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

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

Japanese government continues preparations for Olympics in July 

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

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

  • Japan not 'making adjustments' to postpone Olympics
  • Spanish soccer team Alaves hit hard by virus
  • Mexican Olympic pentathlete tests positive
  • Men's/women's pro tennis tourneys cancelled through June 7
  • Ryder Cup in September going ahead for now
  • QMJHL draft on June 6 will be held online

Japanese government prepares for Olympics in July 

Japan is not making any preparations to postpone the 2020 Olympics, the government's top spokesman said on Wednesday, stressing Tokyo's resolve to host the event as scheduled despite the global spread of coronavirus.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government would continue with preparations to hold the July 24-Aug. 9 Games as scheduled, working closely with organizations such as the International Olympic Committee.

His comments come amid mounting concerns about whether the Games can proceed as planned, with the rapidly spreading virus panicking financial markets and bringing business and social activity around the world to a standstill. Many sports events have been canceled or postponed.

The International Olympic Committee has remained committed to staging the Tokyo Games as planned, saying on Tuesday after a meeting with international sports federations that measures against the virus were delivering results.

But the IOC is facing growing voices of dissent from top athletes worried about their health. The coronavirus has so far killed more than 8,200 people and infected over 200,000 worldwide.

15 members of Spanish soccer club have virus

Spanish soccer team Alaves says 15 people in its club have become infected with the coronavirus: three players, seven members of its coaching staff and five other employees.

Valencia and Espanyol said earlier this week that their clubs have also been hit by the virus.

Valencia said Monday that 35 per cent of its squad and coaching staff are infected, while Espanyol said on Tuesday that six members of its squad and staff have it.

All three clubs say their infected members are in good health.

Mexican Olympian, 2019 Pan Am champ has virus

Mexican pentathlete Mariana Arceo, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is being treated at a clinic in Mexico City.

The 25-year-old Arceo won the gold medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima and had been training in Barcelona where she contracted the virus. She began showing symptoms after returning to Mexico last weekend.

Ana Guevara, director of Mexico's National Commission on Physical Culture and Sports, said Arceo's condition "is advancing well."

Arceo is the first Mexican athlete qualified for Tokyo to test positive. Guevara said 218 athletes who had travelled to other states or countries have been tested and all others were negative. Her trainer, who was with her in Barcelona, and three other members of Mexico's pentathlon team are under observation

No WTA, ATP tourneys through June 7

All men's and women's professional tennis tournaments through June 7 are being called off because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The ATP and WTA announced Wednesday that the entire clay-court circuit "will not be held as scheduled" — a day after the start of the French Open, also played on that surface, was postponed from May to September.

The tours had said last week they would suspend play until late April or early May.

The tournaments affected by the tours' suspensions include combined men's and women's events in Madrid and Rome.

Also being scrapped are upcoming WTA tournaments in Strasbourg, France, and Rabat, Morocco, along with ATP events in Munich; Estoril, Portugal; Geneva; and Lyon, France.

Both tours also said that their rankings will be frozen "until further notice."

The International Tennis Federation also put a halt to its lower-tier events until June 7.

September's Ryder Cup a go for now

There are no plans to postpone September's Ryder Cup in Wisconsin, European captain Padraig Harrington said on Wednesday in response to a British media report that said the event was likely to be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The official Ryder Cup USA twitter feed also described the report in Britain's Telegraph as "inaccurate."

The Ryder Cup, a biennial team event between the United States and Europe, is jointly owned and operated by the PGA of America and the European Tour.

"September is a long way off," Harrington said on Irish radio station Today FM.

"So there's no change to the situation at all at this stage. I know there's been some rumors and they had to put out a statement to say there's been no change, but there's definitely no change."

The responses follow the Telegraph report that the Ryder Cup was "expected" to be postponed, "with the golf authorities rapidly reaching the decision that their most lucrative spectacle should not be jammed into a schedule that is contracting by the week due to the coronavirus crisis."

The Ryder Cup is scheduled for Whistling Straits on the shores of Lake Michigan from Sept. 25-27.

Cuba suspends sporting events through April

Cuba has joined countries around the world in suspending its sports calendar due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The national sports institute announced Wednesday that events would be put off at least until April 30.

The official Prensa Latina news agency said that will push back the baseball season, which had been scheduled to start on April 11, as well as this month's Cuba Cup of track and field.

The institute also said that Cuban delegations won't travel abroad, potentially affecting qualification for the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Cuba has reported 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death, that of an Italian tourist.

QMJHL opts for online draft amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft will be conducted online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The QMJHL said in a statement Wednesday the event scheduled for Sherbrooke's Palais des Sports Leopold-Drolet on June 6 will instead be held remotely due to the novel coronavirus that continues to sweep across the globe.

The league announced Tuesday it was cancelling its remaining regular-season games — the schedule was set to end Saturday — but made no mention of the playoffs. On Wednesday, the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League followed suit.

"When it is safe and we may resume play, we will advise on the status of the 2020 OHL playoffs," he said in an emailed statement.

QMJHL's draft lottery, which was slated for next Wednesday, has been postponed to a later date.

The OHL already conducts its draft remotely and it will go ahead as scheduled on April 4., while the WHL draft is scheduled for May 7 in Red Deer, Alta.

Canada's top junior circuits all suspended operations last week after the NHL, along with most other North American leagues and sports organizations, paused proceedings amid coronavirus pandemic.

Reds' spring training worker tests positive

An employee who worked at the Cincinnati Reds spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., has tested positive for the new coronavirus, the major league team announced Wednesday.

The employee lives in Arizona and has been self-quarantined, along with other members of the Reds staff who were in close contact. The employee worked at the complex from Feb. 29 through March 14.

Major League Baseball has shut down spring training and pushed back the start of the season until at least mid-May because of the pandemic.

While players in the NBA and the NHL have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, no Major League Baseball player is known to have been infected. Two New York Yankees minor leaguers have tested positive for the virus.

Top Italian soccer league likely to resume May 3

Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says the country's top soccer league is likely to resume on May 3 and adds "then we will evaluate whether it's open to the public or not."

Italy was one of the first countries to suspend its soccer leagues because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina says starting on May 3 should allow the league to finish by June 30 but if that's not possible "there must be a change in format."

Gravina also says "a salary cut for soccer players can not be a taboo in this period of emergency."

Track's popular Mt. SAC Relays event axed

A track and field event in California that regularly draws Olympians has been cancelled.

Organizers said the Mt. SAC Relays have been called off as a result of California Gov. Gavin Newsom advising against large public gatherings.

The meet had been set for April 16-18 at Mt. SAC College in Walnut, Calif. The event is known for its elite division, where top athletes typically test their fitness early in the season. In Olympic years, they use the meet to obtain qualifying times.

Belgian soccer teams shut down training

All training sessions at Belgian professional soccer clubs have been suspended until at least April 5 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Belgium's national security council earlier said all gatherings, cultural, social, festive and sporting activities have been prohibited until the same date.

The league says it will decide which matches can be rescheduled once training has resumed.

The league also says it will pay the second instalment of an 800,000 euro ($862,000 US) solidarity fund to amateur clubs to help them cushion the economic weight of the pandemic.

With files from The Canadian Press & Reuters