Coronavirus: Here's what's happening in the sports world on Friday
Athletics Canada orders athletes home, threatens penalties for disregarding directive
The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:
- Masters golf tournament postponed.
- Canadian Olympic, Paralympic swimming trials postponed.
- Olympic torch relay suspended because of crowds.
- Men's Olympic soccer qualifying postponed.
- Olympic wrestling qualifier in Ottawa closed to fans.
- The EPL has temporarily suspended its season.
- UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League games.
Raptors players, staff test negative after contact with Jazz
Toronto Raptors players and staff who underwent testing for COVID-19 earlier this week are "all currently negative" for the virus, with one result pending, the team said Friday.
The Raptors underwent testing for the novel coronavirus after learning that a player on the Utah Jazz, a team they recently faced, had the virus.
"All of the members of the travel party who were tested on Wednesday in Toronto have received their results, and they are all currently negative. Results for one additional person are pending," the Raptors said in a release.
"These results will not affect our protocols, however. Those asked to self-isolate by Toronto Public Health will continue to do so. We will all practice social distancing and good hand hygiene, and — most importantly — carefully monitor our health."
Triathlon Canada suspends season for six weeks
Triathlon Canada is suspending its season for six weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization plans to go ahead with world championship events scheduled later this summer in two Canadian cities.
Triathlon Canada announced Friday night in a statement that it would suspend its season until April 30.
"As the situation is changing rapidly in Canada and around the globe, we felt it was most prudent to ensure we as a sport are doing our part to protect our communities and fellow vulnerable citizens during this unprecedented time," Triathlon Canada said.
"Our goal is to ensure that we have a successful racing season — including staging world championship events in Montreal and Edmonton later this summer. Our hope is that by taking extra precautionary measures now, we will all be able to be back on a start line as soon as possible."
Canadian Olympic, Paralympic swim trials postponed
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic swimming trials have been postponed due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
Swimming Canada announced the postponement Friday, following an order from the Ontario provincial government to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people.
The trials were scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 5 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
"With 3,000 to 5,000 people expected to attend daily, our Olympic and Paralympic trials would grossly exceed the recommendations from Ontario's chief medical officer," Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi said in a release.
Bettman yet to put timeline on NHL 'pause'
The NHL is telling its players and staff to stay away from the rink and self-isolate while hockey is on a hiatus of unknown length during the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday he was not aware of any player or league employee testing positive for the new coronavirus, but he can't say for certain that no one is feeling ill or awaiting test results. The league announced Thursday it was putting its season on "pause," but Bettman remains optimistic of resuming play and eventually awarding the Stanley Cup.
Bettman told owners the first positive test result by any player would mean "all bets are off" and that the decision to suspend the season came after what happened in the NBA. There are some 700 players among the 31 NHL teams across North America.
Mets say Donovan Mitchell's father tested negative
The New York Mets say the father of Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has tested negative for the coronavirus.
Donovan Mitchell Sr. works for the Mets as director of player relations and community outreach. The younger Mitchell confirmed Thursday he tested positive for the coronavirus after Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive, with Gobert's test prompting the league to suspend the season.
The Mets say the elder Mitchell was tested Thursday and a negative result was received Friday night.
Athletics Canada taking precautions
Canada's governing body for track and field has asked all of its athletes training abroad to return home.
Athletics Canada also cancelled the Canadian indoor championships, which were scheduled for March 21-22 in Montreal, amid the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization said on its website that Canadian athletes will not participate in the Florida Relays from March 29 to April 5, the Desert Challenge in Arizona from March 31 to April 5, or the WPA Grand Prix from May 22 to 24 in Italy.
"No travel will be authorized/supported by AC outside Canada for athletes, coaches and support staff through at least April 12," read the online statement.
Any athlete or coach who disregards the travel directive will lose staff and financial support, according to the website. There is also a growing risk that insurance coverage will not be in force should the advisory be disregarded.
Wrestling qualifier proceeds without fans in Ottawa
An Olympic wrestling qualifier in Ottawa is still going ahead, but is now closed to spectators.
United World Wrestling and Wrestling Canada Lutte announced in a release that the Pan-American Olympic qualification tournament at Ottawa's Shaw Centre will run from Friday through Sunday with only essential staff and limited family members in attendance due to the spread of COVID-19.
An opening ceremony planned for 4 p.m. ET Friday has been cancelled.
Henri Richard funeral closed to public
The funeral for former Montreal Canadiens captain Henri Richard on Monday in Montreal will be closed to the public because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Canadiens announced the decision was made in response to measures put in place by the Quebec government to prevent the spread of the virus.
The club says it is an "exceptional situation" that left the family with no other choice but to hold a private funeral, involving only immediate family members.
Richard died on March 6. He was 84.
Canada Soccer suspends all activities
Canada Soccer has suspended all sanctioned soccer activities because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The governing body is essentially asking more than 810,000 players, referees and coach to stop soccer activities.
The move is unprecedented. A Canada Soccer spokesman said while the association itself closed during the two world wars, the sport continued to be played.
Canada Soccer says the move was made to ensure the safety of players, coaches, officials and fans.
Augusta National hopeful to host Masters at later date
Augusta National decided Friday to postpone the Masters because of the spread of the coronavirus. The tournament had been scheduled for April 9-12.
Club chairman Fred Ridley says he hopes postponing the event puts Augusta National in the best position to host the Masters and its other two events at some later date.
Ridley did not say when it would be held. The PGA Tour has cancelled all events through the Masters, and golf has a full schedule of events through the year.
The next major would be the PGA Championship in San Francisco in May.
Torch relay suspended
The Greek Olympic committee says it is suspending the rest of its torch relay because of the "unexpectedly large crowd" that gathered to watch despite repeated requests for the public to stay away to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee says a large crowd had gathered to watch the flame for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo pass through the southern Greek town of Sparta. The flame was lit Thursday at the birthplace of the Games in Ancient Olympia in a pared-down ceremony.
The committee says it took "the difficult but essential decision to cancel the rest of the program of the flame relay on Greek territory."
It says the decision was taken in co-ordination with the health ministry and the International Olympic Committee.
The handover of the Olympic flame to the Tokyo organizing committee will go ahead as scheduled on March 19 at the stadium in Athens where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.
Cross-country World Cup in Quebec cancelled
The World Cup cross-country ski event this weekend in Quebec City has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The move ends the cross-country season. Races for next week in Minneapolis and Canmore, Alta., were cancelled Thursday.
Several of the top competing countries left Quebec over the last couple of days and then Canada announced early Friday morning it would not compete.
CONCACAF halts Olympic qualifying
Men's Olympic qualifying was suspended Friday in soccer's North and Central American and Caribbean region because of the coronavirus.
The U.S. under-23 team already was in Guadalajara, Mexico, where it had been scheduled to play group stage matches against Costa Rica on March 20, the Dominican Republic three days later and Mexico on March 26. The other teams are Canada, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras. The two semifinal winners join the 16-nation Olympic field in Japan.
The Canadian men were still slated to play Trinidad and Tobago on March 27 and 31 in Langford, B.C., during the March international window, but Canada announced the cancellation of those matches later Friday.
Formula 1 races postponed
The Bahrain and Vietnam Grand Prix races have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Bahrain GP was scheduled to be held next week — at an empty track — and the inaugural Vietnamese GP was set to be held in Hanoi on April 5.
The first four races of the Formula One season have all been called off. The season-opening Australian GP was postponed yesterday and the China GP was postponed in February.
No new dates have been set for the races, but governing body FIA says it expects to begin the F1 season in May when it reaches Europe with the Dutch GP.
Premier League suspended
The English Premier League has been suspended after three clubs put their entire playing squads in self-isolation because of coronavirus.
The league had expected to continue with a full schedule this weekend with fans, but later decided to suspend all matches until April 3 "at the earliest."
The same suspension applies for the three lower divisions overseen by the English Football League and to England's top two women's divisions.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, leading to the cancellation of the match against Brighton on Saturday. Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi also had a positive test on Thursday, while Everton said Friday that a player had reported symptoms consistent with coronavirus and said its squad was self-isolating.
Two more clubs said some players or staff would self-isolate. Bournemouth said Friday that reserve goalkeeper Artur Boruc and four members of staff had symptoms consistent with the virus. Leicester said Thursday that three players had "extremely mild illness" and would self-isolate as a precaution.
Champions League, Europa League postponed
UEFA has postponed all Champions League and Europa League games because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The quarterfinal draws in both competitions, scheduled for next Friday, have also been postponed.
The decision comes four days ahead of a meeting to decide the European soccer calendar, including the possible one-year postponement of the 2020 European Championship.
T20 tournament delayed
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to delay the start of the Indian Premier League T20 tournament by two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The tournament will now start on April 15 instead of March 29.
Ligue 1 suspended indefinitely
The French soccer league has suspended all matches indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Matches were scheduled to be held in empty stadiums, but the French league made its decision in an emergency meeting a day after President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on television.
No indication has yet been given as to when the league could resume. The league says it will next meet on Tuesday following a UEFA meeting.
Three Premier League teams in quarantine
Everton has become the third Premier League soccer club to put its entire playing squad in quarantine after a player reported symptoms consistent with coronavirus.
Arsenal and Chelsea announced similar measures on Thursday.
Everton says the club is in regular contact with the player in question and is monitoring the well-being of all players and staff. Its training complex has been closed down along with its stadium, Goodison Park.
Everton is scheduled to play Liverpool in the Merseyside derby on Monday.
However, it is increasingly likely all Premier League matches will be suspended. League officials are holding an emergency meeting to discuss future steps.
Giro d'Italia cycling race on hold
The Giro d'Italia has been postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, race organizers RCS Sport said on Friday.
"The organizing committee of the Giro d'Italia's Hungarian stages declared the Giro's start could not be held in Hungary at the originally scheduled time," the organizers said in a statement.
"All parties have agreed that they are determined to work together to enable the Giro d'Italia to depart from Hungary at a later time."
The race had been due to start in Hungary in May. A new date will be announced no earlier than April 3.
Boston Marathon succumbs to pressure
Organizers of the Boston Marathon, the planet's most celebrated foot race, are postponing the event until Sept. 14 because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.
The Boston Athletic Association, which oversees the marathon, had held off deciding the fate of the April 20 race even as other high-profile sporting events were cancelled or postponed around the globe.
But pressure had mounted in recent weeks from officials in Boston and the seven cities and towns along the 42.2-kilometre course. Some had expressed worries not only for the health of the 31,000 registered runners but also the estimated one million spectators who traditionally line the route, giving athletes hand slaps, high fives and even kisses as they pass.
With files from CBC Sports, The Canadian Press and Reuters