March Madness: NCAA Tournaments canceled due to coronavirus

By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Sports Writer
The NCAA has canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of the spread of coronavirus. The move puts an abrupt end to the season less than a month before champions were to be crowned. The decision comes a day after the NCAA announced the games that were scheduled to start next week would go on but played in mostly empty arenas. That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league from the NBA to MLB put the brakes on its season due to concerns about the pandemic. The NCAA canceled all of its spring championships in every sport, which include hockey, baseball and lacrosse.

Gobert health scare shuts down NBA, teammate tests positive

By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
It started as a joke: Before leaving a post-practice interview session Rudy Gobert touched all the tape recorders that were placed before him on a table, devices that reporters who cover the Utah Jazz were using during an availability with him on Monday. It isn’t so funny now _ not with two Jazz players now having tested positive for the virus and with a league on edge. Gobert is now the NBA’s Patient Zero for coronavirus after becoming the first player in the league to test positive. And on Thursday, Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive as well.

Power 5 leagues scrap tournaments, putting NCAAs in doubt

By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Sports Writer
The biggest conferences in college sports all canceled their basketball tournaments because of the new coronavirus, putting the celebrated NCAA Tournament in doubt. The Power 5 conferences are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference. Within minutes of each other, they announced that the remainder of their tournaments would not be played. All were preparing to play games in large arenas, but with few people in the buildings. Following the NCAA’s lead on Wednesday, most college conferences announced that their basketball tournaments would be conducted with limited fan access. By Thursday, after the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night, several Division I conferences decided not to play at all.


NHL ‘pausing’ season amid coronavirus concerns

The NHL is following the NBA’s lead and suspending its season amid the coronavirus outbreak. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the league is “pausing” its season. The move comes a day after the NBA suspended play following a player’s positive COVID-19 test. The NHL has not said any player has tested positive for the virus. The NHL is halting play with 189 games left in the regular season and sparking uncertainty about how many more if any could be go on before the playoffs. A handful of European hockey leagues have already called off the remainder of their seasons.


MLB delays opening day by at least 2 weeks because of virus

By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is delaying the start of its season by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. Opening day had been scheduled for March 26. MLB also has suspended the rest of its spring training game schedule. MLB had continued to play into Thursday but changed course after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he strongly recommended to local authorities and organizers that they limit all mass gatherings. The March 26 start had been baseball’s earliest scheduled opening other than for international games. MLB had not had a mass postponement of openers since 1995, when the season was shortened from 162 games to 144 after a strike.

Statement from Minor League Baseball:

“In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, and after consultation with medical professionals and our partners at Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball will delay the start of the 2020 Championship Season. We will continue to monitor the developments and will announce additional information about the 2020 season at a later date. We will work with Major League Baseball and our community partners to resume play as soon as it is safe to do so. The health and safety of Minor League Baseball fans, players and executives is our top priority, and our thoughts are with those around the world who have been affected by this outbreak.”


NFL teams curtailing or stopping scouting operations

By BARRY WILNER AP Pro Football Writer
NFL teams are curtailing or completely stopping scouting operations as a safeguard against the spread of the new coronavirus. The Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets have ordered their scouts and assistant coaches to return home. Other teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, have cut back on scouting in what is usually a busy time for evaluating college players. The NFL draft is schedule for April 23-25 in Las Vegas.


PGA Tour to carry on without spectators for the next month

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Tour plans to keep playing, just without anyone watching from outside the ropes. Commissioner Jay Monahan says fans will not be allowed for the final three rounds of The Players Championship and the next three weeks up until the Masters. That affects the Valspar Championship in Tampa, the Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas, and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Augusta National has not said what it will do for the Masters. Monahan says golf is different from other sports canceling events because it’s outdoor over expansive property.


“At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race. We will work with public health officials as we determine future scheduling beyond these events.” — NASCAR statement


MLS shutting down for 30 days due to coronavirus

By TIM REYNOLDS AP Sports Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Major League Soccer is shutting down for 30 days because of the coronavirus, delaying the home opener for the expansion team co-owned by former England captain David Beckham. MLS Commissioner says the decision was based on advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities. Beckham and Jorge Mas co-own Inter Miami, which had been scheduled to play its home opener Saturday. MLS started its season on Feb. 29 and each of the 26 teams has played two league matches.

Bundesliga games under threat as coronavirus spreads

By CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports Writer
BERLIN (AP) — Calls to scrap the rest of the Bundesliga season are growing as Europe struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak. This weekend’s games in Germany are all to be played without fans and it’s likely that all games in the second division will also be in empty stadiums. But Hannover has announced that all its players were to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution after two team members tested positive for the virus. The club was going to ask the league to postpone its next two games against Dynamo Dresden and Osnabrück.

Champions League games postponed as virus hits world soccer

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The deepening virus outbreak has prompted the cancellation of Champions League soccer for the first time. The high-profile match between Manchester City and Real Madrid was postponed along with the Juventus game against Lyon. Both were scheduled for Tuesday. The soccer calendar was becoming increasingly fragmented as the pandemic took its toll on leagues and cup competitions. The Spanish league was postponed for the next two rounds and Dutch soccer authorities canceled all matches until the end of the month. Major League Soccer in the United States was also shutting down for a 30-day period.

AP source: UEFA to decide on plan to postpone Euros a year

By ROB HARRIS AP Global Soccer Writer
A person with knowledge of the situation has told The Associated Press on Thursday that UEFA is nearing a decision to postpone the European Championship by a year to 2021 as the continent grapples with the outbreak of the coronavirus. The governing body is assessing the options over what to do with its flagship national teams’ competition. A final decision will come when the UEFA executive committee meets on Tuesday after talks with clubs and leagues. But the person said delaying Euro 2020 by a year is the main option now being explored at UEFA.


ATP, ITF tennis tours halted 6 weeks because of coronavirus

The ATP has called off all men’s professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But a WTA spokeswoman tells The Associated Press that the women’s tour was not immediately prepared to do the same. Amy Binder wrote in an email to the AP that the WTA will announce information about upcoming events “shortly.” She said that “at this point in time,” the WTA was “not looking to” impose a six-week suspension. The International Tennis Federation said its lower-tier events would be on hold until April 22. The men’s tour said its tournaments would not resume before the end of that week.

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