Sports

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

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

Already-qualified athletes will keep spots at postponed Tokyo Games

(Illustration by Steve Tzemis/CBC)

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

  • Hard work won't go to waste for already-qualified athletes
  • Health officials clear Rudy Gobert, Jazz players
  • Russians suspend doping testing amid outbreak
  • World series triathlon in Montreal postponed
  • World ski body postpones presidential election
  • Diamond League postpones three more track events
  • Djokovic makes large pledge to help fight virus in Serbia
  • Barca, Atleti to reduce payroll during coronavirus stoppage

Almost '100 per cent' chance NBA resumes without fans: report

If the NBA regular season resumes, it is almost "100 per cent" the games will be played without fans present, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Friday.

Windhorst said the NBA will very likely mimic the plan being used in China for a potential end to the current hiatus, which began March 12. In China, ground zero for the coronavirus in recent months, the plan for professional basketball to resume includes keeping players in a centralized, isolated location or shared hotel to limit the chance they come in contact with any infected person.

Ideas being floated include playing all the games at a neutral site, such as Las Vegas, the Bahamas or even a college campus in the Midwest where the outbreak, to this point, has been mild, according to the report. The idea would be to refit a casino or grand ballroom of a resort into made-for-TV events.

Hard work won't go to waste for Olympic-bound athletes

All athletes who had qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will keep their spots for the Games next year following their postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.

The IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the July 24-Aug 9 event earlier this week but confirmed that those among the 11,000 athletes set to compete in Tokyo who had already earned their spot would keep it.

The IOC also said that the amount of spots allocated for each sport at the Games would remain the same next year.

Health officials clear Rudy Gobert, Jazz players

Utah Jazz players and staff have been cleared of the coronavirus.

"The Utah Department of Health has determined that all Jazz players and staff, regardless of prior testing status, no longer pose a risk of infection to others," the team said in a statement.

The NBA suspended play after Utah centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11. His teammate, fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive for the coronavirus.

The players and staff members went through isolation and quarantine, as required, the team said. They will practice social distancing and limit their time outside their homes to "essential activities."

Russia temporarily halts doping tests for athletes

The Russian anti-doping agency is suspending all tests for 10 days in response to measures implemented by the government to fight the coronavirus.

The move comes after President Vladimir Putin told Russians except those working in essential sectors to stay home next week.

RUSADA deputy CEO Margarita Pahnotskaya tells The Associated Press the testing suspension covers a longer period because of the risk of staff being stranded away from home. Tests stopped Friday and will resume on April 6.

Pakhnotskaya says the World Anti-Doping Agency has been notified.

Track worlds in limbo until new Olympic dates set

The date of the next world track championships is in limbo until the International Olympic Committee decides on a new schedule for the postponed Tokyo Games.

Sebastian Coe, the Olympic great who is now president of World Athletics, said Friday there are plenty of options for rescheduling next year's world championships in Eugene, Oregon, but at the moment they all depend on the IOC.

"The International Olympic Committee, from our discussions yesterday, and the one-on-one discussions that will have already started this morning, are conscious that they need to make that decision quickly. We need athletes with some certainty," Coe said in an online video conference call.

"And of course, the rest of the jigsaw doesn't make a great deal of sense until you've got the one big centerpiece in there, and then we can start building constructively around the edges of it."

The Olympics were postponed on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the IOC saying the Tokyo Games would now take place sometime in 2021. Although it's likely the games will be pushed back to the same slot in 2021 as it would have occupied this year, that decision hasn't yet been finalized.

Broadcaster Doris Burke tested positive for COVID-19, now symptom-free

ESPN broadcaster Doris Burke tested positive for COVID-19, but she said she is now symptom-free.

Burke shared the information Friday on "The Woj Pod" with ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski. Burke said it took eight days for her test results to come back.

She began feeling symptoms associated with the coronavirus on March 11. Burke was broadcasting a game in Dallas that night when news broke that the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, which triggered a suspension of the NBA season that kicked in after the Mavericks beat the visiting Denver Nuggets 113-97.

Before the game, Burke recalled her mindset was, "'Man, I am so tired right now and my head is pounding.' And looking back, those were my symptoms. And we've heard so much about shortness of breath, fever, tightness in your chest, chills, body aches, etc. ... That really was my primary symptom throughout this was this extraordinary fatigue."

World series triathlon in Montreal postponed

The world series triathlon in Montreal in June was postponed on Friday, a day after Canada closed its borders to June 30 to all foreigners except Americans.

The Montreal elite races were scheduled for June 28.

It's the fourth race in triathlon's premier series to be postponed. The leg in Yokohama, Japan, in May is still scheduled to go ahead.

World ski body postpones presidential election

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has postponed its presidential election at a biennial congress for at least three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hosts for some world championships, including Alpine skiing in 2025, were also due to be voted on at May 17-23 meetings in Thailand.

FIS says it hopes to reschedule "in the autumn [fall] of this year," possibly at a different location.

Candidates to succeed 22-year incumbent Gian Franco Kasper as president, and for seats on the FIS ruling council, must be declared 30 days before the rescheduled elections.

The three candidates for Alpine worlds in 2025 are: Saalbach, Austria; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Trio of Diamond League track and field events postponed

The events in Stockholm on May 24, Naples and Rome on May 28, and Rabat, Morocco, on May 31 have all been postponed with no new dates set.

The first six events of the year have been called off and only the Shanghai meet has been given a new date. The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on June 7 is now the first scheduled event on the calendar.

The Diamond League says "the meeting organizers, the Wanda Diamond League and World Athletics remain committed to delivering a structured extensive season in 2020."

Tennis star makes donation to relief efforts in Serbia

Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic pledged one million euros ($1.10 million US) to help buy ventilators and other medical equipment in his native Serbia on Friday, joining a list of other athletes in the fight against coronavirus.

Rafa Nadal had called on Spanish athletes to help raise 11 million euros ($12.13 million) to help fight the pandemic while Roger Federer contributed one million Swiss Francs ($1.04 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.

"I wish to express my gratitude to all the medical staff across the world and in my native Serbia for helping everyone infected by the coronavirus," Djokovic told Serbian media over a video conference from Marbella, Spain.

"Unfortunately, more and more people are getting infected every day. My wife Jelena and I are putting together a plan how to best donate our resources to people in need.

Barca, Atleti to reduce payroll during coronavirus stoppage

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will reduce the salaries of their players amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Barcelona said late Thursday that its executive board decided to temporarily suspend player contracts, which leads to a "proportional reduction of the remuneration provided for in the respective contracts."

Atletico followed suit on Friday, saying the move was necessary to "to ensure the future" of the club.

The player contracts will remain intact during the suspension. Employers in Spain are allowed to reduce labour costs while guaranteeing that workers will return to their jobs once conditions improve.

The clubs did not reveal by how much the salaries will be lowered.

The Spanish league stopped play two weeks ago because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Evian Championship moved to August

Evian Championship, the fourth women's golf major of the year, has been moved to August from July due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament, due to take place at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France, is the second women's major to be disrupted by the pandemic after the ANA Inspiration major scheduled for California early next month was moved to September.

Originally scheduled for July 23-26, the event will now be played on Aug. 6-9. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021 created a window for organizers to hold the event a week before the Ladies Scottish Open in North Berwick.

"This adjustment makes for easier travel for players and assists us as we look to reschedule previously postponed events during a crowded summer and fall time frame," LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement 

The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the global sporting calendar and a number of golf events that were to be held between April and June have been postponed, including three of the men's majors — the Masters, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.

With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and Field Level Media

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