The Latest: Big South Conference cancels all spring sportsThe Associated Press — By The Associated Press
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic's effect on sports around the world (all times local):
The Big South Conference became the latest to announce it is canceling all spring athletic activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference said its chief executive officers and athletic directors made the decision to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.
Organizers of the Indianapolis 500 mini-marathon have canceled the event for the first time in 43 years and suspended all other festivities through the second weekend of May.
The organization cited the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cancel or postpone large events over the next eight weeks.
The 13.1-mile footrace is considered one of the top half-marathons in the United States. It had nearly 20,000 finishers last year.
The race is part of the festivities surrounding the Indy 500, which is scheduled for May 24. IndyCar has canceled all races until the GMR Grand Prix, which is still on the calendar for May 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mexican pentathlete Mariana Arceo, who qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is being treated at a clinic in Mexico City.
The 25-year-old Arceo won the gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and had been training in Barcelona where she contracted the virus. She began showing symptoms after returning to Mexico last weekend.
Ana Guevara, director of Mexico’s National Commission on Physical Culture and Sports, said Arceo’s condition “is advancing well.”
Arceo is the first Mexican athlete qualified for Tokyo to test positive. Guevara said 218 athletes who had traveled to other states or countries have been tested and all others were negative.
Her trainer, who was with her in Barcelona, and three other members of Mexico’s pentathlon team are under observation.
A track and field event in California that regularly draws Olympians has been canceled.
Organizers said the Mt. SAC Relays have been called off as a result of California Gov. Gavin Newsom advising against large public gatherings.
The meet had been set for April 16-18 at Mt. SAC College in Walnut, California. The event is known for its elite division, where top athletes typically test their fitness early in the season. In Olympic years, they use the meet to obtain qualifying times.
Formula One has moved its midseason break from August to March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The break has also been extended from 14 days to 21.
Motorsport's governing body FIA said in a statement Wednesday that the change was unanimously approved by all teams.
Four of the season’s 22 races have already been postponed, and the FIA is hoping that moving the annual break forward could make it easier to find new dates later for events. F1 races in Netherlands, Spain and Monaco scheduled for May are also under threat of postponement.
The Miami Heat and AmericanAirlines Arena unveiled their plans for team and arena part-time employees who will be affected by the sports shutdown caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The Heat say they will pay not only their own employees but those from partner companies such as Levy Restaurants (the arena’s food and beverage concessionaire), Contemporary Services Corporation (which provides security) and Pritchard Sports and Entertainment (the arena’s housekeeping provider).
The Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will also donate an additional $1 million to the Miami Heat Charitable Fund, money that the team says will “establish an initiative designed specifically for employees and/or other community needs as they arise in the coming months.”
Heat Business Operations President Eric Woolworth says the 1,000 or so part-time employees “are the backbone of our business. Night in and night out, every single one of these employees works tirelessly to provide our guests and our community with the best experience in sports and entertainment. They deserve our help as we all navigate this unpredictable situation together.”
The NBA and the NFL both announced Wednesday that they will be offering free previews of their digital products.
The NFL’s “Game Pass” includes access to past regular and postseason games, previous seasons of award-winning NFL Films series such as “Hard Knocks” and “A Football Life,” and exclusive film sessions. It will be offered free until May 31 to fans within the U.S., and starting Thursday until July 31 to fans outside the U.S. and Canada.
The NBA unveiled a free trial of its “NBA League Pass” that will last through April 22 for scores of archived games and other content.
“Limiting social interactions is a critical way to minimize the spread of this virus, but staying home for long periods of time can be difficult,” the league said, adding that the trial will offer access to full-length and condensed replays of all games from this season, as well as an expansive archive of classic games and content.
Three prominent jockeys are skipping the upcoming Dubai World Cup in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
U.S.-based jockeys Irad Ortiz Jr., Luis Saez and Tyler Gaffalione will not travel to the United Arab Emirates for the world’s richest day of horse races March 28. Saez’s agent, Richie DePass, said the coronavirus was behind his client’s decision. Gaffalione’s agent, Matt Muziker, said his client wasn’t going because he’d be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon return.
Trainer Bob Baffert said Mucho Gusto will be ridden by William Buick in the $12 million Dubai World Cup with Ortiz not traveling. With Gaffalione out, trainer Mark Casse said Frankie Dettori will ride Sir Winston.
— Reporting by Beth Harris and Stephen Whyno.
Cuba has joined countries around the world in suspending its sports calendar due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
The national sports institute announced Wednesday that events would be put off at least until April 30.
The official Prensa Latina news agency said that will push back the baseball season, which had been scheduled to start on April 11, as well as this month's Cuba Cup of track and field.
The institute also said that Cuban delegations won't travel abroad — potentially affecting qualification for the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Cuba has reported 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death, that of an Italian tourist.
The IndyCar race in Long Beach, California, won't be held this year.
Officials with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach said Wednesday they pursued the possibility of rescheduling the popular race to a later date, but "trying to reassemble all the elements that have made the Long Beach event such a success does not appear feasible for 2020."
The race had been scheduled for April 19.
Next year's date will be April 18.
Ticket holders can either receive a credit that will apply to the same level of admission for next year or receive a full refund.
An Arizona-based employee of the Cincinnati Reds has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The employee worked inside the team’s spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona, from Feb. 29 to March 14. The team said in a statement it was sending a precautionary notice to those who were inside the building and that those who were in close contact with the employee are being tested and have self-quarantined.
There are no known MLB players who have tested positive for coronavirus. Two minor league players with the Yankees have tested positive.
All men's and women's professional tennis tournaments through June 7 are being called off because of the new coronavirus pandemic.
The ATP and WTA announced Wednesday that the entire clay-court circuit "will not be held as scheduled" — a day after the start of the French Open, also played on that surface, was postponed from May to September.
The tours had said last week they would suspend play until late April or early May.
The tournaments affected by the tours' suspensions include combined men's and women's events in Madrid and Rome.
Also being scrapped are upcoming WTA tournaments in Strasbourg, France, and Rabat, Morocco, along with ATP events in Munich; Estoril, Portugal; Geneva; and Lyon, France.
Both tours also said that their rankings will be frozen "until further notice."
The International Tennis Federation also put a halt to its lower-tier events until June 7.
Another Atlanta sports star is following the lead of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman says he'll match Ryan's donation of $50,000 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which distributes food to the needy, and $50,000 to the Giving Kitchen, which aides food service workers who are financially hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, Freeman says he'll donate another $25,000 to the Salvation Army.
The 24 Hours Le Mans endurance race has been postponed for three months because of the coronavirus outbreak and will now run from Sept. 19-20.
The race was initially set for June 13-14.
The new date will also impact other races on the World Endurance Championship's calendar.
FIFA is looking to set up a hardship fund to help soccer stakeholders affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
FIFA says it will “analyze if a support fund at global level will be required” and how it might operate.
A conference call with the presidents of FIFA and the six continental governing bodies agreed to proposals made Tuesday by Gianni Infantino.
Infantino’s offer for FIFA to donate $10 million to the World Health Organization was approved.
Soccer’s stalled season could be delayed beyond its traditional June 30 finish so FIFA will look to amend or have temporary rules relating to player contracts and trading windows.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey hasn’t ruled out the prospect of holding some spring football practices, but he’s not all that optimistic.
Sankey says on a conference call with reporters that “practically that window’s pretty narrow.” The SEC and other conferences have canceled championships for spring sports and spring football games, and suspended athletic activities until at least April 15.
“That doesn’t mean we’ll be back to normal practice activities April 16,” Sankey said.
He also cited federal recommendations limiting the size of gatherings.
The Austrian soccer league is making plans to extend its suspension until May and take advantage of UEFA’s decision to postpone the European Championship.
The Austrian Bundesliga says its clubs agreed they could restart in early May and play until the end of June.
The league says “should the situation in general ease and make a resumption of play possible, the clubs will immediately consult about concrete start dates and draw up an alternative schedule.”
UEFA moved the European Championship to 2021, freeing up space for European leagues to finish seasons disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak before many players’ contracts expire on June 30.
The Western Athletic Conference has canceled all competition and championships for the remainder of the academic year.
The WAC had previously suspended all competition, but the conference’s board of directors voted Tuesday to cancel all spring sports. The decision falls in line with the NCAA's cancellation of its winter and spring championships.
The WAC’s decision affects men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball.
Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says the country's top soccer league is likely to resume on May 3.
Spadafora says “then we will evaluate whether it’s open to the public or not.”
Italy was one of the first countries to suspend its soccer leagues because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina says starting on May 3 should allow the league to finish by June 30 but if that's not possible “there must be a change in format.”
Gravina also says “a salary cut for soccer players can not be a taboo in this period of emergency.”
Clubs in the top two soccer leagues in Sweden say they do not want to start the new season until the beginning of June because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Swedish soccer association must now decide whether to accept the clubs’ request.
The season was due to start on the weekend of April 3-4.
The clubs say in a statement that their decision is supported by broadcasters, fans and the country’s main supporters’ union.
The clubs say “work remains on establishing a new plan for the year and sorting out the exact dates for the start and other rounds.”
Spanish soccer team Alavés says 15 people in its club have become infected with the coronavirus: three players, seven members of its coaching staff and five other employees.
The club had already reported that two members of its staff were infected.
Valencia and Espanyol said earlier this week that their clubs have also been hit by the virus.
Valencia said Monday that 35% of its squad and coaching staff are infected, while Espanyol said on Tuesday that six members of its squad and staff have it.
All three clubs say their infected members are in good health.
All training sessions at Belgian professional soccer clubs have been suspended until at least April 5 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Belgium's national security council earlier said all gatherings, cultural, social, festive and sporting activities have been prohibited until the same date.
The league says it will decide which matches can be rescheduled once training has resumed.
The league also says it will pay the second instalment of an 800,000 euro ($862,000) solidarity fund to amateur clubs to help them cushion the economic weight of the pandemic.
AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimović has set up a fundraiser to help Italian hospitals in the center of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the website accepting donations, Ibrahimović has donated 100,000 euros ($109,000) to the fund. It quickly raised a further 10,300 euros ($11,300).
The site states that all the money raised will be “directly donated to Humanitas to help strengthen the intensive care and emergency units of Milano, Bergamo, Castellanza and Torino's hospitals.”
Italy has been the second hardest hit country with more than 31,000 cases of the virus.
The 38-year-old Ibrahimović rejoined Milan in January from the Los Anegles Galaxy. He has also played for Italian clubs Inter Milan and Juventus.
Premier League team Chelsea is making a hotel located on the grounds of its Stamford Bridge stadium available free of charge for London’s medical workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The club says Russian owner Roman Abramovich will cover the costs of providing the accommodation for staff of the National Health Service who “will be working long shifts and may not be able to travel home or would otherwise have to make long commutes.”
Chelsea says the offer is initially for a two-month period and will be reconsidered depending on circumstances.
The entire hotel will be given up for medical workers if necessary.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and pop star wife Ciara have announced they are donating 1 million meals through Seattle’s Food Lifeline to help provide meals for those in need during the coronavirus outbreak in the region.
“Everything we do together makes a difference,” Ciara said in a video posted to her Twitter account. “And together we will conquer this tough time that we’re going through.”
According to Food Lifeline’s website, the organization provides the equivalent of 134,000 meals daily and had 58 million pounds of food sourced last year.
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