Sports

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

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

Canadian Elite Basketball League won't open season until at least June

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

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

Manfred 'to turn over every stone' for MLB season

Rob Manfred wants Major League Baseball to be in position to take the field whenever government and health officials give the go-ahead.

"I think it's incumbent upon us to turn over every stone to try to play the game in 2020 if there's any way we can in the environment," the baseball commissioner said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press.

Spring training was suspended March 12 because of the new coronavirus pandemic and the season's scheduled start on March 26 delayed. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all gatherings of 50 people or more be put off through mid-May.

Among the plans baseball is investigating is basing all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and using the 10 spring training ballparks there, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field and possibly college facilities. Games would be played in empty stadiums; players, staff and broadcast crews and technicians would be kept in controlled environments, such as ballparks, hotels and MLB-arranged transport.

CEBL postpones season opener until at least June

Canadian Elite Basketball League commissioner Mike Morreale announced the beginning of the season, set for May, has been postponed until at least June.

"With restrictions in place limiting the size of public gatherings and the closure of some team practice and game venues into June, opening the season as scheduled in May is not feasible," he said.

The CEBL had been scheduled to tip off its second season May 7 with the expansion Ottawa BlackJacks taking on the Niagara River Lions, but is postponing the start date to at least June.

The seven-team league — also with Hamilton, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Guelph, Ont., Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, B.C.) — competes with 70 per cent of the 10-player rosters made up of Canadian content.

The league had been making headlines heading into its second season, adding the Ottawa franchise and signing a broadcast partnership deal with CBC through 2022 which included live streams of all 70 regular-season games and five playoff games.

Tour de France moved to late August

The Tour de France has new dates, and it will be followed by cycling's two other major races.

Because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the iconic race around France will now start on Aug. 29 and finish on Sept. 20. The Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta, cycling's two other Grand Tours, will take place after the French race.

The International Cycling Union announced the Tour's new dates on Wednesday after consulting with race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation. The race was originally scheduled to start on June 27 in Nice.

It's the first time since the end of World War II that the race is not starting in July.

The race's finish on the Champs-Elysees will coincide with the start of the rescheduled French Open tennis tournament a short distance away on the clay courts of Roland Garros in western Paris.

Canada's Sports Hall of Fame closes museum for 2020

Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is closing the doors on its Calgary museum until the end of 2020, but will still announce a class of inductees this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Hall's major spring fundraiser. The Hall also cancelled October's induction gala, which was another revenue generator.

Temporarily shuttering the museum was a financial survival step, according to the Hall's chief executive officer Cheryl Bernard.

"We need to do the responsible thing by minimizing our overhead so that we come out the other side and continue to do our job preserving history and educating Canadians on the value of sport, but also respecting we're going to need time," Bernard told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

Ex-Raptor Cory Joseph, family helping frontline workers

Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph and his family are donating face shields through Operation Canadian Shield to help protect frontline workers in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 28-year-old point guard from Pickering, Ont., has teamed up with Kings chief of staff/assistant coach and fellow Canadian Roy Rana.

"It is heartbreaking to witness the effects of this pandemic around the world, so I wanted to do my part to help where I grew up," Joseph, who played with the Raptors from 2015 to 2017, said in statement released by the Kings. "The courageous work of the hospital community is admirable, and it is important to help protect them."

Added Rana, who joined the Kings last June: "This is a tragic situation for all of us, and at the same time it is inspiring to see Cory's leadership in this effort. I am honoured to help him aid these healthcare heroes back home while they put their lives on the line to save others."

Joseph and Rana's donation is part of the Kings' In This Together initiative to provide support. Guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and forward Nemanja Bjelica partnered with general manager Vlade Divac's foundation last week to fund the purchase of ventilators, masks and supplies for hospitals and medical institutions in their native Serbia.

Operation Canadian Shield is an initiative launched by Flash Reproductions in Toronto to provide frontline workers with essential safety equipment for protection.

Montreal Impact employee tests positive for COVID-19

The Montreal Impact announced Wednesday that a club employee has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Major League Soccer club said the employee, who was suffering from mild symptoms for a few days, is doing well and has been placed in quarantine according to isolation protocol.

The team did not specify whether the employee was a player or another member of the team's staff.

The Impact said its the only confirmed case of the novel coronavirus within the organization so far.

Canucks' online 50/50 draw raises nearly $250K

The Canucks for Kids Fund reported Wednesday an online 50/50 raffle to support COVID-19 relief raised 4248,848 for important causes during the pandemic.

Money raised from the 50/50 will be directed to Food Banks B.C. ($150,000), Canadian Mental Health Association ($50,000), KidSafe ($25,000), which provides essential programs for hundreds of children in need of a safe place to spend their days, and Family Services of Greater Vancouver ($20,000).

Blackhawks cancel NHL fan convention

The Chicago Blackhawks have cancelled their fan convention due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event was scheduled for July 24-26 at the Hilton Chicago. It gives fans autograph opportunities as well as an audience with management, coaches and players.

The team says refunds for convention passes and hotel rooms will be processed automatically.

Relive 1992 Dream Team's Olympic romp

With no NBA games to watch during the sports shutdown, the Dream Team's historic romp through Barcelona will be rebroadcast in its entirety.

The Olympic Channel will begin weekly streaming of the U.S. basketball team's victories in the 1992 Olympics, when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined the team.

The 1992 Olympics were the first that featured NBA players, and the Americans stormed to the gold medal. They won by an average of 44 points per game and were credited with jump-starting basketball's global growth. The team was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

First up is the Americans' victory over Angola on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.

Belarusian women's Premier League postpones opener

The Belarusian Football Federation said on Wednesday it was postponing the start of its women's Premier League after several players were found to have been in contact with possible carriers of the novel coronavirus.

Belarus is the only country in Europe still playing a men's national soccer league, making it an unlikely draw for fans overseas where matches have been cancelled.

The federation said the Belarusian Women's Premier League, which had been set to kick off on Thursday, would not open its 2020 season until further notice.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has been publicly skeptical about the need for strong action to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Ticats coach feels virus robbed XFL of time to form following

Jim Barker remains a member of a rare pro football fraternity.

In 2001, Barker was the offensive co-ordinator with the Los Angeles Xtreme team that captured the first, and only, XFL title. Shortly afterwards, the spring league founded by wrestling guru Vince McMahon folded.

McMahon relaunched the XFL this year with eight franchises and reportedly committed $500 million US over the next three seasons to get the venture on solid ground. But McMahon's reincarnation didn't finish the season, ceasing operation just five games into its 10-game schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately filing for bankruptcy.

Barker, currently an offensive/special-teams assistant coach and personnel consultant with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said the novel coronavirus outbreak robbed the XFL of its most important element — time.

"You need to establish followings and the problem is it takes three, four, five years to do that," Barker said. "But with this virus, now [McMahon] loses the revenue for this year, he pays for next year and who knows what's going to happen when they're supposed to go to camp in January.

With files from The Canadian Press, Associated Press and Reuters

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