La Liga cleared to restart from June 8, says Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

La Liga has been given the green light to restart from June 8, following guidelines from Spain’s Ministry of Health.

La Liga has yet to officially confirm a date on which it will resume, although president Javier Tebas had said previously he hoped the season could do so from June 12.

The Spanish government has given the green light for the return of professional sport – including #LaLigaSantander and #LaLigaSmartBank – as of June 8th, following guidelines from the Ministry of Health.#BackToWin pic.twitter.com/OjjV61pnBf

Football in Spain was suspended on March 23, with Barcelona two points ahead of Real Madrid in La Liga with all teams left with 11 matches still to play.

The Segunda Division – Spain’s second tier – has also been cleared to resume on the same date.

  • Latest La Liga table

Reacting to the news on Twitter, Tebas said: “We are very happy for the decision, it is the result of the great work of clubs, players, technicians, CSD (National Sports Council) and agents involved.

“But we cannot lower our guard, it is important to follow health regulations and ensure the pandemic doesn’t come back.”

La Liga clubs are currently training in small groups of up to 10 people, having initially returned to individual training in early May.

Speaking earlier this month, Tebas reiterated his desire to stage matches every day once play resumed.

“That’s what I hope,” Tebas said. “We shouldn’t have any problems playing on Mondays across the eleven rounds of matches we have left to play.

“I hope for some sense from the Spanish Football Federation on this, because it’s very important for us to be able to give both our national and international broadcasters, and fans across the world, football on as many days as possible to ensure as little disruption as possible.”

Spain is one of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 28,000 deaths and more than 234,000 cases of infection diagnosed. But the daily death toll has been steadily declining, with 56 deaths registered on Friday.

Spain has also begun to relax one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, with the provinces of Madrid and Barcelona set to allow gatherings of up to 10 people from Monday as they move into the first phase of a de-escalation.

Hazard aiming to be ready in time for restart

Eden Hazard says he is happy to be back training with his Real Madrid team-mates and is aiming to be fully fit once La Liga returns.

The former Chelsea forward has had an injury-ravaged debut season since his move from the Premier League for a deal worth £130m, and has not played since February 22.

Football’s suspension came at a good time for Hazard, who was set to miss around two months with a fractured ankle.

Source: Read Full Article

Had Michael Jordan and ‘The Last Dance’ Bulls been granted an encore, there’s no guarantee it would’ve been a smash

If there had been the occasion to do another chapter of “The Last Dance” — well, there would have been no reason to do the entire series. The essential conflict at the center of the drama of the Chicago Bulls’ final championship season of their 1990s NBA dynasty was the awareness that it would be the final season.

Let’s assume Michael Jordan had gotten his way, though. Let’s say Phil Jackson had agreed to coach the team for another season. Let’s say Jordan had agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Bulls and that management had found a way, like magic, to appease chronically underpaid Scottie Pippen as he approached the free agency he awaited so long.

Could the Bulls have won it again?

GREER: Three big flaws in “The Last Dance”

Or is it possible general manager that Jerry Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf did that triumvirate a favor by allowing it to exit Chicago as a group holding, with help from Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper, six editions of the Larry O’Brien Trophy in front of 300,000 fans on a cloudy June day at Grant Park?

I mean, think of how few “Rocky” sequels it took for Apollo Creed to go from world heavyweight champion completing another defense of his title to dying in the ring.

In his 2017 interview with basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski, Krause explained his reasoning behind the decision not to continue with Phil Jackson as coach and to allow the six-time champion Bulls to scatter as the franchise pursued a complete rebuild. Krause insisted the frontcourt of Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman, who combined to average 65 minutes at the center and power forward positions, no longer could physically perform at the championship level, and the team’s salary-cap situation would not accommodate the location of sufficient replacements.

Jordan believers insist he could have elevated whomever was installed at those positions to a championship level.

If there were to be another episode of “The Last Dance,” it might have had to run only a half-hour. The 1998-99 NBA season would have been the best possible venue for the aging Bulls because of the lockout that limited the regular season to 50 games. For Jordan and Pippen, at 35 and 33, respectively, it would have been the ultimate in load management.

The season produced a deserving champion but no truly elite team. Only the Spurs and Jazz managed records that would have, in a standard season, equated to 60 wins.

The Spurs, though, became a dominant team in the 1999 NBA playoffs. They went 15-2 in the postseason, matching the best run by the Bulls from their six title teams. They dropped one game in the opening series and one in the Finals but swept the Lakers (with Shaquille O’Neal and a young Kobe Bryant) and Trail Blazers (with Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire).

To challenge them, the Bulls would have had to either re-sign Rodman and Longley against their own better judgment or find someone available who could have approximated their contributions. Derrick Coleman was a free agent that year, but the Bulls couldn’t have swallowed the five-year, $40 million deal he signed. Matt Geiger signed for about $7 million per year with the Sixers. They probably could have afforded Sam Perkins, who signed with the Pacers for a $2 million average; he averaged 5 points and 2.9 rebounds.

BENDER: The greatest Michael Jordan game you definitely don’t remember

After the Bulls released him, Rodman largely was unwanted in the league and signed with the Lakers in late February 1999, nearly a month after the shortened season began. He lasted less than two months and was released, with Bryant acknowledging Rodman had been showing up “continuously late” for team obligations.

The Bulls traded Longley for a package that included a first-round draft pick, which they used to select Ron Artest. In Phoenix, Longley’s playing time declined from nearly 30 minutes per game on a championship team to 24 minutes on the Western Conference’s sixth seed and only 17 minutes once the Suns reached the playoffs.

Steve Kerr, who’d averaged 7.5 points and shot .438 from 3-point range in 22 minutes for the Bulls, won another championship in his first season after being traded to San Antonio. But he was able to contribute only 4.4. points and .313 long-distance shooting in 17 minutes per game. He barely appeared in the playoffs, getting only 97 of a possible 816 minutes.

“If you asked all the guys who won in ’98 — ‘We’ll give you a one-year contract to try for a seventh?” — you think they would have signed? Yes, they would have signed,” Jordan said in “The Last Dance.” He acknowledged it would have been different for Pippen given how important it was for him to cash in on his free agency, but Jordan insisted it still could have happened.

“If Phil was going to be there, if Dennis was going to be there, if MJ was going to be there to win our seventh?” Jordan said. “Pip is not going to miss out on that.”

There is no great clarity, though, even with two decades’ worth of hindsight, as to what “that” would have involved. It might have ended with another NBA championship, the most improbable of all. It likely would have ended somewhere short of the summit. We’d have gotten to enjoy MJ for another All-NBA season, but there would have been no cause to put together a documentary as compelling as “The Last Dance.”

Source: Read Full Article

La Liga Q&A: How Spanish football plans to resume season amid coronavirus pandemic

The Bundesliga is set to restart on May 16. The Premier League is targeting a May 18 return to training. So what about La Liga?

On Saturday, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he expects La Liga to resume “soon” behind closed doors, with players returning to training this week.

Here, Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour gets more details from La Liga representative Keegan Pierce about Spanish football’s plans to return after the country’s strict lockdown measures were eased…

  • Bundesliga: The restart explained
  • Venues dilemma for PL as government seeks national ‘lift’

What can you tell us about La Liga’s plans to return?

“The most important thing to keep in mind is that La Liga is looking to resume the rest of its season in coordination with the Spanish government, which announced just last week a phased process towards what they describe as the return to new normal for everyday life in Spain.

“As part of this scaled approach to the return to the new normal, Spain is looking to incorporate different levels of economic activity and sport is one of them. So, La Liga, together with clubs and medical professionals, and in coordination with the health ministry and other government officials in Spain, have been coordinating very closely a series of protocols that allow football to resume while minimising the risk for players and participants.”

How will this work?

“You will have seen images this week of a number of La Liga players returning to their training centres. This is part of an initial phase whereby all participants within squads are getting tested and making sure we know who may potentially have the infection or who may have already gone through a period of infection, and therefore potentially have immunity.

“From that point, that’s when players can begin to work individually. This is something that’s going to be taking place over the course of the next four weeks as we sort of transition from an initial testing phase to a phase whereby players will be doing individual work while still respecting social distancing.

“You’ve seen the images of the players wearing masks, wearing gloves as they arrive at their training centres, and then eventually we would phase after this four-week period to a moment in which players could begin working in group sessions.”

What happens if a player tests positive during season resumption?

“We’re really looking to go through this process step by step and obviously the first step is to make sure that we’ve got players back at their training centres and going about their individual work, but the core of the protocols account for that, and they account for the isolation that’s required when a player is infected.

“You’re going to have some elements of players working in different groups within a squad to ensure that the contact is minimised, again in line with the same social distancing guidelines that are being put forth by the Spanish government.

“We understand that often in football, you need to take things match by match, and we think that this circumstance certainly needs to be taken step by step. It’s very easy for people to begin to imagine what matches would look like, what circumstances would like if the league eventually resumes. We certainly would love to see La Liga resuming by the month of June, but we want to make sure that we’re successfully implementing this first phase in order to move forward.”

📍 Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper
👍 Today, the players returned to the Club’s facilities. pic.twitter.com/STreGHAzBw

Health is more important, but what happens if a club loses a key player to a positive coronavirus test during the season resumption?

“I really wouldn’t want to speculate about what the actual dynamic of the season looks like. It’s about getting back to this new normal. And doing it step by step together with the government officials, but also with everybody else’s return to regular economic activity within Spanish society.”

No consistency across all European leagues?

“You know, again this is an unprecedented situation and every league is needing to make its own decisions, and obviously it needs to make them in close coordination with health authorities and with governments while recognising the situation on the ground in every country.

“You know in the case of La Liga we’ve been actively sharing our protocols as they’ve been developed, not only within our key stakeholders, but also governments and clubs so they can review the information we’ve been working on.

“We’ve also had the opportunity to be sharing it with sporting bodies around the world, including sporting bodies within European football, because we really do feel that this is a sector that makes important contributions to societies around the world, and that it’s important that we make our best efforts in a safe way to be able to get the professional sporting industry and football in particular back into activity.”

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois says giving title to Barca would be “unjust”…

  • Current La Liga table
  • Are Real Madrid targeting another rebuild?

“You know, one of the things that we all love about football is the competitiveness and the passion between supporters, between players, between people who love their clubs. And one of the exciting prospects of resuming La Liga and resuming professional football in general, is to see some of those questions answered, to see title races, to figure out who finishes in the top half and the bottom half of the table, important derby games that are still yet to be played.

“So I think we’re just looking forward to the talk once again being about the competition while understanding that we have a very important road ahead of us, and that we need to continue to take this in a step by step fashion.”

Eibar players fear “terrible consequences” of resumption…

“This is a new circumstance for everybody and it’s perfectly normal that participants in society and in football feel concerned, maybe even anxious about what it means for them to get back to normal economic activity. We’ve been working really hard to ensure that football can come back in a gradual and safe way.

“The goal here is that by the time we’ve gotten through this return to activity, that playing professional football will be as safe or safer than taking a trip to your local supermarket or going to the chemists on the high street, and really, we want to make sure that this is a process that ensures the safety and safeguards all those concerns that players and staff may have.”

If paramedics are on site, and testing kits are available for clubs, is that not taking them away from wider society?

“I think one of the important things in this has been our close coordination with the government and with health officials. And that’s why it’s so important for leagues to be in constant communication with key governmental experts and stakeholders, because it’s only with their guidance that you can roll out a plan that is feasible.

Source: Read Full Article

Oscar De La Hoya predicts he'd beat Conor McGregor inside two rounds

Oscar De La Hoya confident he could beat UFC star Conor McGregor in two rounds if they boxed… despite retiring 11 YEARS AGO: ‘One thing about me, I went for the kill, always’

  • Oscar De La Hoya believes he would comfortably defeat Conor McGregor
  • The 47-year-old hasn’t fought since losing to Manny Pacquiao in December 2008
  • UFC star McGregor has only boxed professional once – versus Floyd Mayweather 

He may have officially retired 11 years ago, but boxing great Oscar De La Hoya insists he would defeat Conor McGregor inside two rounds if they fought today.

De La Hoya’s last bout was in December 2008 when his corner stopped the contest after the eighth round against Manny Pacquiao. He then hung up the gloves in April 2009.

During his illustrious career, De La Hoya won 39 of his 45 professional fights – as he held multiple world titles in six weight classes.

Oscar De La Hoya says he would beat Conor McGregor inside two rounds if they boxed today

De La Hoya hasn’t fought since December 2008 when he was beaten by Manny Pacquiao

However, despite retiring in 2009 De La Hoya is confident he’d beat McGregor (above)

And Golden Boy is confident he would make it 40 if he fought UFC star McGregor in their latest war of words – despite age, 47 versus 31, and ring rust being against him.

‘Oh, come on, brother,’ De La Hoya told CBS Sports’ State of Combat podcast when asked how that fight would go. ‘Two rounds. Because one thing about me, I went for the kill, always.

‘And look, Conor McGregor is – I love him in The Octagon. I respect him. I watch him all the time.

‘But the boxing ring is a whole different story. It’s a whole different story.’

McGregor has only fought once in the boxing ring when he took on De La Hoya’s rival Floyd Mayweather in August 2017 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

McGregor lost to Floyd Mayweather in his only professional boxing bout back in August 2017

Then 29, the Irishman lost to the then-39-year-old Mayweather via TKO in the 10th round.

That contentious crossover fight was seen as potentially damaging boxing ‘s reputation – and De La Hoya agreed with as he took to Twitter to condemn it.

He said at the time: ‘F*** YOU Mayweather vs McGregor BOTH OF YOU ARE DISRESPECTING THE SPORT OF BOXING.’

Since his defeat by Mayweather, McGrgeor has returned to UFC – losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 but beating Donald Cerrone in January this year. 

In January, McGregor defeated Donald Cerrone in UFC 246 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas




Share this article

Source: Read Full Article

La Liga 'to resume soon' as Spanish government outline plans for sport

La Liga ‘to resume soon’ as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez outline plans for return of sport with individual training allowed on May 4

  • La Liga could be allowed to resume matches behind closed doors by mid-June 
  • Individual training to start on May 4 with group sessions beginning by May 11 
  • Spain has been one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The Spanish government have outlined plans for the return of sport following the coronavirus outbreak, meaning La Liga may be allowed to restart its season behind closed doors by mid-June.

 Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that individual training can begin again from May 4 as Phase 0, while Phase 1 and group sessions will be allowed by May 11.

Spain has been hit hard by the virus with more than 25,000 deaths to date, but the return of football contrasts to the approach taken by other countries including France which has already ruled out the return of football before September. 

La Liga may return behind closed doors by mid-June after a schedule was published

Sanchez said: ‘We hope that leagues and federations will come to a decision soon.

‘We already started to allow individual training sessions for team sports.

‘We hope [a return] will come sooner rather than later but we’ll see it first on television rather than in the stadiums, I’m afraid.’

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez admitted it may be a while before crowds were allowed

 




Share this article

Source: Read Full Article

La Liga stars given go ahead to return to individual training on May 4

La Liga stars given go ahead to return to individual training on May 4 but no date set for football in Spain to restart following coronavirus shutdown

  • La Liga is taking a step closer to returning with Phase 0 set to begin next week
  • But no date has been set for its restart amid the current global health crisis
  • Their plan comes on same day France’s Ligue 1 and 2 seasons were cancelled 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

La Liga is taking a step closer to returning with sport stars in Spain given the green light to return to training from May 4.

But no date has been set for the restart of the Spanish league as the country continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

The resumption of individual training sessions is part of Phase 0 in a schedule announced by Spanish president Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday.

La Liga stars like Lionel Messi could be back in individual training from next Monday

Plans have been drawn up for Real Madrid and Co to prepare for a resumption to the season

Spain has been one the hardest hit countries from the virus, and as of April 28 had announced nearly 24,000 deaths – the second most in Europe.

News of the possible return of La Liga this summer came on the same day as neighbours France ruled out a return in the near future.

Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have both been cancelled after the French prime minister demanded no football be played until September, either with or without fans. 

After Phase 0 is completed in Spain, training sessions at club centres will then be allowed in Phase 1, which will get underway on May 11.

La Liga president Javier Tebas wants to press on with plans to resume the current campaign

Plans for a resumption in Spain come after France’s Ligue 1 season was cancelled on Tuesday 

Added measures will remain in place, however, to try and avoid a second spike in coronavirus cases.

La Liga clubs have already been sent a detailed set of protocols to follow in training, which will build up from individual practices, smaller group sessions to full squad sessions. 

La Liga president Javier Tebas has already backed a controlled return to action. 

He said in a statement: ‘I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas.

‘If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football.

‘In other countries teams are already training, that’s the example to follow.

‘In Spain, football is an important economic driver that we need to reactivate like many others. We continue to focus on this reactivation, in a responsible manner and adhering to health recommendations, as soon as possible.’

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II as All England Club chiefs called the tournament off at an emergency meeting.

It was considered impossible for the tournament to be moved back to later in the year, or to be played without fans, and so chiefs have pulled the plug entirely.

This is the first time that Wimbledon will not be staged since 1945. Only one Grand Slam has missed a year since the war, the 1986 Australian Open, and that was for the technical reason of the date shifting forward from December into January. 

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since World War II

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 




Share this article

Source: Read Full Article