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Coronavirus latest: How global health pandemic is impacting sports

The coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 has spread across the globe, infecting more than 292,500 people in at least 154 countries and claiming more than 12,700 lives as of March 21.

The advancement of the virus is impacting global commerce, stirring financial turmoil and providing pause as people consider exposing themselves to public settings such as air travel, concerts and festivals. The World Health Organization considers COVID-19 a pandemic.

The sports world is witnessing a significant impact as governments and managing bodies grapple with how to handle high-profile events that draw big crowds. Some events are being canceled. Others are being contested in empty stadiums. Others are going on as planned.

Yahoo Sports is tracking the news and will continue to update this story with the latest on how the coronavirus is affecting sports.

Canceled/postponed sporting events amid coronavirus pandemic

2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021; NBA season suspended; MLS season suspended; NHL season suspended; MLB spring training suspended, opening day delayed; fan festivities at NFL draft in Las Vegas; start of MiLB season delayed; NCAA tournament canceled — both the men’s and women’s tournament — and all spring and winter NCAA championships; XFL suspended; Premier League suspended; Masters Tournament postponed; Kentucky Derby postponed; Ivy League conference tournament; BNP Paribas Open (tennis); Serie A; Nippon Professional Baseball and KBO Opening Day; the next three LPGA events —the Volvik Founders Cup, the Kia Classic and the ANA Inspiration; MotoGP Grand Prix of Americas; New York half marathon; 2020 McDonald’s All American Games; Bahrain Grand Prix and Vietnam Grand Prix (F1); University of Cincinnati spring football game; USOC media summit; Combate Americas (MMA); E32020 (esports); all NESCAC spring sports; the College Basketball Invitational; FIS Women’s World Cup races; all Ivy League spring sports; La Liga; Homestead-Miami Speedway NASCAR races; all Patriot League spring sports; ATP men’s tennis tour; ACC, AAC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC tournaments; all combat sports in California; Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach; The Players Championship, Valspar Championship, WGC-Match Play, Valero Texas Open; Boston Marathon; USA Basketball; Bellator 241; Missouri high-school basketball state championships; IOC boxing qualifiers; PGA Championship; 24 Hours of Le Mans; Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, Spanish Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix; Start of NWSL regular season; Australian Football League; Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix; Indianapolis 500

Coronavirus coverage on Yahoo

Indianapolis 500 pushed to Aug. 23

The Indy 500 won’t be run in May for the first time. IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Thursday that the race would be pushed to Aug. 23. The preceding IndyCar race at the IMS road course will now be run on July 4.

NHRA says it’s restarting in June

The National Hot Rod Association says it’ll resume its drag racing schedule in June. The sanctioning body released a revised schedule on Wednesday with the goal of holding the postponed Gatornationals on June 5-7.

The new NHRA schedule will be 19 races and include the two events that were held at the start of the 2020 season before the pandemic halted the season. You can view the tentative NHRA schedule here. It includes two weekends for makeup dates in case the season is delayed further.

The NHRA’s June goal of resumption is a month after NASCAR’s stated goal of resuming racing on May 9 at Martinsville. The IndyCar Series is, as of now, still hopeful of holding the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

Chinese Basketball Association delays restart until May

The Chinese Basketball Association will reportedly delay the restart of its basketball season until May, according to ESPN. The CBA has been shut down since January due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and was scheduled to restart on April 15. But the postponement of the 2020 Olympics and the aborted restarts of basketball leagues in Korea and Japan reportedly led Chinese officials push back the restart date of the CBA. Even if it had been restarted in April, games would have been played with no fans in attendance.

There hasn’t been an official announcement from the CBA about restarting or not restarting, but US basketball players who play in the CBA had been called back to China to start prepping to play. Jeremy Lin, Lance Stephenson, and about 18 others recently flew to China to start a mandatory 14-day quarantine before they could begin to practice. Now they could be in China until late summer to finish out the CBA season.

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games officially postponed until 2021

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee announced that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. They will be held “no later than” summer of 2021, leaving open the possibility that they could happen in the spring of 2021. The IOC will begin rolling out rescheduling plans in the coming weeks.

U.S. Olympic team calls for postponement

After surveying 1,780 of its athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee released a statement Monday calling for the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Games.

A whopping 92 percent of the athletes surveyed reported the quality of their training had been impacted in some way, and 68 percent of them said that the Olympics would not be a fair playing field if held as scheduled.

The statement was preceded by USA Swimming, USA Track & Field and USA Gymnastics all coming out in support of postponing the Games.

Formula 1 may not race until July

Formula 1 added an eighth postponement to the start of the 2020 season when organizers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix said the race wouldn’t happen as scheduled on June 7.

"The postponement was agreed upon after extensive discussions with Formula 1 as well as the FIA and the Government of the Azerbaijan Republic,” grand prix officials said.

"This comes as a direct result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and has been based entirely on the expert guidance provided to us by the relevant authorities."

The next scheduled race is now the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14, though per the Guardian, that race could be in doubt too. If the Canadian Grand Prix is postponed, the Austrian Grand Prix would be next up on July 5.

IOC says it will decide on Olympics postponement in four weeks

After weeks of denying that the coronavirus would put the Olympics off schedule, the International Olympic Committee admitted reality on Sunday.

IOC president Thomas Bach said that the postponement of the Tokyo Games is a realistic possibility and that a decision will come within four weeks. It is the first time Bach has said postponement could happen. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe made a similar concession before parliament the same day.

Canada out of 2020 Olympics, U.S. holds off from decision

Canada became the first country to pull out of the 2020 Olympics due to coronavirus concerns, announcing it would not send athletes to Tokyo without a postponement of at least a year.

The Australian Olympic Committee is also telling its athletes to prepare for a 2021 Olympics rather than competing this year.

Meanwhile, United States Olympic head Sarah Hirshland declined to advocate for a postponement, despite pressure from USA Swimming and USA Track & Field as well as a reported majority of U.S. athletes supporting a postponement.

“My role is not to make demands of those making decisions, but to bring forward solutions,” Hirshland said, according to the Associated Press.

Australian Football League to suspend games after the weekend

After initially holding out, the Australian Football League will suspend play after the weekend.

The league intended to keep playing even after the Australian government recommended people only travel for essential reasons. Prime minister Scott Morrison said the AFL could continue under those circumstances, and would work with the league to figure out arrangements.

Shortly after that announcement, the league decided it would be better off suspending games.

Former Real Madrid president dies

Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died on Saturday after he had tested positive for COVID-19. Sanz had been in a Madrid hospital since Tuesday after battling a fever for more than a week. He was 76.

Sanz led the club from 1995-2000, winning a pair of Champions League titles and one La Liga championship.

Several other notable figures in the soccer world announced they had tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, too.

Former AC Milan star and the club’s current technical director Paolo Maldini, along with his 18-year-old son, announced they had tested positive. Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla tested positive, too, marking the second case in the league.

NWSL delays the start of its season

The National Women’s Soccer League announced Friday that it is delaying the beginning of the regular season, which was scheduled for April 18.

Euro 2020 name still undecided

Despite a tweet sent from the official UEFA account earlier Friday that claimed next summer’s European Championship would still be called “Euro 2020”, UEFA clarified later in the day:


Marcus Smart among growing list of NBA cases

The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets have all been impacted by the coronavirus. The Celtics announced one case, the Lakers announced two, the 76ers announced three and the Nuggets announced one. Marcus Smart later identified himself as the Celtics player who tested positive.

NBA shuts down training facilities, sets travel restrictions

NBA players will be forbidden from traveling outside of North America, according to a memo reportedly distributed on Thursday. The league is also urging players not to leave their team markets, if possible.

The league is also shutting down all training facilities on Friday.

MLB cancels international series

MLB announced on Thursday that it is canceling a pair of series scheduled in April outside of the United States.

A series between the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks scheduled in Mexico City from April 18-19 and a series between the New York Mets and Florida Marlins scheduled in Puerto Rico from April 28-30 won’t be played as part of the greater delay to the MLB season. MLB plans to make up the games in the teams’ home cities.

Formula 1 won’t start until June

The FIA announced Thursday that the Formula 1 season will start no earlier than the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 7. F1 races in the Netherlands and Spain were postponed on Thursday and Monaco was canceled. The historic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was set to be the seventh race on the 2020 F1 calendar.

Long Beach Grand Prix can’t be rescheduled

There will not be a race on the streets of Long Beach for the first time since 1975.

Long Beach Grand Prix organizers announced that the April race can’t be moved to the fall and will be canceled in 2020. It was one of the four IndyCar races that IndyCar said it wouldn’t be running as scheduled.

Long Beach has hosted a race since 1976. The first eight races were Formula 1 events before they became Champ Car and IndyCar events. Mario Andretti is the only driver to win both an F1 and IndyCar event at Long Beach.

Reds employee in Arizona tests positive for coronavirus

The Cincinnati Reds announced on Wednesday that an employee based in Arizona has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The statement released by the Reds outlines a two-week time frame for exposure. Those who worked closely with the employee are self-quarantining, and the release of the statement is to serve as a “precautionary notice” for those who inside of the Reds Spring Training Center. The employee is the first non-player in MLB to test positive, and the first person outside the New York Yankees organization.

Le Mans moves to September

One of the world’s most famous auto races is moving to the fall. The 24 Hours of Le Mans announced Wednesday, March 18 that the June event would be run on Sept. 19-20.

USA Curling announces participant at Club Nationals tested positive

Despite other sports shutting down, the United States Curling Association still moved forward with the Club Nationals in March. A few days after the event, USA Curling announced a participant at the event has tested positive for coronavirus.

USA Curling has encouraged those at the event to take precautions and adhere to a 14-day self-quarantine policy. USA Curling has canceled a number of upcoming events due to concerns over spreading the coronavirus.

Former U.S. surgeon general addresses NBA owners

The NBA’s board of governors and owners heard from the country’s former surgeon general on Tuesday, according to The Athletic. He reinforced the need for a strict stance to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Olympic basketball draw delayed

Olympic leaders have insisted there will be no cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games, but adjacent events are already feeling the effects of the coronavirus.

FIBA announced Tuesday morning that the draw for the men’s and women’s Olympic basketball tournament, scheduled for Friday in Switzerland, will be postponed indefinitely.

Lakers to be tested, self-quarantine

Players for the Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly told to self-quarantine for 2 weeks after they get tested on Wednesday for the coronavirus.

The report came after the Brooklyn Nets, who played the Lakers in March, announced four players tested positive.

Kevin Durant says he tested positive for coronavirus

NBA star Kevin Durant says he is among the Brooklyn Nets players who have tested positive for COVID-19, though he is asymptomatic.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We’re going to get through this,” he said.

Prior to KD speaking out, the Nets announced four of their players tested positive.

PGA Championship postponed, Tour extends hiatus

The 102nd PGA Championship will be postponed. The event was scheduled for May 11-17 at TPC Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco. A qualifier event was already postponed.

The club announced Tuesday it was closed until further notice in accordance with local health orders. A “shelter in place” order for six Bay area counties.

The course was selected in 2014 to host the PGA Championship this year. The next four championship sites have been awarded, as have those from 2026-29. Available dates are 2025 and 2030.

Not long after the PGA Championship news emerged, the PGA Tour announced that it was extending its hiatus through May 10.

The Tour had previously cancelled events through April 5 and the Masters was postponed. The extension of the cancellations means that the RBC Heritage, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Wells Fargo Championship and AT&T Byron Nelson are all canceled for 2020. Those events were in the leadup to the PGA Championship.

At the moment, the next scheduled PGA Tour event is the Charles Schwab Challenge starting May 21. 

Four Nets players test positive for coronavirus

Four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Tuesday. One player is showing symptoms, while the other three are asymptomatic. None of the players have identified themselves, and all are being isolated while under the care of a physician. Every member of the Nets traveling party has been asked to self quarantine.

The team has contacted recent opponents to let them know that they have likely been exposed. The Nets played five games from March 3 to 10, and their two most recent opponents were the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

French Open postponed until September

The French Open, normally the second Grand Slam tournament of the season, has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally scheduled for May 24 through June 7, but will now be played from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4.

The French Open will now be the last Grand Slam of the season. It’s scheduled to begin just one week after the US Open concludes in New York.

Second Yankees minor leaguer tests positive for COVID-19

MLB now has its second confirmed case of the coronavirus. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, a New York Yankees minor leaguer has tested positive for COVID-19. MLB’s first confirmed case was also a Yankees minor league player, which was announced on Sunday.

Jon Heyman reported that Yankees minor leaguers are being tested and remain quarantined. The first infected player was quarantined as soon as he began to show symptoms, but he could have exposed other players before that point. The Yankees have not revealed if either infected player exposed players from other teams while spring training was still taking place.

Kentucky Derby postponed

For only the second time in its 145 year history, the Kentucky Derby will be postponed. The organizers announced on Tuesday that the race, which was originally scheduled for May 2, will be moved to Sept. 5. The only other time the Derby has been postponed was 75 years ago, when it was delayed a month as WWII came to an end.

NASCAR plans on running full schedule

NASCAR isn’t looking at dropping any Cup Series races from the schedule in the midst of its seven-race postponement because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

President Steve Phelps said Tuesday that NASCAR still intended to run all 36 Cup Series, a day after the sanctioning body extended its racing hiatus through May 3.

UFC postpones March, April events

UFC events on March 21, March 28 and April 11 have been indefinitely postponed.

Dana White, the president of the UFC, had previously been outspoken in refusing to call off events amid the coronavirus, but reversed course after his friend President Donald Trump publicly warned against gatherings of more than 10 people.

While the three events over the next month have been cancelled, White said that UFC 249 — featuring a lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson — will still be held on April 18, and that he’s willing to move the event outside the United States to do it.

NFL modifies 2020 Las Vegas draft

The draft remains set to happen on April 23-25, however, public events around the event were cancelled.

“The selection process will be televised,” the NFL said in a statement.

IOC boxing qualifiers suspended

The IOC Boxing Task Force suspended all qualifiers for the Toyko Olympics on Monday amid more global travel restrictions and quarantine measures.

The European qualifier began on Saturday in London and was scheduled to run through March 24. It will be closed after Monday’s final session.

The rest of the “Road to Tokyo” qualifiers in Great Britain, Argentina and Paris, where the World qualifiers were set for May, will all be suspended. The IOC Boxing Task Force said it aims to reschedule the qualifiers in May and June.

“The BTF’s priority remains the qualification of athletes on the field of play,” they said in a statement.

MSHSAA cancels high school basketball championships after warnings

The Missouri State High School Athletics Association intended to still hold high school state basketball championships, but the MSHSAA eventually reversed course.

As of Sunday, the MSHSAA said it would hold the event with limited fans. It intended to do so despite the CDC, Missouri’s governor and Missouri State University urging the MSHSAA to comply with regulations.

On Monday, the MSHSAA did just that. In a statement, the MSHSAA apologized for the inconvenience of canceling the event.

Broncos shut down facilities, will give employees full pay

The Denver Broncos announced Sunday that they will implement a mandatory closure of their UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High.

All employees — except for a select few with “critical operational roles” — will be required to work from home for at least the next two weeks. Fortunately, all hourly employees, part-time workers and interns will be paid as if it were a normal work schedule.

"Our organization has a responsibility to you and your family to take every precaution necessary to ensure your health and well-being," Broncos president Joe Ellis said in a memo to employees. "Just as important, we have a responsibility to this community to do our part in helping to keep everyone safe."

CDC recommends against 50-plus person gatherings for 8 weeks

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that all gatherings of more than 50 people over the next eight weeks be canceled or suspended. The announcement specifically mentioned sporting events as something that should be avoided.

The statement:

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

It remains to be seen how closely leagues will follow such guidelines.

NBA eyes June return with no fans as best-case scenario

It could be months, emphasis on plural, before the NBA is playing games again. And even longer before fans are allowed to watch them in person.

The NBA reportedly views mid-to-late-June as a best-case scenario for a return, and only without fans at that point.

The league is also reportedly scouting for possibly arena dates through August, signaling we might be looking at a delayed NBA Finals.

NFL proceeding as scheduled with free agency

While many seasons have been disrupted in the sports world, one offseason is going ahead as scheduled. The NFL sent out a memo that free agency will not be delayed, meaning negotiations can begin on Monday at noon.

The NFLPA reportedly pushed for free agency to begin as scheduled, but with everyone working remotely. Part of the reported justification for the decision: the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t stand to get much better in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

Yankees minor leaguer tests positive

The coronavirus has reached the world of baseball, as an unnamed minor league in the New York Yankees organization has tested positive for the virus.

The player is the first in an MLB organization to test positive. The player reportedly first told the team of his symptoms on Friday, and stayed away from camp after that. The Yankees have responded by putting all of their minor leagues — who would have had contact with the player in spring training — under quarantine.

No Yankees major leaguers reportedly made contact with the player.

Cleveland State women’s coach tests positive

Cleveland State women’s basketball coach Chris Kielsmeier tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday night, the school announced. Kielsmeier just finished his second year with the program, and is the first known case at the school.

“It has been a very challenging couple of days,” Kielsmeier said in a statement. “I am beginning to feel better and look forward to getting back to 100 percent.”

NBA teams support stadium workers

Several NBA teams have decided to pledge their support to stadium workers who are now out of work amid the league hiatus.

The Lakers and Clippers joined the Kings in pledging support for the Staples Center staff on Saturday, along with the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks and Brooklyn Nets.

They join the Mavericks, Hawks, Warriors and 76ers, who made similar pledges on Friday.

Multiple players have donated, too, including Zion Williamson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin and more.

Danny Green stands by Rudy Gobert

While Rudy Gobert has received a lot of criticism in recent days following his positive test for the coronavirus, Lakers guard Danny Green stood by him on Saturday.

“I feel like people are blaming him for a lot of things when obviously he was a little careless at times, but who's to say that’s necessarily the reason why that’s happened?” Green said, via Bleacher Report. “He probably should have been more careful, but it’s not all his fault.” 

NBA official Courtney Kirkland tests negative

NBA official Courtney Kirkland tested negative for the coronavirus on Saturday, nearly a week after he worked a Utah Jazz game in Salt Lake City.

Kirkland was set to work the Kings-Pelicans game on Wednesday night, but that game was called off after players realized he was working the game and that Rudy Gobert had tested positive.

Kirkland is now cleared to leave Sacramento and resume all activities without restriction.

Combat sports events in Nevada suspended until March 25

The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended all combat sporting events indefinitely due to the threat of coronavirus.

This impacted UFC, Premier Boxing Championships and Top Rank Boxing, all of which had events scheduled in Nevada through mid-April. The UFC had already moved two of its events — Columbus, Ohio, (March 28); and Portland, Oregon, (April 11) — to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas because of coronavirus concerns in those two cities.

Despite that ruling, though, UFC president Dana White still vowed to find new venues for the fights.

“We’re not stopping. We will keep finding a way to put on the fights,” White said Saturday night. “I’m in the fight business. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and this stuff happens to me every weekend. I’m used to this stuff, not at this level obviously, but this is what we do.”

Football and Baseball Hall of Fame closing doors

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced it will be closed to the public effective March 16-March 27 for the health and safety of visitors, staff and volunteers. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will close its doors beginning Sunday, March 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Pac-12 cancels all spring sports

The Pac-12 conference is canceling all conference and non-conference play, plus championships in its division “through the end of the academic year.”

They’ve also forbidden any organized team events until March 29.

XFL player tests positive for COVID-19

A player for the Seattle Dragons has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The player’s identity is not known, but the team is contacting players, staff and vendors involved in two games the person played in most recently. The XFL already suspended its season.

Premier League to hold emergency meeting

Premier League clubs will hold an emergency meeting Thursday, March 19, to discuss the next steps now that the season is on hold, according to NBC Sports. The Premier League suspended play until April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bellator 241 postponed

Bellator became the first MMA organization to cancel an event, announcing Friday that Bellator 241 would be postponed. No new date has been set.

SEC, Big 12 extend suspensions

The SEC announced on Friday that it is suspending all team activities through April 15. The conference had previously suspended competition through March 30. Suspended activities now include practices, meetings and other organized gatherings in addition to competitions.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 announced that all competition will be canceled through the end of the academic year.

Report: NBA, NBPA to freeze business operations

The NBA and the players union have agreed to a 10-day moratorium freezing business operations, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports. The moratorium includes a shutdown on trades and player signings.

USA Basketball suspends events, cancels Hoop Summit

USA Basketball announced on Friday that it is suspending scheduled events until further notice. It is also canceling the Nike Hoop Summit scheduled for April 10 in Portland. The Red Bull 3 on 3 Nationals scheduled in cities across the United States starting in Phoenix on May 31 has been postponed.

The USA men’s basketball team is scheduled to convene on July 4 and the women’s team on July 11th in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, where basketball play is scheduled to begin on July 24. The fate of the Olympic games remains unclear.

Big Ten suspends all athletic activity until April 6

The Big Ten conference joined the ACC and suspended all organized team activities. The conference announced the suspension would be until April 6 and will be-assessed at that time.

Boston Marathon rescheduled for September

The 124th Boston Marathon is postponed until Sept. 14, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) announced. The BAA said it understands “the city’s decision that the Boston Marathon cannot be held on April 20, 2020” given the state of emergency in Massachusetts.

“On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the BAA. “We understand our role, along with our partners, in ensuring a safe environment for all participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters that meets the standards set by those officials.”

The course runs through eight cities and towns. The BAA said it has been working with them to find a proper date. The 5K will also be postponed, but currently has no set make-up date.

Augusta National postpones Masters

Augusta National announced Friday morning it would postpone the Masters tournament, set for April 9-12, as well as the two other events at the golf course that month. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Drive, Chip, Putt National Finals are also postponed.

There is no date yet for rescheduling.

F1 postpones Bahrain, Vietnam races

The next two races in the F1 schedule were postponed. Formula 1 announced the Bahrain Grand Prix (March 20-22) and Vietnam Grand Pri (April 3-5) will be raced on a later date.

The league expects to begin the championship in Europe at the end of May due to the changes, though that will be “regularly reviewed” due to the changing nature of the pandemic.

Tokyo 2020: Greek part of torch relay canceled

The Greece portion of the Olympic Torch Relay was canceled after an unexpectedly large crowd showed up in Sparta for the first day of the trip.

The Olympic flame was lit Thursday in Olympia and carried by various people including Gerard Butler, the star of “300.” But an unexpectedly large crowd showed up for the event despite recommendations to the public that it not focus on the relay. It forced the Greek Olympic Committee to cancel the program.

The torch will be delivered to Tokyo 2020 organizers next Thursday without any spectators at the 1986 Olympic Panathenaic Stadium.

The Olympic committee has said the games will go on as scheduled.

Premier League suspends season until April 4

The Premier League reversed course early Friday morning and suspended its season after a coach and player tested positive for COVID-19.

The league held an emergency meeting and intends to return for matches April 4. The league said it intends to reschedule those missed.

NCAA cancels March Madness, all spring and winter NCAA championships

The NCAA has reversed course. After initially saying the NCAA tournament would occur in front of limited fans, the NCAA released a statement Thursday canceling the event.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball tournament will be canceled as a result. On top of that, all remaining “spring and winter NCAA championships” will also be canceled.

MLB suspends spring training, delays opening day by two weeks

MLB announced on Thursday that spring training is suspended as of 4 pm ET on Thursday due to COVID-19 concerns. The start of the regular season has been delayed “at least two weeks.” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB club owners will reevaluate the situation at that time. Spring training games have been played since late February in both Florida and Arizona, and there have been no restrictions on fan attendance. Minor League Baseball has also delayed the start of its regular season due to the coronavirus. No MLB player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Thursday’s spring training games were played with no restriction on fan attendance. The Washington Nationals played the New York Yankees in Florida in front of their first sell out crowd of spring training.

PGA TOUR cancels The Players Championship, next 3 events

After one round, the PGA Tour called off The Players Championship.

The Tour announced the move late on Thursday night after play had ended for the day at TPC Sawgrass amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The league also cancelled all events across all of its Tours — including the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions — through the Valero Texas Open.

The next event on the Tour’s schedule is The Masters, the first major championship of the season. It is slated to begin on April 9 at Augusta National in Georgia.

Trump says Olympics could be postponed, Japan says no

With nearly every major sports league in the United States postponing and suspending events, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he could see the upcoming Olympics be postponed for a year.

Japan, however, shut him down almost instantly.

Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympic minister, insisted that the Olympics will open as scheduled on July 24.

“The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement — absolutely not at all,” Hashimoto said.

XFL suspends inaugural season

The XFL joined most other sporting organizations by suspending its 2020 season. The official announcement arrived Thursday evening.

Top Rank cancels two fight cards

Top Rank canceled two future cards in New York on Thursday night while citing a lack of access to tests for the coronavirus.

The two cards were scheduled for Saturday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum specifically blamed President Donald Trump for the cancelation, too.

"The people I am most sorry about are the fighters because they work so hard to get ready. They put in the time and sweat and they come out with nothing," Arum said. "That's something that we should all blame the President of the United States for and his administration because they didn't prepare us for this pandemic when they had all the advance notice when the first cases started coming out of China."

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach among events canceled in April

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach has been canceled as a result of a declaration from the City of Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia.

Garcia canceled all large-scale events in Long Beach during the month of April. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach was scheduled to take place April 17-19. Garcia said he would work to find a solution so the city can hold the event later in the year.

Supercross races in Indianapolis and Detroit have also reportedly been canceled while another in Seattle has been postponed.

Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi tests positive, team quarantined

Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, the team announced. The entire team, coaching staff and a number of other staff members will now self-isolate.

Hudson-Odoi, per the release, displayed symptoms similar to a mild cold on Monday and hasn’t been at the training center since.

The 19-year-old is the latest Premier League member to test positive for the virus, joining Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. The league will hold an emergency meeting on Friday.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tests positive for COVID-19

Less than an hour after the English Premier League announced it would proceed as usual over the weekend, Arsenal revealed manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19.

Arteta, and everyone who came into close contact with him recently, will go into self-isolation in response. That group includes the “full first-team squad and coaching staff,” among others, according to Arsenal.

Arsenal’s next game is scheduled to take place Saturday.

In light of Arteta’s positive COVID-19 test, the English Premier League will hold an emergency club meeting Friday morning to determine how to proceed.

McDonald’s All American Games canceled to protect players and staff

The 2020 McDonald’s All American Games have been canceled in order to protect players, coach and staff from being exposed to COVID-19. In a statement, the McDonald’s All American Games praised the athletes, saying “canceling the Games does not diminish the contributions they have already made to their sport and their communities — nothing can take away the fact that each of them will forever be a McDonald’s All American.”

English Premier League matches will proceed as usual over the weekend

The English Premier League plans to continue operating as normal despite coronavirus concerns. The league released a statement Thursday, saying it intended to continue playing games as usual over the weekend.

The EPL noted the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised sporting events to continue to “take place as normal for now.” The EPL also said it was working to make contingency plans in case the government decides to ban major public events.

LPGA postpones next three events to minimize COVID-19 risks

The LPGA has postponed the Volvik Founders Cup, the Kia Classic and the ANA Inspiration as a result of the coronavirus. In a statement, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said the league is committed to rescheduling the events at a later date. Whan added his thoughts are with those “affected by this virus.”

While the LPGA has postponed events, the PGA Tour still plans to carry on as usual, but with no fans in attendance.

CAA Tournament official tests positive for COVID-19

An official who worked at the Colonial Athletic Association basketball conference tournament has tested positive for the coronavirus, the conference announced Thursday.

The CAA said that the official did not exhibit symptoms “until 72 hours after the game he worked.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, the conference has made the involved institutions and tournament personnel aware of the situation so they can take proper precautionary measures,” the CAA said in a release.

The tournament was played at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C., the home of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NBA G League’s Capital City Go-Go.

Duke, Kansas and ACC suspend athletics indefinitely

In what might be a sign of things to come for the NCAA tournament, Duke announced on Thursday that it has indefinitely suspended all athletics at the school. Kansas followed shortly after, announcing the cancelation of athletic travel and the suspension of all home and away games. Later on Thursday, the entire Atlantic Coast Conference announced that it has suspended all athletics and will not be participating in the tournament.

Kansas was expected to be No. 1 overall seed at the upcoming NCAA tournament, but this announcement means that the school will not be participating. The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it would restrict fans from all tournament games, but many sports leagues are going farther and are canceling events or suspending operation. If other schools or conferences follow Duke, Kansas, and the ACC and suspend all athletic activity, the future of this year’s tournament would very much be in doubt.

Calif. Athletic Commission to suspend combat sports for March

The California State Athletic Commission has suspended all combat sports in the entire state for the month of March due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Directly affected are two shows from Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions: March 19 in Hollywood and March 29 at The Forum. Both have be canceled.

In a statement, Andy Foster, executive director of CSAC, said the commission will use this time to determine the next steps.

NHL suspends season, Sharks part-time employee tests positive

The NHL announced on Thursday that it is suspending its season immediately and indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the cancellation of morning skates and practices, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly reached out to teams about the decision in advance of an afternoon conference call. No NHL players have yet to test positive for COVID-19.

A part-time employee at the SAP Center, the home of the San Jose Sharks, tested positive for the virus on Thursday night, and is now under self-quarantine. They last worked at the arena on March 3, and officials believe the risk to the public from that exposure is low.

PGA Tour will continue without fans

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the PGA Tour announced on Thursday afternoon that several upcoming tournaments will be played without fans. That includes the remainder of the Players Championship, which is currently taking place in Florida. No tournaments were canceled.

The Valspar Championship, the WGC Match Play event, and the Valero Texas Open will all be played without fans. The ban on fans only lasts through the Valero Texas Open, which is the final tournament before the Masters.

Numerous NCAA conferences cancel basketball tournaments

A wave of conferences canceled their basketball tournaments on Thursday due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The AAC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, and ACC all announced the cancelation of their tournaments. The AAC was scheduled to tip off on Thursday, while the Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC had second-round games scheduled following first-round games on Wednesday. Prior to cancelation, the AAC, Big Ten, and Big 12 tourneys were going to be played without fans. The Big East canceled its tournament, but waited until halftime of the game between St. John’s and Creighton to do it.

Numerous conferences have also began canceling or suspending spring athletics.

Multiple NFL teams pull coaching, scouting staffs off the road

The Washington Redskins announced on Twitter that due to the coronavirus outbreak, they are pulling their coaching and scouting staffs off the road and suspending travel for the immediate future. The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly did the same thing on Wednesday, according to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson and Eric Edholm.

Patriot League cancels spring athletics

The Patriot League Conference has followed the Ivy League Conference and canceled all spring athletics, competitions, and practices. A most of the schools in the conference, which includes the US Military Academy, the US Naval Academy, Bucknell, and Boston College, have already moved to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.

MLS suspends season

Following the lead of the NBA, Major League Soccer is suspending its season immediately due to the coronavirus outbreak. The purpose, according to Paul Tenorio of The Athletic, is so MLS can “fully assess the situation.” The Seattle Sounders and the San Jose Earthquakes already had games postponed on Wednesday due to local bans on large gatherings.

The season began just two weeks ago. Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas told the media on Thursday that the target for the MLS suspension is 30 days.

Second NBA player tests positive for COVID-19

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz has tested positive for COVID-19. Mitchell is a teammate of Rudy Gobert, who tested positive on Wednesday night. Gobert’s positive test and the subsequent exposure of numerous players, fans, team employees, and media members led to the indefinite suspension of the NBA’s season.

ATP suspends men’s tennis tour for six weeks

The Association of Tennis Professionals has suspended its men’s tennis tour for six weeks due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus. Six tournaments in three countries have been canceled, and the current ATP Challenger tournaments in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, and Potchefstroom, South Africa will not be completed.

In a statement released Thursday, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said that the decision to suspend the tour was not taken lightly, but they believe it’s the “responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.”

Miami-Dade County postpones NASCAR races

Miami-Dade County announced a ban on large gatherings on Thursday morning, and postponed the NASCAR races that were to be run at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 20-22. They were scheduled to run Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Cup Series races.

According to the county, the final decision about the races are up to NASCAR. They can continue to be postponed, they could be run without fans, or they could be canceled.

Wizards, Pistons announce self-quarantine of players, staff

The Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons both announced on Thursday that they are advising players, coaches and basketball operations personnel to self-quarantine for the next 3-4 days due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert has tested positive for COVID-19, and the Wizards played the Jazz on Feb. 29. The Wizards also played the New York Knicks on Mar. 10, and the Knicks had recently played the Jazz.

In Thursday’s statement, the Wizards also said that any player, coach, or basketball operations personnel who exhibits flu-like symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.

NBA suspends season

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night until further notice after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

The league announced the decision after the Jazz-Thunder game was abruptly postponed. Fans had filled the Chesapeake Energy Arena stands, and players took the court shortly before scheduled tip-off prior to leaving the floor to return to their locker rooms.

The NBA said it will use the stoppage todetermine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

ESPN reported that players at Wednesday’s game were all in quarantine in the arena and being tested for the coronavirus.

Gobert made light of the coronavirus scare during a Monday news conference when reporters asked players about the response to the spread of COVID-19. He closed his session with reporters by reaching to touch the microphones and voice recorders on the podium.

La Liga suspended, Real Madrid players quarantined

La Liga, the top soccer division in Spain, has suspended its season for at least two weeks, the latest in a growing line of worldwide precautions to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The league announced the decision Thursday, around 32 hours before Real Madrid was set to take on Eibar Friday evening.

Real Madrid players, meanwhile, have been quarantined after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for COVID-19. The soccer and basketball teams train at the same complex, and share some of the same facilities. The entire complex has been temporarily shut down after the positive test.

Ohio State cancels spring football game

The impact of the coronavirus is now being felt in the world of college football.

Ohio State announced Wednesday night that it has canceled its annual spring game, which was scheduled for April 11 at Ohio Stadium. OSU’s spring game regularly attracts tens of thousands of fans to Columbus.

The OSU coaching staff will also suspend its recruiting operations, head coach Ryan Day said.

The University of Michigan said earlier Wednesday that its open spring practice at Michigan Stadium will not be held. The event was scheduled for April 18. The Wolverines will go through its spring practice schedule as planned, but UM “will not be allowing coaches to conduct off-campus recruiting activities or host recruits on official or unofficial campus visits” through the end of winter term on April 21.

Notre Dame announced on Thursday that the yearly Blue-Gold Game has been canceled. The game was to take place on April 18.

Other schools to cancel football activities include Cincinnati and Kent State.  

Chinese Basketball Association asks Americans to return to league

The Chinese Basketball Association has reached out to the approximately 40 Americans in its league this week and asked them to return to China, according to ESPN.

Per the report, most foreign players were sent home in January during the Lunar New Year and were told then to return in mid-to-late February. The CBA suspended all games, however is preparing to start again in early April.

It is unclear if the American players — including Jeremy Lin, Lance Stephenson, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and others — will actually return to China, where the coronavirus outbreak started late last year. Should they return, they were told they have to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arrival in China.

According to ESPN, some agents are worried that if the players do not comply and return to China, they could be banned from the CBA for life and agents could lose their licenses in the country.

Juventus player Daniele Rugani tests positive

Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon.

However Rugani, 25, is still asymptomatic.

“Juventus Football Club is currently activating all the isolation procedures required by law, including the census of those who have had contact with him,” the team said.

Rugani has been with the team for six seasons, and made three starts so far this season.

Juventus, located in Turin in Northern Italy, is in one of the hardest-hit regions in the world. The entire country was put on lockdown this week, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday that nearly all businesses in the country would be required to shut down in an effort to help curb the spread of the virus, according to the New York Times.

ATP in ‘advanced discussions’ on suspending events

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the ATP is in “advanced discussions” on suspending all events for the next six weeks amid the outbreak.

That move would impact the Miami Open, the U.S. Clay Court Championship, Grand Prix Hassan II, the Monte-Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open.

Ivy League cancels all spring athletics

The Ivy League Conference has canceled all spring sports competitions and practices, ending all sports at all 8 universities for the academic year.

Several Ivy League universities have told their students not to return to school following the conclusion of spring break, which would make continuing athletics at those institutions infeasible.

Women’s World Cup ski races canceled

The International Ski Federation (FIS) announced on Wednesday that the upcoming Audi FIS Women’s World Cup races have been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The races were to take place March 12-14 in Åre, Sweden, and will not be rescheduled. The remaining races on the women’s calendar were to take place March 18-22 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, but have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. Those were the last races on the women’s calendar, so the 2019-2020 season is now complete for the women.

Washington gathering ban official, Mariners may relocate

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee officially banned all gatherings of more than 250 people in three counties on Wednesday afternoon. The affected counties are King, Snohomish and Pierce, and the Governor didn’t give any time frame for the ban.

This affects the Seattle Mariners in the short term. Seattle is in King County, and the team’s home opener against the Texas Rangers is scheduled for March 26. MLB has been reluctant for teams to play games without fans and behind closed doors, and the Mariners said in a statement that they are currently working on “alternative plans” for the late March games scheduled at T-Mobile Park.

In light of the ban, the Seattle Sounders announced that they have postponed their March 21 home game against FC Dallas. The XFL’s Seattle Dragons are scheduled to face the LA Wildcats at home on March 15, and that game will be played without fans.

College Basketball Invitational canceled

The Gazelle Group, the organizer of the College Basketball Invitational, announced on Wednesday that the 2020 tournament has been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Canceling the tournament was deemed “the most prudent course of action,” according to a statement released on Twitter.

The organizers plan to bring the CBI back for 2021.

World Health Organization considers COVID-19 a pandemic

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that it considers COVID-19 to have reached pandemic status, according to NPR.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO expects the issue to get worse in the coming weeks, "In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher."

NESCAC cancels all spring sports due to coronavirus

The New England Small College Athletic Conference has cancelled all spring sports due to the coronavirus. NESCAC, a Division III conference, released a statement Wednesday announcing the decision.

A number of sports will be affected by the NESCAC’s move, including baseball, golf, softball and track, among others, will be cancelled.

Leading expert: recommend no large crowds at sporting events

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that the spread of COVID-19 will only get worse. In terms of sporting events, he advises no major gatherings.

“We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official any place that has large crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.”

Fauci was asked by the committee if the Ivy League overreacted to the potential risk of spreading the disease by canceling its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments. The NBA and other professional sports organizations are still discussing how they will approach it.

E32020 esports show canceled

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) canceled E32020, its annual show known for blockbuster video game reveals. The event was to take place in Los Angeles from June 9-11 and draws people from around the world.

The ESA is considering an “online experience” to replace the show. There are a number of new consoles launching this year, including the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Tokyo Olympic president calls delaying games remark ‘outlandish’

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori dismissed comments by a board member that the 2020 Olympics should be delayed a year or two due to COVID-19 concerns.

Haruyuki Takahashi made the comments to the Wall Street Journal. In a quick news conference he called March 11, Mori said the man was speaking only for himself and was not involved in the day-to-day work.

“I have spoken to Mr. Takahashi, and he has apologized,” Mori said in Japanese, per the Associated Press. “He certainly said an outlandish thing.”

Mori stuck by the stance that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go on, saying “there is no plan now to change our plans,” per the AP.

The IOC’s most senior member, Dick Pound, said last month that though the Olympics are currently scheduled to go on, the group has until about May to decide on cancelation or postponement. Pound also said he was speaking for himself, and not the board or organizing committee.

Washington Gov. to restrict large gatherings, including sporting events

In order to fight COVID-19 in one of the states hit hardest by the virus, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will restrict gatherings of more than 250 people, according to the Seattle Times. That reportedly includes sporting events.

Such an order would trigger major consequences for the sporting world. The Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day is scheduled for the end of the month, and a portion of the NCAA basketball tournament is scheduled to be played in Spokane next weekend.

The XFL’s Seattle Dragons and MLS’s Seattle Sounders are also in the middle of their seasons, as are a number of college teams.

Inslee will reportedly announce the decision on Wednesday.

First Premier League match postponed

The Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed due to the coronavirus, the league’s first match to be called off due to the disease.

The decision was made after it emerged that Evangelos Marinakis, owner of Greek club Olympiaco, had tested positive for COVID-19. He had been previously in contact with unnamed Arsenal personnel.

No rescheduling has been announced, and Manchester City fans have been advised to not travel to Etihad Stadium for the event.

Major League Soccer also required that all teams fly private rather than commercial on Wednesday afternoon, starting with their road games this weekend, according to The Athletic.

Report: Knicks cancel 50th anniversary celebration

The New York Knicks have canceled an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1969-70 NBA championship, according to the New York Post.  Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Bill Bradley were among the players planning to attend the event scheduled for halftime of New York’s March 21 home game against the Golden State Warriors.

According to the report, some former players expressed concern about flying while the outbreak remains uncontained.

Ivy League cancels conference basketball tournaments

The Ivy League conference tournament for men’s and women’s basketball was scheduled to get underway this weekend, but not anymore. The conference announced on Tuesday that both tournaments would be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The regular season winners, Yale for men and Princeton for women, will now get automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

Members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams responded with an online petition to reinstate the tournament.

“The hypocrisy of our Ivy League presidents is baffling and alarming,” the petition reads. “We are disappointed and disheartened that they would discriminate against one sport and allow the others to continue to compete. Other conferences, such as the SEC and Pac - 12, are still scheduled to host their men’s basketball championship tournaments.”

The NCAA responded to the decision, noting that schools and conferences “make their own decisions” and that experts had not “advised against holding sporting events.”

It released a separate statement later in the day with no new information.

New York half marathon canceled

Citing COVID-19, New York Road Runner announced on Tuesday that the NYC half marathon scheduled for March 15 has been canceled.

MotoGP postpones Grand Prix of the Americas

MotoGP announced on Tuesday that it has decided to postpone the upcoming Grand Prix of the Americas due to concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The event was to take place on April 3-5 in Austin, Texas. A new date, seven months in the future, has already been chosen, and the race will now begin on November 13, 2020.

USOPC postpones media summit of Olympic athletes

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced on Monday that it is postponing a planned summit of athletes in Los Angeles because of coronavirus concerns.

The event previously scheduled for March 15 was going to feature several prominent U.S. athletes including six-time Olympic champion sprinter Allyson Felix, two-time Olympic and World Cup champion soccer player Carli Lloyd and six-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte. It was an opportunity for athletes to tell their stories to media members in the run-up to the Tokyo games scheduled to start July 24.

“With 136 days to the opening of the Olympic Games, and 168 to the opening of the Paralympic Games, that simply isn’t a risk worth taking,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter to athletes.

Italy suspends sporting events

In the most significant step yet in sports to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, the Italian National Olympic Committee announced on Monday that all domestic sporting events will be suspended until April 3.

The initial plan was for sporting events to take place in empty stadiums through the same date until officials decided on Monday to call them off. The events affected include games in Serie A, the country’s top soccer league.

MMA events postponed

MMA outfit Combate Americas, which touts itself as the “premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts sports franchise” announced on Monday that three events scheduled for March will be postponed.

A March 13 event in Tucson, Arizona, a March 20 event in Mexico City and a March 27 event scheduled in San Antonio are all postponed.

Japan’s baseball league to delay opening day

Japan’s professional baseball league, Nippon Professional Baseball, announced on Monday that the start of the 2020 season would be delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’ve decided to postpone the start of the season,” NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito said during a news conference, via the Japan Times. “We’d like to prioritize playing 143 games with the fans. We will listen to the experts’ advice and we would like to open the season by at least the end of April.”

The J. League, Japan’s top level of professional soccer, will lengthen its current postponement. The league postponed games in late February, but games were scheduled to resume on March 18. After a special task force meeting between NPB and J. League officials, it was decided that the J. League will not resume then and will continue to postpone the resumption of its schedule.

IIHF cancels 2020 Women’s World Championship

The International Ice Hockey Federation has canceled the 2020 Women’s World Championship due to the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

The tournament had been scheduled for March 31 through April 10 in Canada, with Nova Scotian cities Halifax and Truro sharing host duties.

The United States women have won the past five IIHF titles, and were set to participate again along with nine other nations.

Ligue 1 soccer game in France postponed

On Friday, Ligue 1 — France’s top soccer league — announced that Saturday’s game between champion Paris St. Germain and RC Strasbourg in Strasbourg will be postponed.

According to Reuters, France has seen 613 cases of COVID-19, resulting in nine deaths. Strasbourg's Alsace region is one of the country’s hardest-hit areas.

"Following a decree by the Bas-Rhin prefecture regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the game between Strasbourg and Paris St. Germain is postponed to a later date," the league announced in a statement.

IOC: Tokyo Olympics will go on as scheduled

The state of the Olympic games in Tokyo is one of the most-watched stories in sports. As of now, the International Olympic Committee is confident that the games will start as scheduled on July 24.

IOC president Thomas Bach encouraged athletes to prepare as normal as he spoke to reporters on March 3 from an executive conference at IOC headquarters Lausanne, Switzerland.

“I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with great confidence and with full steam,” Bach said.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams attempted to allay speculation from Tokyo organizers that the games could be delayed, insisting that they will start on schedule.

“We've made a decision,” Adams said. “And the decision is that the games go ahead.”

Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto suggested earlier that day that a postponement later in 2020 was on the table.

“The IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020,” Hashimoto told the nation’s parliament. “This can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”

Meanwhile, organizers in Greece are moving forward with the flame-lighting ceremony that takes place each Olympic year. The Greek Olympic committee announced on Tuesday that the March 12 ceremony will go on as planned with the intention of passing the torch to Tokyo organizers on March 19.

Cristiano Ronaldo will play Serie A games in empty stadiums. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Italy bars fans from sporting events

Italy is one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, with 3,858 cases and 148 deaths as of Friday, according to CNN. In turn, the nation is implementing one of the most drastic strategies to combat the spread of the coronavirus, banning fans from all sporting events in the country until at least April 3.

The Italian government made the announcement on March 4 alongside a decision to close all of the nation’s schools and universities until March 15.

Among other events, the decision will impact games in Serie A, the nation’s top soccer league that features teams like Inter Milan and Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo’s club. Serie A games were initially postponed before the decision to play resume play in front of empty stadiums.

The Six Nations men’s and women’s rugby matches scheduled for March in Rome will also be played without fans present. It is an an international event that would normally draw thousands of fans from other countries.

The coronavirus scare also threatened to halt a number of cycling events scheduled in Italy.