The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania is working on guidelines to allow sporting events and exhibitions to get back to “some semblance of normalcy” after practically everything shut down to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday.
On a conference call with reporters, Wolf said he’s been in touch with major professional organizations including NASCAR, the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball and others to figure out how they can resume competition in the state.
He said he expected his administration will, in the coming days, decide on guidelines for various venues, sports and activities going forward. But, he said, the ultimate success of events and leagues will rest on whether people feel safe enough to attend and participate.
“In the end, the ultimate arbiter of our fate here when it comes to sporting events are going to be individuals who want to participate, individuals who want to be part of sports, whether it’s amateur or professional,” Wolf said. “And we’ve got to make sure that we give them the confidence to then go to these sporting events and feel safe, that they’re not taking their lives or health into their hands.”
The men’s professional tennis tour is offering mental health support to players by partnering with a group founded by former England and Arsenal soccer player Tony Adams.
The ATP says it will be working with Adams’ Sporting Chance to provide a 24-7 helpline with therapists.
The tour is also offering players and employees free subscriptions to Headspace, which offers content about mindfulness and meditation.
ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi says this sort of help is important during the current coronavirus outbreak.
“Everyone has been adapting to periods of self-isolation and decreased physical activity during the pandemic,” Gaudenzi says, “but this can have a particularly detrimental effect on professional athletes who are used to particular training structure and playing day in day out.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says youth sports in the state can begin practicing on May 30, with games to start no earlier than June 15.
McMaster says proper social distancing guidelines and health practices must been in effect at practices, warmups and games. The sports involved include American Legion baseball, Little League baseball, Dixie Youth baseball, travel baseball, youth and adult softball, kickball, soccer, lacrosse and flag football.
Guidance by state leaders says coaches and players on the bench should be encouraged to wear face coverings; players, coaches and officials should bring their own water bottles; and there should be no handshakes, high-fives or fist bumps before, during or after games.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says he thinks football games can be played in Ohio Stadium this fall with 20,000 to 30,000 fans in the stands.
Smith thinks that number of fans could be kept at a safe distance from one another in the stadium, which seats about 105,000. Face masks and other precautions would be required to limit the spread of COVID-19. He says he hasn’t figured out yet how spectators would be chosen from among those wanting tickets.
Smith also says Ohio State is ready to open the 15,000-square-foot Woody Hayes Athletic Center to student-athletes starting June 8 if the NCAA allows it. About 10 players at a time would be allowed to work out on staggered scheduled with social-distancing and other hygiene precautions in place. Some coaches returned to the complex on a limited basis this week.
A year ago at this time, American teenager Amanda Anisimova was getting ready to play at the clay-court French Open, where she ended up reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal.
Now she’s preparing for a four-woman, round-robin event with no spectators on a hard court at a private home in West Palm Beach, Florida.
It’s a chance for Anisimova to play tennis amid the coronavirus pandemic with some money, albeit no WTA ranking points, on the line — and for fans to watch live tennis on television.
Anisimova, who is ranked 28th, will be joined by No. 19 Alison Riske, No. 51 Danielle Collins and No. 56 Ajla Tomljanovic at the made-for-TV event scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
“It’s the closest thing we can get to competing nowadays,” Tomljanovic said on a video conference, “and I think we’ve all missed what we’ve known for all our lives, really.”
They’ll be playing on the same court — and with the same social-distancing and cleaning measures —used earlier this month for a four-man event won by Reilly Opelka.
The professional tours are on hiatus at least until late July because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The French Open, which was supposed to start Sunday in Paris, has been postponed until September.
The American Athletic Conference is forming a COVID-19 medical advisory group that will be chaired by Tulane director of sports medicine Greg Stewart.
The group will include medical professionals from each of the conference’s member schools. Committee members will provide guidance, assistance and recommendations to schools on the best practices and protocols for a safe return to competition for student-athletes while also protecting the health and safety of everyone concerned.
The AAC already has announced the cancellation of its annual summer kickoff and media days event at Newport, Rhode Island. The league instead will conduct its media days event virtually on a date to be determined.
The German soccer federation says the country’s top women’s league will resume May 29 after nearly three months without games.
The 12-team league has six rounds of games to play before the planned finish June 28.
No games have been played since March 1. Wolfsburg leads the league by eight points ahead of Bayern Munich and is on target for its fourth consecutive national title.
The federation says the women’s German cup final will end the season in Cologne on July 4.
Also Wednesday, the men’s league confirmed plans to finish June 27 after scheduling all remaining games. It also said there will be a minute of remembrance for victims of the coronavirus pandemic before all games in the next two rounds and that players will wear black armbands.
The French soccer league has agreed on a 22-team second division for next season, meaning no team will be relegated after play was stopped because of the pandemic.
The French league’s board of directors reached the decision by an electronic vote, allowing Le Mans and Orléans to stay in the second tier while Pau and Dunkerque are promoted from the third tier. The top French leagues normally have 20 teams.
The French government decided in April that the domestic soccer and rugby leagues were to be canceled because of the coronavirus.
Paris Saint-Germain was declared the first-division champion while Amiens and Toulouse were relegated to the second tier.
Amiens has taken legal action against that decision and is also pushing for a 22-team top flight next season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are poised to reopen their practice facility. They will schedule voluntary sessions for players starting Thursday.
About half of NBA teams have begun arranging workouts, since Commissioner Adam Silver gave the go-ahead two weeks ago, subject to state and local guidelines.
Only one coach and one player will be allowed on the court at Mayo Clinic Square, across the street from Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. They’ll be required to stay 12 feet apart. Workouts will be limited to 45 minutes, and areas beyond the court will remain closed. Staff members in the building must wear gloves and masks at all times. Players must wear masks, too, except when on the court. Symptom and temperature checks and contact tracing will also be conducted by team medical staff upon entry into the facility.
“Being able to come in and do something basketball-related is, frankly, a release for a lot of players, especially at a time where they’ve been cooped up for a while. I think they want to do something,” Timberwolves vice president for basketball performance and technology Robby Sikka said. “But our first priority is their safety and their welfare.”
Former England soccer player Alex Scott will join a government task force that will examine ways for sports to resume in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Women’s Super League season looks as if it’s being curtailed, the men’s Premier League still hopes to resume next month.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says Scott “will help us think through how we can get sport back safely in a way that helps both clubs, players and supporters alike.”
Scott has been working as a television presenter and soccer pundit since retiring from playing in 2017.
At a Downing Street news conference, Dowden also said he hopes some Premier League games will be available for free on television if the season can resume because fans won’t be allowed to attend.
All 380 Premier League games are aired globally apart from in Britain, where only 200 a season are broadcast live on pay TV to ensure fans still attend games.
Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz has donated a total of $200,000 to five communities to assist with the coronavirus response.
Conley’s donation will go toward addressing food insecurity, homelessness and remote learning needs.
He is giving to the Utah Food Bank in Salt Lake City; CodeCrew in Memphis, Tennessee; Community Shelter Board and the Columbus Urban League in Columbus, Ohio; the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation in Indianapolis; and the New Haven Missionary Baptist Church in West Helena, Arkansas.
Conley says the pandemic “has reminded me that I am in this position because of the support and sacrifices of others I’ve encountered all along the way. I wanted to be there for the communities that have been fundamental to my personal growth.”
If Major League Soccer resumes its season, it surely will be without fans in the stands.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan says that would be a huge blow to Atlanta United.
The franchise has set numerous attendance records since joining MLS in 2017, averaging more than 50,000 per league game each of the last two seasons. Atlanta drew an announced crowd of 69,301 for this year’s opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the season was shut down a few days later because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re lucky with the support and atmosphere and energy that’s created in our stadium,” Guzan said on a video conference call with Atlanta media. “We’re all eager to get back, but we have to get back in a safe and responsible way. If that means fans can’t take part, that’s a massive blow to us. That’s certainly something we feed off of on game day.”
Guzan expressed some skepticism about the idea of resuming the season with all teams based in Orlando, a proposal that has been floated as the best way to get the season going again after a two-month layoff.
“A lot of questions have to be answered from a league perspective before something like that can take place,” Guzan said. “I don’t think it would be for every game left in the season. I don’t think you can ask the players to relocate to another city for the rest of the season.”
The Italian soccer federation has given the country’s top three leagues until Aug. 20 to complete their seasons.
The federation has also come up with alternative plans if the leagues have to be halted again because of the coronavirus pandemic. They could resort to playoffs or decide positions by applying coeffecients.
The following season is now scheduled to start on Sept. 1.
Serie A has been suspended since March 9. There are 12 rounds remaining in the league and the Italian Cup is in the semifinal stage.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says being back in group training with some of his players “felt like the first day in school.”
The Premier League leaders were among the English clubs undertaking staggered workouts in small groups following a relaxation of national lockdown regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those at the practice session at Liverpool’s training complex were still required to maintain social distancing. Video footage showed Mohamed Salah giving the thumbs-up before swerving to avoid Klopp as the forward ran onto the field to join teammates.
Klopp compared the current period to a pre-season and is keeping things simple to start off with despite saying his players are “in good shape.”
The German coach says the players are “getting used to the pitch, boots and ball, turns, passes, half-passes, softer passes, running, little accelerations and stuff like that.”
Liverpool leads the Premier League by 25 points and needs to win two more games to clinch its first league title since 1990.
The Kentucky-Michigan college basketball matchup scheduled for Dec. 6 in London has been postponed until 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic. And the three-game series has been restructured.
The schools were scheduled to highlight the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase doubleheader at the O2 Arena. The series also included Marist against UMBC. Michigan will now host the Wildcats on Dec. 4 in Ann Arbor before the schools meet in London one year later. Kentucky will host the Wolverines in Lexington on Dec. 2, 2023.
Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame President & CEO John L. Doleva says in a statement that the “unknown combination” of health, safety, international travel regulations and the economic viabilities for all parties required postponing the event.
Kentucky coach John Calipari says he is disappointed to not go to London and looked forward to meeting Queen Elizabeth II.
“But I’m glad we were all able to come together, figure this out and preserve this series for the future,” Calipari says.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard says: “The Hall of Fame took the time to review what is happening around the world and explore all options — all the safe options for the teams and most importantly the fans. The best thing is this tremendous event isn’t canceled, it’s just delayed.”
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