Sports

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

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

Senators announce temporary layoffs, salary reductions

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

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

  • Senators implementing temporary layoffs, reduced pay
  • Major League Soccer extends moratorium on training
  • World Athletics won't clear Russian track athletes amid shutdown
  • British Open could be postponed
  • Senior PGA Championship cancelled
  • World Games get new dates
  • Patriots' private plane picks up one million masks

Senators cutting back on staff

The owner of the NHL's Ottawa Senators has announced the organization is implementing temporary layoffs and salary reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eugene Melnyk's company Capital Sports & Entertainment said in a release Thursday that its full-time workforce will be reduced effective Sunday, when the Senators' season was originally scheduled to end. Those not laid off could be placed on furlough while others could have their salaries reduced.

Melnyk had pledged to pay the income for part-time and hourly arena staff of the Ottawa Senators and the AHL Belleville Senators through to the end of their respective seasons. The NHL season was suspended indefinitely on March 12 in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Our employees have continued to work with dedication during these difficult times," Melnyk said in the release. "We want to thank them for their continued loyalty by providing support, as we all face extraordinary challenges. Although the sports and entertainment industry is being impacted severely, we will pull through by staying committed together. I look forward to the day when it is safe to reopen our doors and welcome back employees, fans and community partners."

MLS extends training moratorium

Major League Soccer has extended its training moratorium through April 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Team facilities are closed to players and staff — except for players requiring treatment that cannot be administered at their homes.

Players are expected to remain in market with their teams during the moratorium to avoid the spread of the virus. The league will consider individual requests for players to travel to another city by car.

MLS teams were two games into the season when it was suspended on March 12. A Philadelphia Union player with mild symptoms recently tested positive for the virus.

Russians won't be cleared for track amid virus

World Athletics says it won't clear any Russian athletes to compete internationally amid the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body of track requires Russians to apply for "authorized neutral athlete" status each year to compete outside their home country. Russia has been suspended from World Athletics since 2015 for widespread doping.

World Athletics spokeswoman Nicole Jeffery says in emailed comments that "the ANA system only applies to international competition, so until there is competition there is no need for any athlete to apply."

She adds that "for the next two months, at least, there is no competition, so the system does not need to be active until we know when the competition schedule can resume."

World Athletics hasn't decided how far in advance to open applications once competitions resume. High jump world champion Mariya Lasitskene and pole vault world champion Anzhelika Sidorova are among those who need their status renewed from last year.

British Open says postponement is an option

British Open organizers say postponement is an option for this year's golf tournament at Royal St. George's because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The R&A released a short statement in response to media speculation about the staging of the event in July. Chief executive Martin Slumbers says the "process is taking some time to resolve" because of a range of external factors.

Slumbers says "we are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can."

The 149th edition of the Open Championship is scheduled to take place July 16-19. The last time the Open wasn't played was in 1945 because of World War II.

Senior PGA Championship scrapped

The Senior PGA Championship in Michigan has been cancelled.

The PGA of America says it based its decision on Michigan's stay-at-home order that was enacted March 23. The Senior PGA in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was to be played May 21-24. It will be held next year at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

It will return to Benton Harbor the following year.

World Sailing event in Japan cancelled

World Sailing has cancelled the World Cup Series Final in Enoshima, Japan, in June because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The regatta was to give valuable competition for the Olympic classes just over a month before the start of the Tokyo Games.

The Olympics have been postponed to 2021.

World Sailing and Japanese officials were in talks to return to Enoshima in 2021 before the rescheduled Olympics.

Serie A team would forfeit matches if play resumes

Brescia president Massimo Cellino says he will forfeit his team's remaining Serie A matches if the Italian soccer league resumes.

Brescia is the third-worst hit province in Italy with more than 8,500 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Cellino says "this season doesn't make sense anymore."

He says "returning to activity is pure craziness. If they force us to I am ready to not put out the team and lose the matches 3-0 by default out of respect for the citizens of Brescia and their loved ones who aren't here anymore."

Brescia is in last place in the league standings. The president of Lazio recently accused Cellino of trying to avoid relegation.

Cellino says "I don't care at all about relegation. So far we have deserved it and I have my blame in that, too."

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.

"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."

World Games pushed to 2022

The 2021 World Games have been pushed back by a year to avoid clashing with the Tokyo Olympics which were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, World Games organizers said on Thursday.

The World Games, which are held every four years and feature 32 sports that are not part of the Olympic program, were scheduled to take place in Birmingham, Alabama, from July 15-25 next year but have now been postponed to July 7-17, 2022.

Organizers said that the decision to move the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 made a significant impact on the planning of the World Games and sticking to the original dates would have meant excluding many Olympic athletes and officials.

"A great deal of detailed work is now required to implement this decision, but I am impressed by the flexibility and efficiency of the Birmingham Organising Committee," International World Games Association (IWGA) President Jose Perurena said.

Patriots owner offers plane to transport masks from China

The New England Patriots' private team plane is returning to Boston from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker secured the N95 masks but had no way of getting them to the U.S.

Team owner Robert Kraft stepped in and offered to help. The plane, a Boeing 767 painted in the team's colours and logo, is usually used to carry the team to and from NFL games. It is expected back in Boston on Thursday.

with files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and Field Level Media

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