Coronavirus cancellations and reactions in sports

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As COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus, has spread around the globe in recent months, tournaments, games and other sporting events have been canceled, while others have been modified. On Wednesday night, the NBA season was suspended, and on Thursday, the NCAA canceled all remaining spring and winter championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. MLB has canceled the remainder of spring training, and Opening Day has been delayed at least two weeks. The NHL has also suspended play immediately and golf’s first major tournament of the year, the Masters, has been postponed. The Boston Marathon will delay its race until Sept. 14 and the London Marathon has been postponed from April 26 to Oct. 4.

Here’s a look at how the coronavirus is affecting sports in the U.S. and around the world:

  • List of sporting events canceled because of coronavirus

  • From FiveThirtyEight: How sports leagues are reacting to coronavirus

  • What to watch while sports are on hiatus

NCAA

Basketballs are removed after the Big Ten announced that the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament was canceled. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The NCAA has called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as part of a complete cancellation of all remaining spring and winter championships. The announcement is an abrupt end to a basketball season that had less than a month to go before champions were to be crowned. Here’s everything we know and don’t know after the cancellations, and some of the possible storylines we’ll miss in the 2020 NCAA tournament. But brackets will not be released.

On what would have been Selection Sunday, in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN, NCAA president Mark Emmert detailed how the decision was ultimately made to cancel this year’s NCAA tournament.

In college football, Michigan and Penn State have become two of the first major programs to cancel or postpone their pro days. And Michigan and Ohio State are among the programs that have canceled their annual spring games.

Could seniors get another year of eligibility? Some suggested as much on social media, as the college sports world grappled with the cancellations. The NCAA Division I Council Committee has recommended that student-athletes who participate in spring sports should be provided eligibility relief.

NBA

Fans leave after being told the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz game had been canceled. Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports

Two Utah Jazz players — Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday. Gobert’s diagnosis led to the postponement of Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The NBA announced Wednesday night that it was suspending the season “until further notice,” and players the Jazz faced within the past 10 days have been told to self-isolate. In those 10 days, Utah played the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.

NBA owners and executives are bracing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for the league’s return, sources told ESPN on Sunday. The NBA says players can leave cities during the league’s hiatus. When is the NBA likely to return? Here are the latest updates.

In a correspondence to players, the NBPA on Friday spelled out terms of a doomsday provision included in the collective bargaining agreement that could free owners from paying players a percentage of their salaries should the rest of the season be lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a look inside the NBA coronavirus shutdown — how a few tense hours changed everything. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson became the latest NBA stars to make donations to aid arena staff that will be unable to work while the season is suspended.

MLB

On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced it was delaying the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks, and that spring training games had been suspended, starting at 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

“MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible,” MLB said in its statement.

Here’s the latest we’re hearing on when MLB could actually return.

MLB had been scheduled to open its season March 26, with all 30 teams in action. Here’s how MLB players, execs and others are facing coronavirus uncertainty.

NHL

Seats are sanitized prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks on March 11. Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

On Thursday, the NHL suspended play immediately. But sources told ESPN the NHL hopes to resume its schedule in the future. There are 189 games and three and a half weeks remaining in the NHL’s regular season. There had been 10 games on the NHL slate Thursday before the suspension.

Here’s what a pause on the NHL season means going forward.

NFL

The NFL still plans to hold the 2020 draft as scheduled in April, but public draft events in Las Vegas will not take place.

Last week, the league said it had “no plans to move the start of the league year” but canceled its annual meeting scheduled for March 29 through April 1 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

World football

Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain line up before playing a Champions League match without fans on March 11. UEFA via Getty Images

Euro 2020 will be postponed until 2021 after UEFA reached an agreement with key governing bodies on Tuesday. On the same day, CONMEBOL announced that the Copa America has been postponed until 2021.

UEFA has taken the unprecedented step of suspending the Champions League and Europa League. Sources have told ESPN that UEFA are considering staging one-legged knockout ties in the Champions League, then playing the semifinals and finals over two weekends in Istanbul.

The Premier League season has been suspended until at least April 3. In addition, the English Football League announced the suspension of the Women’s Super League, the Women’s Championship, the Championship, League 1 and League 2 in England until April 3.

La Liga in Spain is now suspended, as is Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in France. The Football Association in Wales and the Scottish Football Association both suspended all domestic activity on Friday.

The top two divisions of football in Germany and France have also been suspended. The French Football Federation (FFF) and the Professional Football League (LFP) suspended all football from the men’s semi-professional third tier downward — as well as all three women’s leagues.

The African soccer federation has paused all games in African competition including qualifiers for next year’s African Cup of Nations.

A friendly between Germany and Italy due to be held in Nuremberg, Germany on March 31 has been cancelled.

In North America, Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days, and the United States Soccer Federation moved to cancel games for both the men’s and women’s teams. Mexico has canceled friendlies scheduled to take place in the U.S. All CONCACAF competitions have been suspended, including the Champions League and Olympic qualifying set for the end of March in Guadalajara, Mexico. On Sunday, Liga MX announced it would suspend all play until further notice following the day’s matches.

Tennis

The French Open has been postponed, and will now run from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4. It is the first Grand Slam tennis tournament affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Association of Tennis Professionals has suspended its tour for six weeks due to escalating concerns. The Women’s Tennis Association also canceled the Volvo Car Open, scheduled to begin April 4 in Charleston, South Carolina and on Monday, suspended its tour until May 2.

Serena Williams says she will be spending the next six weeks in “solitude.”

Horse racing

Churchill Downs has announced that the 146th Kentucky Derby will be moved from May 2 to Sept 5.

Olympic sports

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were one of the first big sporting events thrown into question due to the coronavirus. The leader of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics said there is no May deadline to cancel the games and he remains confident the event will go ahead. Some countries said they would not partake in any qualifying events, including the International Judo Federation. FINA postponed Olympic water sports qualifying events, including the Diving World Series and the Water Polo World League. The Olympic torch was lit in Athens, Greece with no spectators. Organizers announced that the Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 20, would be postponed until September.

XFL

A stadium employee who worked at the XFL’s Seattle Dragons home game on Feb. 22 at CenturyLink Field tested positive for the coronavirus, King County health officials announced on March 5.

After other sports leagues postponed their seasons, the XFL followed suit Thursday. The XFL completed only half of its scheduled 10-week season before being canceled. The league was in its first season since it folded in 2011, and there was no word on what would happen with playoffs. All players will be paid their base pay and benefits for the regular season, and players are also now able to sign with an NFL team.

esports

Many esports tournaments and events have been postponed or canceled, while some events will still go forward, but without public entry or a live audience. One major example: All remaining Overwatch League events in March and April have been canceled.

MMA

The UFC has postponed its next three events which were scheduled for March 21, March 28 and April 11. UFC president made the announcement Monday via an email to all staff. The UFC has also closed its executive offices in Las Vegas.

The UFC’s next pay-per-view event is scheduled to take place April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. According to the email, the UFC still plans to promote that event for now, either taking place in New York or elsewhere.

WWE

The biggest WWE event of the year, WrestleMania, is still on. However, it will be without fans on April 5. It is no longer at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., but rather at the WWE training facility in Orlando. Other events scheduled in Tampa around WrestleMania have also been canceled.

WWE has also temporarily moved its television shows to the WWE Performance Center facility, including Raw on Mondays and SmackDown on Fridays, without spectators.

Formula One

Formula One postponed races in Bahrain and Vietnam and instead expects to begin its season at the end of May at the Monaco Grand Prix.

F1 also already had called off the Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of its 2020 season. The move comes after a McLaren team member tested positive for the coronavirus on March 12.

Golf

The PGA Tour originally said Tuesday it had no plans to cancel events, but late Thursday, tour officials canceled the Players Championship after the first round. The tour also announced it would be canceling the next three events on the PGA Tour schedule: the Vaspar Championship, the WGC-Dell Technologies Championship and the Valero Texas Open. And on Friday, the Masters — the first major tournament of the year — was officially postponed.

Could the Masters actually be canceled? Here’s what the postponement of the year’s first major golf championship means.

NASCAR

NASCAR will be off for the next two weekends after postponing the Atlanta and Homestead races because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Rugby

France vs. Ireland, Italy vs. England and Wales vs. Scotland have been postponed in the Six Nations. The organizers of the PRO14 have suspended the competition indefinitely while the Irish Rugby Football Union and the French Rugby Federation have both suspended all domestic activity as of Friday.

Source: espn.com

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