheduled to fight top contender Tony Ferguson (25-3) in the main event of UFC 249, which was initially scheduled for Brooklyn before the pandemic threw the UFC's schedule into upheaval.

Nurmagomedov is in his native Dagestan, and his Instagram post made it clear he isn't leaving for the fight even if White is able to find a location to stage it. Nurmagomedov left California to return home when the UFC had tentative plans to stage UFC 249 in the United Arab Emirates, but the champion first revealed Monday that he probably wouldn't be allowed to leave the country again due to travel restrictions.

"I understand everything and I'm definitely more upset than you to cancel the fight," Nurmagomedov said. "Probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can't control it all."

MLSE leaders take pay reduction

Top Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment executives are taking pay cuts in the wake of COVID-19 shutting down the company's sports and entertainment business.

A memo to MLSE employees from president and CEO Michael Friisdahl obtained by The Canadian Press outlines the voluntary pay reductions as well as other steps to help mitigate pandemic-related losses.

"The halt in operations is having a dramatic impact on our business," Friisdahl wrote. "Not surprisingly, the sudden halt of all games and events on March 11th has had a significant impact to our revenue. At the same time many of our costs continue, which clearly puts financial pressure on our business.

"The situation is further compounded by the uncertainty and indefinite postponement of our operations."

Friisdahl said, effective Wednesday, MLSE's executive leadership team is taking a temporary salary reduction of 20 to 25 per cent. Given MLSE has also opted not to pay out annual bonuses to full-time employees, the reduction in pay for the leadership group will be close to 50 per cent.

Boston Marathon offering refunds

The Boston Marathon is offering refunds for the first time because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Race organizers say anyone who was entered in the 124th edition of the race this month can still run on the rescheduled date, Sept. 14. But if they can't make it, they can have their money back.

Those who have signed up for the Boston Athletic Association 5K the Saturday before the marathon can also get a refund.

More than 30,000 runners had signed up for the world's most prestigious 26.2-mile run, which had been scheduled for April 18. It costs $205 US for Americans and $255 for international residents.

English soccer will come back 'when it is safe'

English soccer authorities say there are "no quick answers" to the question of when play can resume following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premier League, English Football League and Football Association say in a joint statement there will be play "only when it is safe to do so."

They say clubs and supporters have a role to play in the meantime "in supporting the government's guidance and ensuring community strength and solidarity."

The most recent update from soccer authorities said there will be no play until April 30 at the earliest.

Russian clubs see funding diverted to fight COVID-19

A hockey team and a soccer club in Russia face being removed from their leagues after government financial support was diverted to fight the coronavirus.

The sports ministry in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai says it sees no point in funding player contracts for another season if it's not clear when competitions will resume. It wants the Admiral Vladivostok hockey club to drop out of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Luch Vladivostok soccer team to drop down two divisions into the amateur leagues.

The ministry says regional funding earmarked for professional sports will instead go into an anti-coronavirus fund.

Many Russian sports team rely heavily on regional governments and state-owned companies for much of their funding. Primorsky Krai is the first region to impose such drastic cuts.

All major sporting events in Russia are currently suspended.

Olympic flame on display in Fukushima

The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan's northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official "handover ceremony"on Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.

The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.

The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. The flame has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday's event merely ceremonial.

The Fukushima prefecture is the region of Japan that was devastated in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

Olympic officials have postponed the Tokyo Games until next year with the opening now set for July 23, 2021.

with files from Reuters and Field Level Media

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