Coronavirus: Here's what's happening in the sports world on Thursday
Olympic men's basketball qualifier postponed 1 year with rejigged schedule
The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:
- FIBA to hold men's Olympic qualifier next year
- UFC 249 cancelled
- Curling Canada announces cancellations
- Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony postponed indefinitely
- NBA announces H-O-R-S-E tournament
- Olympic, Paralympic track trials returning to Montreal
- Australian rugby league planning to restart May 28
FIBA Olympic qualifier gets new dates
World basketball's governing body has postponed the men's Olympic qualifiers, the European Championship and the Americas Championship by a year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FIBA said on Thursday.
The Olympic qualifiers, which were due to take place from June 23-28 this year, have now been scheduled for a period between June 22 and July 4 next year, with the specific dates yet to be determined pending International Olympic Committee approval.
Women's Olympic basketball qualifying was completed in February when Belgium, Canada, Australia, France, Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Serbia, China, Spain and South Korea joined hosts Japan and world champions United States in the 12-team tournament.
UFC 249 cancelled
UFC 249 has been cancelled after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped UFC President Dana White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
UFC 249 was scheduled for April 18, and White planned to follow it with weekly fight cards from Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on tribal land in California's Central Valley.
White says he "got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN" on Thursday asking him to stop his efforts. The UFC moved to ESPN in 2019.
Curling Canada cancels remaining national championships
Curling Canada announced Thursday that the remaining national curling championships on its 2019-20 calendar have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement affects this year's national mixed doubles, seniors, under-18 and wheelchair championships.
The Canadian men's and women's championships were held earlier this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports events across the globe.
Curling Canada's announcement comes on the same day the World Curling Federation confirmed that the cancelled 2020 women's, men's, seniors and mixed doubles championships will not be rescheduled at any point this year. The world women's championship had been scheduled to start March 14 in Prince George, B.C.
58 prospects to participate in virtual NFL draft
Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young are among 58 prospects who will participate virtually in the NFL draft next week that will double as a telethon to raise money to fight the coronavirus crisis.
Burrow is one of eight LSU players who will take part in the April 23-25 draft, one more than Alabama.
Normally, top prospects would be invited to the draft itself, but this year's festivities in Las Vegas were scuttled by the coronavirus outbreak and the draft will instead be conducted in a studio with the league's 32 teams participating remotely from their hometowns.
The NFL also said that throughout the three-day draft it will host a "Draft-A-Thon" to benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and pay tribute to healthcare workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic.
Star-studded class awaits induction to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is posting its 2020 induction ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Toronto Blue Jays first baseman and two-time World Series champion John Olerud, 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., former Blue Jays pitcher Duane Ward and Montreal sportscaster Jacques Doucet were scheduled to be enshrined in a ceremony in St. Marys on June 20.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum said in a release Thursday that the ceremony and related events will be postponed until further notice.
The museum and ballfields are also closed to the public, as mandated under Ontario's declaration of emergency.
There will be basketball to watch this weekend
The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and ESPN will stream a H-O-R-S-E tournament on ESPN's app.
The NBA HORSE Challenge will have eight participants in a pre-taped event. The quarter-finals are to be shown Sunday and the semifinals and final on April 16.
The quarter-final matchups are Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks against former NBA player and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups; WNBA great and 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Tamika Catchings against Mike Conley Jr. of the Utah Jazz; Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls against NBA retiree and ESPN analyst Paul Pierce; and Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder against Allie Quigley of the WNBA's Chicago Sky.
Players must call their shots before the attempt and dunking is not allowed. The players will be isolated and competing on separate home courts.
Montreal to host track and field trials in 2021
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic track and field trials for next year's Tokyo Games will remain in Montreal.
Athletics Canada announced Thursday that the trials will take place in 2021 at Montreal's Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard. The event is expected to be held June 24-27.
Montreal was scheduled to hold the trials this summer from June 25-28, but the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trials will serve as the final event to determine the athletes nominated to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams competing in Tokyo.
Montreal hosted the Canadian Track and Field Championships in 2019. The last Olympic trials held in Montreal were in 1996.
Australian rugby league eyes return
The NRL has been suspended since March 23.
The governing ARL Commission also says it intends to play a full three-game State of Origin series.
Commissioner Wayne Pearce says they wanted to set a date and then work on finalizing a competition. It will depend on border restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria states and New Zealand opening up.
Pearce says "a date is to give certainty to players and their schedules, clubs and thousands of people who are out of work through clubs and millions of fans."
He says "the situation is changing dramatically and we need to get moving. It is in the best interests of our clubs, our players, our stakeholders and importantly our fans that the competition resumes as quickly and as safely as possible."
With files from The Associated Press