Coronavirus: Here's what happened in the sports world on Tuesday
Opening day in Korea with unoccupied seats and umpires, coaches wearing masks
The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:
- Baseball begins in Korea with coaches wearing masks
- Spruce Meadows cancels Masters show jumping
- Spanish tennis club mistakenly allowed Djokovic to train
- NWSL players allowed to train at team facilities Wednesday
- Poll: U.S. fans on board with sports in empty venues
- German soccer team in isolation after player tests positive
- Cycling's Giro d'Italia, Spanish Vuelta to be held in October
Korean baseball league begins in empty stadiums
The new baseball season began Tuesday in South Korea with the crack of the bat and the sound of the ball smacking into the catcher's mitt echoing around empty stadiums.
After a weeks-long delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, umpires wore protective masks and cheerleaders danced beneath rows of unoccupied seats as professional baseball got back on the field.
There were many faces in the stands in at least one stadium, but they were pictures instead of real people because fans aren't allowed into the venues, at least for now.
Instead, it was easy to hear players cheering and shouting from the dugouts. And it was a relief to fans watching from home in a country that is now attempting to slowly return to pre-COVID-19 normalcy amid a waning caseload.
Players and coaches will go through fever screenings before entering stadiums, while umpires and first- and third-base coaches must wear masks during games. Players are prohibited from signing autographs or high-fiving teammates with bare hands.
Spruce Meadows cancels Masters show jumping event
Spruce Meadows has cancelled its marquee Masters show jumping tournament scheduled for September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The equestrian and soccer facility in Calgary had already called off its summer competitive season that features four tournaments over five weeks starting June 4. The Masters was scheduled for Sept. 9-13.
Spruce Meadows planned to offer $6 million in prize money in 2020. The tournament season draws almost half a million spectators annually to watch the top horses and riders in the world.
Spruce Meadows, founded by Ron and Margaret Southern, opened in 1975 and continues to be run by the family.
The virus that has infected almost 6,000 people and killed 104 in Alberta is concentrated in the Calgary area, where 70 have died and almost 4,000 have been infected.
NFL plots out ticket refund plan: report
Two days before the NFL is set to release its 2020 regular-season schedule, football fans got even more good news Tuesday — especially those looking to buy tickets.
According to multiple reports, the NFL issued a memo to all 32 clubs telling them that for any game canceled or played without fans in attendance, clubs will be required to offer a full refund or apply the amount paid as a credit toward a future ticket to be bought directly through the team.
The NFL plans on announcing the full regular-season schedule in a three-hour, prime-time TV show on Thursday. The matchups for all teams' games will be revealed, division by division, with NFL Network analysts providing commentary. At the same time, all game sites and kickoff times will be posted on the NFL app and NFL.com.
The league announced Monday that all 2020 games originally scheduled for London and Mexico City will be held in the United States.
Mountain bike World Cup race in Quebec scrapped
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event scheduled this summer in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que., has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fifth stop on the 2020 World Cup series was set to take place Aug. 21-23. Mont-Sainte-Anne had hosted a UCI-sponsored event every year since 1991, including the mountain bike world championships in 2010 and 2019.
Quebec has prohibited events from being held until Aug. 31.
Gabriel Fontaine Leclerc, general manager of event producer Gestev, said plans to reschedule the race in the fall were not feasible.
Tennis club mistakenly allowed Djokovic to train
The tennis club where Novak Djokovic broke confinement rules in Spain says it mistakenly authorized the player to practice.
The top-ranked Djokovic published a video of himself training in Marbella on Monday, in apparent violation of Spain's current rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Spain has eased some of the lockdown measures that have been in place since mid-March, allowing professional athletes to start training again individually. But most training centres and sports facilities must remain closed until next week.
The Spanish tennis federation says players are not yet allowed to practice on courts. The club says it was "sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous."
NWSL to permit individual workouts starting Wednesday
The National Women's Soccer League will allow players to train using team's outdoor facilities beginning Wednesday.
The league's season was due to kick off April 18, but all matches were postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move to allow players back onto team training grounds is the initial stage of the NWSL's Return to Play Phased Protocol.
Players will undergo daily symptoms screenings before they will be allowed into team facilities. Commonly touched places at club sites also will be thoroughly cleaned daily.
The league-wide ban on full-team training sessions remains in effect through May 15.
Tennis world commits over $6M US million for relief program
Tennis's governing bodies and the organizers of the four Grand Slams said on Tuesday they will raise over $6 million US to help players affected by the sport's current shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The player relief program will target about 800 singles and doubles players collectively on the men's and women's tours, who are in need of financial support.
"The creation of the player relief program is a positive demonstration of the sport's ability to come together during this time of crisis," the governing bodies of world tennis, including the ATP and WTA, along with the International Tennis Federation, said in a joint statement.
"We will continue to collaborate and monitor the support required across tennis with the aim of ensuring the long-term health of the sport in the midst of this unprecedented challenge to our way of life, and our thoughts remain with all those affected at this time."
U.S. poll shows fans OK with sports in empty venues
Most fans would prefer to see sports return to action even if spectators aren't allowed into the stands, according to poll results that were released Monday.
The ESPN Coronavirus Lockdown Fan Study found that 65 per cent of fans would favour competition resuming even if fans can't attend.
The poll of 1,004 U.S. adult sports fans was commissioned by ESPN Research & Insights and conducted by Global Strategy Group from April 17-20.
Virtually all U.S. sports competitions have been shut down since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
German soccer club goes into isolation
Second-division German soccer club Erzgebirge Aue has put its entire squad in home isolation after a member of staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
It's the first confirmed case in the German league's second round of testing. It comes a day before a government meeting on loosening lockdown measures to pave the way for soccer to return in empty stadiums.
Aue didn't name the staff member involved. All players, coaches and backroom staff will stay at home ahead of more coronavirus testing on Thursday.
Ten people tested positive last week from the 36 clubs in the top two men's divisions. That included two Cologne players and a staff member. The club did not put its squad in isolation.
Cycling's Giro d'Italia, Spanish Vuelta set for October
Cycling's Giro d'Italia will start on Oct. 3 and the Spanish Vuelta will be held from Oct. 20, the International Cycling Union said Tuesday, as it published its heavily revised calendar in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
A number of the top one-day races will also be held in October, making for a frantic month of cycling following the pandemic that has brought almost all of world sport to a halt since March.
The Milan-San Remo race will be held on Aug. 8, Liege-Bastogne-Liege will run on Oct. 4, the Tour des Flandres on Oct. 18, Paris-Roubaix on Oct. 25 and the Tour of Lombardy on Oct. 31.
The UCI last month said that the Tour de France would be held from Aug. 29-Sept. 20 after the governing body suspended elite racing until Aug. 1.
The Giro will be held over 23 days ending on Oct. 25, while the Vuelta is set to end on Nov. 8 after the first three stages due to be hosted in the Netherlands were cut from the program by the organizers.
European swimming championships moved to 2021
The European Aquatics Championships, scheduled to be held from May 11 to 24 in Budapest, have been pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European governing body for aquatic sports said Tuesday.
The championships, which include disciplines such as swimming, diving, open water swimming, and artistic synchronized swimming, had been provisionally delayed until late August but will now take place from May 10 to 23 next year.
The governing body said it had canceled the European water polo season including the 2019-2020 Water Polo Champions Leagues, the 2019-2020 Water Polo Euro League Women and the 2019-2020 Water Polo Euro Cup.
Belgian players, fans engage in virtual wave
Belgian soccer players and their fans are engaging in a virtual wave to support health care workers and raise money for the Red Cross amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Belgian soccer association is encouraging fans to upload short videos of them doing the wave. Just like Belgium internationals Dries Mertens, Thomas Meunier and Jan Vertonghen.
The association is giving fans the opportunity to upload videos until June 13. That is the date Belgium was set to play its first game at the European Championship. The tournament was postponed by a year because of the pandemic.
Lower level English clubs appeal for bailout
The head of the three English professional soccer leagues below the Premier League appealed for a "rescue package" during questioning at a parliamentary select committee hearing.
English Football League chairman Rick Parry says clubs are facing a shortfall of about $250 million US because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Parry says "we are heading for a financial hole of about 200 million pounds ... by the end of September."
Parry also advocated for salary caps. He told legislators that clubs are spending too much of their turnover on salaries as they chase promotion.
Clubs are preparing for the loss of ticket revenue with crowds potentially not allowed back into stadiums in 2020.
With files from The Canadian Press and Reuters