The Latest: IOC sets aside $800M for loans, payments

NBA

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

The IOC says it is setting aside $800 million for loans and payments arising from the pandemic that forced the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says $150 million will be available for loans to sports governing bodies and national Olympic committees. They were due payments this year for the Tokyo Games, which are now scheduled to open in July 2021.

IOC chief operating officer Lana Haddad says a breakdown of how the $650 million could be allocated will be formulated in the months ahead. It was unclear how much of the money would go to Tokyo organizers.

The Swiss government announced Wednesday that Olympic sports federations based in the country can apply for federal loans. The IOC will put up half the money for those loans, with federal and state authorities providing 25% each.

The Southeastern Conference has formed a task force to advise the league and member schools on decisions about resuming sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force represents the league’s 14 universities.

The group of medical professionals began meeting by video conference in April, the SEC said Thursday. They provide regular updates to SEC presidents, chancellors and athletic directors.

Conference members will have to approve any policy changes related to a return to practices, workouts, meetings and competition.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the task force ”has begun to provide the guidance necessary to make decisions related to the return to athletics activities for SEC student-athletes and to assist in our collaboration with colleague conferences in determining a safe return to athletics competition.”

Orlando became the latest NBA team to reopen its practice facility since the coronavirus shutdown, with Nikola Vucevic among the first Magic players to arrive back for voluntary workouts Thursday.

The Magic released video of Vucevic working with assistant coach Lionel Chalmers, who was in a mask and gloves for the session. The NBA requires anyone who is present for the workouts, except for the player while he is working out, to be wearing personal protective equipment.

”It felt good to be back here and get some work in,” Vucevic said afterward in a message distributed by the team. ”But I still want you guys to stay safe, be smart, listen to the experts. It’s still a dangerous time for everybody. But be safe, listen to the experts and I’ll see you soon.”

Vucevic was averaging 19.5 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Magic when the NBA season was suspended March 11.

The PGA Tour Champions, which already has canceled eight tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has decided to combine 2020 and 2021 into one season.

Tour president Miller Brady says combining two seasons into one is the best solution.

The 50-and-older circuit is scheduled to resume with the Ally Challenge in Michigan on July 31. That would be the first of 13 events remaining this year, barring any delays. The PGA Tour Champions already has lost two majors, the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship, and is waiting to hear the fate of the Senior British Open.

Because of the combined seasons, the postseason events will have 81-player fields and a Charles Schwab Cup champion will not be decided until 2021.

The tour will announce the 2021 schedule later this year.

Spanish second-division club Elche says its players have agreed to return to training after it reinstated their full-time work contracts.

Club CEO Patricia Rodriguez told Spanish news agency EFE Thursday that after negotiating with the squad, the club had agreed to end the work furlough it had been on for two months since the coronavirus pandemic put all league activity on hold.

The players did not return to practice on Wednesday as a protest against salary reductions of 70% imposed under the furlough. Many Spanish clubs have put their players on furlough.

Spanish clubs have returned to training individually at club facilities as they wait for the league to resume play, possibly this summer.

The Southern Conference will cut back on schools qualifying for several championships, cut its league baseball series from three games to two and hold virtual media days for football and basketball.

Those are among several cost-cutting moves announced by the conference because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Division I conference will reduce qualifiers to four for men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball.

Conference commissioner Jim Schaus said league presidents had approved a cost-savings plan for the 2020-21 academic year. Schaus said staff at the conference office will have reduced travel going forward and their salaries will be frozen.

Akron is dropping men’s golf and cross country and women’s tennis in cost-cutting moves due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school said the reduction will take effect at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. Akron will now have seven men’s sports and 10 women’s sports. The school will remain a member of the Mid-American Conference, which announced changes to several conference championships earlier this week.

”These decisions are very difficult but they are important and necessary at this time,” athletic director Larry Williams said. ”This action aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers in the total number of sports and is part of the ongoing effort to redesign the University to ensure that UA continues to invest in high-demand, high-quality academic programs.”

In a news release, the school said it considered factors including program cost, facilities, community impact and future funding.

Atlanta United players Anton Walkes and Fernando Meza say they’re open to the idea of resuming Major League Soccer with all teams playing in the Orlando, Florida, area.

But Walkes said there are a number of issues that must be addressed before such a plan could be approved.

”The safety of everyone is first and foremost,” he said on a video conference call with Atlanta media.

Details of the plan are still under consideration, but the league’s 26 teams and limited staff would likely be sheltered in a resort with games played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. The league suspended play on March 12 after teams had played just two games.

Meza said ”the logistics of it will be challenging.”

Walkes said he’s also concerned about the mental aspect of players being asked to essentially quarantine in one location – especially if it means being without families and friends for potentially several months.

Teams could head to Florida as early as June 1 for training camps. After such a long layoff, Walkes indicated it would likely take at least a month to get in proper playing shape to start up again.

The Austrian soccer league says it is investigating first-place club LASK Linz for breaking rules on training during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs in Austria are only supposed to hold training for small groups of players under social distancing regulations before full training begins Friday.

But the league says it was sent multiple videos showing ”a regular team training session” which supposedly took place ”recently.” LASK has been charged with a violation of fair-play principles. The team could be fined or have points deducted.

Salzburg commercial director Stephan Reiter says the second-place club is ”shocked and stunned” at LASK’s conduct.

Soccer is scheduled to resume in the country with the Austrian Cup final on May 29 before the league starts up again next month.

Ireland has postponed its limited-overs cricket matches against New Zealand and Pakistan in June and July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand Cricket informed Cricket Ireland this week it couldn’t travel and the latter has confirmed putting off the matches in Northern Ireland. The teams were to meet for three Twenty20s in Bready and three one-day internationals in Belfast from June 19 to July 2.

Restrictions on travel and professional sports also forced Cricket Ireland to postpone hosting Pakistan in two T20s on July 12 and 14.

The Netherlands legs of both tours by New Zealand and Pakistan had already been curtailed last month after the Dutch government banned all big sports events until Sept. 1.

Pakistan is still scheduled to tour England for three tests and three T20s from July 30 to Sept. 2.

Cricket Ireland says it is talking with England officials about possibly rescheduling their three ODIs in September in England.

Udinese owner Gianpaolo Pozzo says it ”wouldn’t make sense” to restart Serie A anytime soon.

Pozzo says it’s better to wait until ”we’ve passed the critical phase” before thinking about restarting.

He says if a team is ordered into quarantine after playing two or three matches because a player tests positive and the season is stopped again ”we’ll have made a huge mistake.”

Udinese was three points above the relegation zone in 14th place before Serie A was suspended on March 9.

The Italian soccer federation has set up a pool of inspectors to check that teams comply with new health protocols and government decrees issued during the coronavirus pandemic.

Serie A teams were permitted to resume individual training on May 4 while full team training can restart Monday.

Lazio has reportedly already been training in groups of three players. The federation says inspectors will verify that practices are held according to the rules.

The league said on Wednesday that it hopes to resume playing games on June 13 but the government has not approved a restart yet.

Turkish soccer club Besiktas says eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus and training has been suspended.

The club says president Ahmet Nar Cebi and a player were among those who tested positive.

Turkish teams have resumed limited training sessions following the federation’s decision to restart matches in empty stadiums on June 12.

The three leading women’s pole vaulters get their turn to compete on Saturday in the second edition of the Ultimate Garden Clash.

Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, Katie Nageotte of the United States and Alysha Newman of Canada will participate in the event but won’t be competing in their backyards because they don’t have the equipment at home. They will instead be at nearby training facilities.

The top men’s pole vaulters competed in the Ultimate Garden Clash at their homes in early May. Mondo Duplantis and Renaud Lavillenie shared the victory with more than 250,000 people watching a live stream.

The winner on Saturday will be the vaulter who clears the bar at 4 meters the most times in 30 minutes.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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