Sports

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

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

Japanese health official says vaccine critical for Olympics

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

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

  • Whitecaps selling face masks to help struggling Vancouver business
  • Japanese health official says vaccine critical before Olympics
  • Lakers return federal stimulus loan of nearly $5M US
  • F1 chair 'increasingly confident' in July return
  • Nadal concerned about injuries when tennis resumes
  • USA Swimming outlines plan for August return
  • UEFA loans $250M US to European soccer bodies
  • Russian soccer league targets late June restart

Whitecaps selling face masks to aid struggling aquarium

The Vancouver Whitecaps had sold more than 57,000 masks as of Monday morning with all net proceeds going to help the financially troubled Vancouver Aquarium.

The MLS team said it has sold more $1 million worth of face masks since the two groups announced the fundraising campaign on Friday. Masks have been sold in every province and two of three territories in Canada as well as Austria, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

The aquarium store website crashed temporarily Saturday and Sunday morning due to volume.

A not-for-profit operation, the aquarium closed March 17 because of the pandemic and is struggling to survive with more than 60 per cent of its staff temporarily laid off.

Japanese health official says vaccine critical for Olympics

The head of Japan's medical association said it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without coronavirus vaccines, and that he hoped effective vaccines or drugs to treat COVID-19 will be developed quickly.

"In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed," Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura told a video press conference Tuesday in Tokyo. "I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible."

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games until July next year due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid the rapid increase of the infections across the country, where hospitals are overburdened and causing fears of the collapse of the medical systems.

Yokokura said said the Games are possible only if the infections are under control not only in Japan but globally. He did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without vaccines.

"The key is a situation with the infections at that point (when the Games are planned). If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the Games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world," Yokokura said.

Experts have said it could take a couple of years or longer to develop vaccines that are safe and effective for clinical use.

Japan has 13,576 cases, as well as 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 389 deaths, the health ministry said Tuesday.

Lakers return $4.6M US stimulus loan

The Los Angeles Lakers have repaid a loan of roughly $4.6 million US from coronavirus business relief funds after learning the program had been depleted.

The Lakers applied for the loan under the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, a part of the federal government's $2.2 trillion stimulus package. The Lakers' request was granted in the first round of distribution, but after the fund ran out of money in less than two weeks, the team returned its loan, as did several wealthier business including Shake Shack and AutoNation.

The Lakers issued a statement Monday confirming what happened.

"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the statement read. "However, once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community."

F1 chairman Carey targets July 5 start

Formula One chairman Chase Carey says he is "increasingly confident" the season can start in July despite the first 10 races being cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The French Grand Prix decided to call off its race on June 28 rather than postponing it. That means the earliest start date is now the Austrian GP on July 5.

Carey says "we are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer" and that 15-18 races can take place.

F1 plans to start racing in Europe "through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria." The plan is then to race in "Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi."

French Grand Prix cancelled because of virus

The French Grand Prix has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The race was scheduled for June 28 on the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet in southern France. The French government has banned public gatherings until mid-July and race organizers decided not to try to postpone the race or try holding it without fans.

French GP managing director Eric Boullier says their plans are "already turning towards the summer of 2021 in order to offer our spectators an even more original event."

Nadal pessimistic about tennis' quick return to normalcy

Rafael Nadal says it will be "very difficult" for tennis to return to action any time soon and is concerned about the risk of injuries when the sport resumes.

Nadal spoke in a joint interview with NBA player Pau Gasol that was published by Spanish newspapers on Monday.

"I don't think training would be a problem, but competing … I see it very difficult," Nadal said. "It's a moment to be responsible and coherent, so I don't see how we can travel every week to a different country.

Nadal pointed out that even though there is a smaller risk of contagion in tennis compared to team sports, there are many people involved in the organization of tennis tournaments, from hotels to other sectors of society.

Nadal, who has had to deal with a series of injuries throughout his career, is also worried that the risk of new injuries will increase when players return to action.

USA Swimming reveals plan for August return

USA Swimming has announced its plans for a return to competition, beginning with a series of regional events in August before the national schedule begins in early November at Richmond, Virginia.

The governing body is cancelling all national events in July and early August because of the coronavirus pandemic. The regional events will be held in August, with an eye toward limiting the need for travel and promoting a safer environment for athletes, coaches, officials and families.

USA Swimming said it will announce further scheduling details in the coming weeks, subject to local health guidelines.

A tentative national schedule has been released, leading up to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in June 2021.

Shapovalov partakes in glitchy Madrid Open gaming

So here's a dose of realism — or surrealism — for the first video game tournament of the coronavirus pandemic involving professional tennis players: Thanks to Rafael Nadal's balky back, a match got postponed Monday.

The real clay-court tuneup for the French Open was supposed to be played May 1-10. But it is among more than 30 tournaments cancelled or postponed because tennis tours are suspended until at least mid-July. Wimbledon was called off for the first time in 75 years.

A combined 300,000 euros (about $325,000 US) in prize money is available, with the champs deciding how much to donate to tennis players having a hard time financially now. An additional 50,000 euros (about $55,000) is going to virus-related charity.

Nadal won his opener against Denis Shapovalov and was scheduled to play a second match later Monday. But Lopez said he got a text from Nadal explaining "he was really worried about the injury" to his back and wanted to put it off.

There were some hiccups with Monday's stream, interrupting matches or interviews.

"It was a little bit 'laggy' on my side," said Shapovalov, a 21-year-old from Canada currently ranked 16th. "It seemed like the internet wasn't great."

Cycling's 100th Catalonia Vuelta set for March 2021

Organizers of the Catalonia Vuelta cycling race say this year's edition will take place next year.

The 100th edition of the race had already been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally scheduled for March 23-29.

Organizers say the cycling calendar has been significantly reduced because of the pandemic and they didn't want the Catalonia Vuelta competing with other major events. They also did not want to change the race's format.

Organizers say they want "to celebrate a 100th edition with the maximum guarantees and with the best world cyclists."

They say the race will be held next year in the last week of March.

UEFA advances $250M US to European soccer bodies

UEFA is paying 236.5 million euros ($255 million US) in advance to its national federations and easing requirements on how they spend it during the pandemic.

It says each of its 55 members will receive up to 4.3 million euros ($4.7 million) they are due in central funding through next season.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says the money "can be used as our members see fit to rebuild the football community."

European officials are usually required to spend certain amounts in areas such as youth and women's soccer, referee training, and operating costs. They are not subject to mandatory UEFA audits.

Russian soccer wants to resume in late June

The Russian soccer league says it is hoping to resume play in late June and wants to complete its season by Aug. 2.

The league says it is discussing June 21 and 28 with clubs as possible dates to resume the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Each club has eight more league games to play.

The league, which has discussed a return to training, says it would keep promotion and relegation if the season can be completed.

The number of teams could expand from 16 to 18 for next season with the addition of the two best-placed teams from the second division if the season can't be finished. It would then shrink back to its current size for the 2021-22 season. The Russian Cup could also be removed from the calendar for next season only.

With files from The Associated Press

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