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

Stay up to date on the latest on the coronavirus outbreak's affect on sports around the globe.

NHL, NBA, MLS seasons suspended; MLB start postponed at least 2 weeks

Paris Saint Germain's Neymar, left, takes a freekick during the Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match between PSG and Borussia Dortmund, on Wednesday. The match was played in an empty stadium because of the coronavirus outbreak. (UEFA/The Associated Press)

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak's affect on sports around the globe

  • The NHL has temporarily suspended its season
  • MLB cancels rest of spring training, postpones season start at least two weeks
  • MLS suspending their season for 30 days
  • NBA's Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards have self-quarantined

NHL temporarily suspends season

The National Hockey League said on Thursday that it had temporarily suspended its season in light of the coronavirus that has already put the global sporting calendar in disarray.

The decision, announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement after a conference call with the board of governors, came a day after the NBA suspended its season until further notice after a player tested positive for coronavirus.

MLB postpones start of season

Major League Baseball will delay its 2020 season's opening day by at least two weeks and spring training games will be suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league said on Thursday.

The season had been scheduled to start on March 26.

"This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and our millions of loyal fans," the league said in a statement.

"MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season."

Hockey Canada has cancelled all activities

After conducting conference calls on Thursday, Hockey Canada issued a statement saying it has cancelled all of its upcoming events.

"After much consultation with the Hockey Canada membership, our chief medical officer and public health officials, the Hockey Canada Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including our national championships, until further notice, effective Friday, March 13, 2020."

Women's world curling cancelled

The women's world curling championship in Prince George, B.C., joined the expanding list of COVID-19 cancellations in the sports world Thursday. The 13-country championship was scheduled to start Saturday at the CN centre.

"It's with regret we're announcing it is no longer possible to run this world championship," World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness said in a statement Thursday. "However, the safety of our athletes, officials, staff and supporters is paramount which we cannot guarantee with the fast-evolving nature of this worldwide situation."

A decision has yet to be made on the men's world championship March 28 to April 5 in Glasgow, Scotland or April's world mixed doubles and senior championships in Kelowna, B.C.

March Madness cancelled

The NCAA has cancelled its men's and women's basketball tournaments because of the spread of coronavirus, putting an abrupt end to the season less than a month before champions were to be crowned.

The decision comes a day after the NCAA announced the games that were scheduled to start next week would go on, but played in mostly empty arenas.

That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league from the NBA to MLB put the brakes on its season due to concerns about the pandemic.

The NCAA cancelled all of its spring championships in every sport, which include hockey, baseball and lacrosse.

Canadian junior hockey leagues suspended

All three major junior hockey leagues in Canada and the American Hockey League have suspended play because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Canadian Hockey League announced Thursday that play has been halted in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

The 31-team AHL, the top minor league for the NHL, also has suspended play. The league includes four Canadian teams — the Toronto Marlies, the Manitoba Moose, the Laval Rocket and the Belleville Senators.

The Memorial Cup, the national championship tournament for the CHL, is scheduled for May 22-31 in Kelowna, B.C.

U Sports hockey championships cancelled

The men's and women's Canadian university hockey championships were cancelled Thursday night due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U Sports announced the cancellation after two quarterfinal games had been played on both the men's and women's sides.

The women's tournament was happening in Charlottetown while the men were in Halifax.

The announcement to halt the tournament came about an hour after Hockey Canada announced it was cancelling all its sanctioned events, including national championships.

Kevin Love makes large donation to help arena workers

Cavaliers star forward Kevin Love is committing $100,000 US toward helping arena workers in Cleveland who were impacted by the shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Love announced his intentions to make the donation through the Kevin Love Fund on Instagram.

Love, who has been very open about his struggles with anxiety, said he appreciates how the outbreak can be "extremely overwhelming" to people and that the suspension of the NBA season has caused a "sudden life shift" for workers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — home of the Cavs.

The team announced plans to financially help staff during the interruption.

Earlier, arena CEO Len Komorwski said despite the cancellation of the Mid-American Conference tournament that employees will be paid as if the event was held.

Cross-country ski events cancelled

A World Cup cross-country ski event scheduled for next week in Canmore, Alta., has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The FIS, the world governing body for skiing, announced the cancellation for the March 20-22 event on Thursday.

A World Cup cross-country event scheduled for Quebec City on Saturday and Sunday remains on the schedule for now.

CFL cancels its regional, national combines

The CFL has cancelled its regional and national combines in the wake of the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

The CFL was scheduled to hold its Ontario regional combine Thursday in Toronto while the East Regional was scheduled for Friday in Baie-D'Urfe, Que. The West Regional was slated for March 20 in Edmonton. The national combine was scheduled for Toronto on March 26-28.

PGA Tour shuts down for a month

The PGA Tour decided Thursday night to scrap the rest of The Players Championship and shut down its other tournaments for the next three weeks.

Commissioner Jay Monahan had said earlier Thursday there would be no fans at the TPC Sawgrass for the final three rounds, or at the next three tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule.

The tour changed its mind late Thursday.

"We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event through the weekend," the tour said in a statement. "But at his point — and as the situation continues to rapidly change — the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause."

NCAA basketball conference tournaments nixed

All of the Power Five conferences — Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Pac-12 — cancelled their conference basketball tournaments prior to the NCAA's announcement of cancellation of March Madness.

Also cancelling conference tournaments were the American, America East, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Conference USA, MAC, MAAC, MEAC and WAC.

Champions League matches postponed

The Champions League match between Manchester City and Real Madrid has been postponed after the Spanish team puts its players in quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Madrid has ordered its soccer and basketball teams to remain in isolation after one of the basketball players tested positive for the virus.

No new date for the second-leg match in the last 16 was announced. City leads 2-1 from the first leg in Madrid.

MLS to shut down for 30 days

Major League Soccer is shutting down for 30 days because of the coronavirus, delaying the home opener for the expansion team co-owned by former England captain David Beckham.

"Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season — based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement Thursday.

Inter Miami, co-owned by Beckham and Jorge Mas, had been scheduled to play its home opener Saturday. MLS started its season on Feb. 29 and each of the 26 teams has played two league matches.

Mas told players and coaches late Thursday morning, then held a news conference at the team's temporary stadium.

Mas says he expects the full 34-match season to be played

Men's world hockey championships could be cancelled: report

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions tells The Associated Press that a recommendation has been made to the International Ice Hockey Federation to cancel the men's world championships in Switzerland.

The recommendation will be taken up for a vote by IIHF members on Thursday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because a decision has not yet been reached. The recommendation comes days after the IIHF cancelled the women's worlds set to begin in late March in Nova Scotia.

The person said U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on Wednesday to ban travel from Europe led to the recommendation to cancel the world championships. The monthlong travel ban leads to uncertainty over whether NHL players, who traditionally make up many of the competing nations' rosters, will be able to travel from North America.

The 16-nation tournament is scheduled to open on May 8.

In other hockey developments, the National Women's Hockey League postponed its Isobel Cup final scheduled for Friday night in Boston. It did not provide a new date.

Formula One has cancelled Australian Grand Prix

Formula One organizers cancelled the season-opening Australian Grand Prix hours ahead of the first official practice sessions because of concern over the spreading coronavirus.

The sport's governing body, FIA, issued a joint statement with F1 and the Australian Grand Prix to confirm the cancellation of the race. It followed McLaren's decision to withdraw after one of its team members tested positive for the virus.

The statement says discussions between F1 and the other nine team principals "concluded with a majority view of the teams that the race should not go ahead."

There had been two practice sessions scheduled Friday, with qualifying Saturday for Sunday's GP. No fans had been allowed into the Albert Park circuit on Friday morning.

Manager of EPL club Arsenal has tested positive

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the club to close its training complex and put the entire first-team in self isolation.

Arsenal was due to play at Brighton on Saturday, with the Premier League pushing ahead with a full fixture list and stadiums with fans — unlike most other major sports.

However, Arsenal said "it is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates."

The club issued a statement quoting Arteta as saying: "This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I'm allowed."

Arsenal's game at Manchester City was called off on Wednesday after players came into contact with a rival team owner who announced Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19. They met Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis after the Greek team won at Arsenal in the Europa League on Feb. 27.

National Lacrosse League season suspended

The National Lacrosse League is suspending its season due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

The league announced the decision in a release Thursday.

"The National Lacrosse League has determined that it is in the best interests of our fans, our players, our coaches and our staff to temporarily suspend play until further notice due to concerns over COVID-19," the league said in a statement. "We will continue to evaluate this situation and remain in constant communication with health, team, business and league officials across North America.

"Security and safety is our top priority and focus in these challenging and unprecedented times, and we will continue to provide updates on resumption and rescheduling of play as they are determined."

Another Serie A player has tested positive

A second player from Italy's top soccer division has tested positive for coronavirus.

Sampdoria says 28-year-old forward Manolo Gabbiadini "has a fever but he's doing well." The Serie A club and adds that it is "activating all the isolation procedures provided for by law."

That is likely to include self-isolation for all players and staff.

Gabbiadini, who also plays for Italy's national team, wrote on Twitter "I too tested positive for Coronavirus. I want to thank all those who wrote to me, I've already received so very many messages. But I still want to reassure you that I'm fine, so don't worry. Follow the rules, stay home and everything will sort itself out."

On Wednesday, Juventus announced that defender Daniele Rugani had tested positive, but the player later said he's "OK" and wants "to reassure everyone who is worrying about me."

Juventus announced late Wednesday that Rugani and "those who have had contact with him" are being isolated. It also said Rugani is not showing any symptoms of the disease.

Rugani is the first player in the country's top soccer division to test positive for the virus.

The outbreak of the virus has led to a nationwide lockdown in Italy, where soccer and all other sports have been suspended until April 3.

ATP suspends tournaments for 6 weeks

The ATP has suspended all men's professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

No ATP Tour or ATP Challenger Tour events will take place through the week of April 20.

The tournament at Indian Wells, California, scheduled to begin main-draw play Wednesday already had been called off.

The affected events are the Miami Open, the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.

The next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, is still scheduled to be held in Paris beginning May 24.

Leicester players have symptoms, manager says

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers says "a few" of his players have symptoms of coronavirus and are being kept away from the squad.

Rodgers was speaking two days before Leicester plays Watford in the Premier League. He didn't say whether there had been any positive tests for the virus.

Only one Premier League game has been affected so far amid the outbreak, with Manchester City's home match against Arsenal on Wednesday called off. That decision was taken after members of Arsenal's playing squad went into self-isolation in a precautionary move.

Raptors will self-quarantine

The Toronto Raptors say they will go into self-quarantine because they recently played against the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert.

Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus.

"Out of an abundance of caution, members of the Raptors travelling party have been tested for the virus. We await those results. Our players, coaches and travelling staff have all been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days, which means minimizing contact in accordance with public health guidelines. Our team doctors remain in communication with infection control specialists and public health authorities, and we will continue to abide by their advice," the Raptors said.

Wizards in quarantine

The Washington Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations personnel are going to self-quarantine for the next three to four days.

The Wizards played at the Utah Jazz — who have a player, Rudy Gobert, that tested positive for COVID-19 — on Feb. 29. Washington also played Tuesday against the New York Knicks, another recent opponent of the Jazz.

The Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations staff who have flu-like symptoms will be tested for coronavirus.

UEFA to discuss Euros

UEFA has called European soccer stakeholders to a meeting by video conference on Tuesday to deal with the effect on competitions of the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA says they will discuss "all domestic and European competitions." That includes this year's European Championship.

The meetings will involve UEFA member federations and representatives of clubs, national leagues and player unions.

There is no blanket suspension of soccer across the continent, but national leagues have been shut down by public authorities in some countries, including Italy and Spain.

Real Madrid soccer, basketball teams in quarantine

Real Madrid says its soccer and basketball teams have been put in quarantine after a basketball play for the club tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Spanish club says the soccer team was also affected because it shares training facilities with the basketball team.

Pro baseball season in South Korea postponed

South Korea's professional baseball league says it will postpone the start of its season to mid-April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Korea Baseball Organization says it still hopes to maintain a 144-game regular-season schedule but will consider banning spectators from some games when risks of infections are high.

The KBO had already cancelled its preseason.

Euroleague suspends all games

The Euroleague says it is suspending all games indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Europe's main club basketball competition says it made the decision because of "the increased risks for participants in games, the vast amount of travelling disruptions causing the impossibility to reach certain destinations, and the different recommendations by the health authorities."

The league was scheduled to hold regular-season games in Moscow, Istanbul, Madrid and Tel Aviv on Thursday.

International Basketball Federation suspends play indefinitely

The International Basketball Federation says it is suspending all competitions indefinitely from Friday.

FIBA says the decision was made "in order to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans."

The suspension includes games in the Basketball Champions League, which is a rival competition to the better known Euroleague, and the second-tier FIBA Europe Cup. The Champions League is part-way through its playoffs.

Men's qualification for the Tokyo Olympics is expected to resume in June with a series of qualifying tournaments overseen by FIBA. Women's qualifying has already concluded.

Alpine ski season halted

The season-ending men's World Cup ski races were cancelled Thursday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, giving Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde his first overall title.

Giant slalom and slalom races were scheduled for this weekend in Kranjska Gora, near Slovenia's border with Italy.

The cancellations mean Henrik Kristoffersen, another Norwegian, becomes the season champion in both disciplines by tiny margins.

A four-race finals week in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, was cancelled last week by the International Ski Federation.

"The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders," the governing body said Thursday.

Kilde's runner-up finish in what proved to be the season-ending race — a downhill last Saturday in Kvitfjell, Norway — lifted him to the overall title above French rival Alexis Pinturault.

Pinturault also finished runner-up to Kristoffersen in giant slalom. Another Frenchman, Clement Noel, was runner-up to Kristoffersen for the season-long slalom title by only two points, 552-550.

Kristoffersen had an outside chance of winning the overall title if the final two races had gone ahead.

Kilde succeeds Austrian great Marcel Hirscher, who won eight straight overall titles before retiring in the off-season.

With files from CBC Sports, The Canadian Press


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