Major League Baseball is delaying the start of its season by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak and suspended the rest of its spring training game schedule.
Opening day had been scheduled for March 26.
MLB continued to play into Thursday and the announcement came while some exhibitions were still going on. But baseball changed course after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he strongly recommended to local authorities and organizers that they limit all mass gatherings.
“MLB and the clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule,” the commissioner's office said in a statement. “MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”
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 following a 7 1/2-month strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series. Opening day was pushed back from April 2 to April 26.
Spring training games were suspended as of 4 p.m. Thursday. Qualifying games for the 2021 World Baseball Classic also were called off.
The University of Kansas has announced that all athletic travel has been canceled indefinitely. That means the top-ranked Jayhawks, at this point, would not take part in the NCAA Tournament for men's basketball next week.
Duke previously suspended all athletic competition for the foreseeable future.
Kansas athletic director Jeff Long says the decision was made based on the recommendation of medical professionals.
The Jayhawks have been the presumptive favorite to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA announced Wednesday it would be held without fans.
Said coach Bill Self: “While we are disappointed for the players, it was the right and necessary thing to do.”
Football season is months away, but spring practice for college teams was in full swing around the country. That is being put on hold in many places, too.
Southern Cal and Notre Dame both announced they would suspended practice as their campuses shut down. The SEC's suspension of sport through March will also take football teams off the practice fields.
The PGA Tour plans to keep playing, just without anyone watching from outside the ropes because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Commissioner Jay Monahan said Thursday that fans will not be allowed at the final three days of The Players Championship or three other tournaments — one in Florida, two in Texas — leading up to the Masters.
Fans were on the TPC Sawgrass on Thursday before the announcement and were allowed to stay as long as they wanted. Monahan said the policy was effective through the Valero Texas Open on April 2-5. That's the final event before the Masters, which is operated by Augusta National Golf Club.
Augusta National said last week it was monitoring the spread of the new coronavirus. The club has a history of not making quick decisions, and no updates were expected until next week at the earliest.
Major League Baseball is likely to cancel the rest of its spring training game schedule due to the coronavirus. MLB probably will also announce that the start of the season will be delayed, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no decision had been announced. They said Commissioner Rob Manfred planned a conference call with his executive council Thursday to discuss the situation and then a call with team owners.
MLB had continued to play into Thursday, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he strongly recommended to local authorities and organizers that they limit all mass gatherings.
The major league season had been scheduled to start March 26, its earliest opening other than for international games.
Duke University says it has suspended all athletic competition “for the foreseeable future” amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.
That suspension includes all practices. The announcement came about an hour after the Atlantic Coast Conference canceled the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament. The 10th-ranked Blue Devils were scheduled to play their first tournament game in Greensboro against North Carolina State in the afternoon.
In a statement, Duke president Vincent E. Price called it “clearly an unprecedented moment for our university.” And Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said he supported the move, saying: “The welfare of our student athletes, and all students at Duke, is paramount, and this decision reflects that institutional priority.”
NASCAR will race the next two weekends without fans.
The events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race.
NASCAR is working with public health officials to determine future scheduling beyond those events.
The NHL is following the NBA’s lead and suspending its season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the pause of the season amid concerns about the new coronavirus. The NBA announced Wednesday night it was suspending play, after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
Several NBA and NHL teams share arenas.
The NHL has not said any player has tested positive for COVID-19. The league is halting play with 189 games left in the regular season, sparking uncertainty about how many more, if any, could be played before the playoffs.
Bettman said the NHL has tried to follow mandates of health experts and local authorities without taking premature or unnecessary measures." Bettman's statement said the NBA's news made it “no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”
A spokeswoman for the women's tennis tour tells The Associated Press that the WTA is not moving to suspend its tournaments for six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic the way the men's tour did.
Amy Binder says in an email to the AP that the WTA will announce information about upcoming events "shortly."
But Binder says that "at this point in time" the WTA is "not looking to" impose a six-week suspension the way the ATP did earlier Thursday.
The Big East Conference basketball tournament has been canceled at halftime of Thursday's first game because of the coronavirus outbreak.
As several other big conferences around the country canceled their postseason tournaments, the Big East resumed on schedule at New York's Madison Square Garden. It started its second-round game between top-seeded Creighton and St. John's at Madison Square Garden and not until halftime was the tournament called off with St. John's leading 38-35.
As the Bluejays and Red Storm were playing, a few subway stops away at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Atlantic 10 Conference was holding a news conference to called off its tournament.
The Big 12 is canceling all of its championships through April 15, including upcoming gymnastics and equestrian meets, and will reassess the rest of its spring sports schedule April 15.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he anticipated a conference-wide policy for spring football, though athletic directors have not yet discussed a plan.
The league anticipates a heavy financial hit from refunded ticket sales to its men's and women's basketball tournaments and having to adjust the rights fees it receives from its TV partners.
Bowlsby also said that nobody from the conference, including staff members, coaches and players, had fallen ill or been tested for coronavirus.
The Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences have gone beyond canceling just their men's basketball tournaments.
The SEC announced within an hour of canceling the tournament that the league was suspending regular-season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses as well as league championships until March 30.
The Pac-12 said it was scrapping all league championship events and all competitions effective immediately and until further notice.
As several other big conferences around the country canceled their postseason tournaments, the Big East resumed on schedule, with seventh-ranked and top-seeded Creighton playing ninth-seeded St. John's in the first of four quarterfinal games set for Thursday.
Moments before the opening tip, there appeared to be some question about whether the game would be played. The teams emerged from their locker rooms later than normal for pregame layup lines, but the public address announcer went ahead with player introductions. The Creighton pep band performed the national anthem at a mostly empty Madison Square Garden.
Players waited on the court for a go-ahead past the scheduled noon tip time, but at 12:06 p.m., official James Breeding gave a thumbs-up to St. John's coach Mike Anderson, and the game began.
All five Power Five conferences have canceled their basketball tournaments, putting the NCAA Tournament in doubt.
The Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 conferences were all preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.
The NCAA had announced Wednesday that it planned to play its men's and women's tournament games that start next week with restricted access for the general public. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games.
The ACC announced the cancellation about 10 minutes before the scheduled start of Thursday’s first quarterfinal game featuring No. 4 Florida State and Clemson. With the tournament scrapped, the Seminoles will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the regular-season title.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford presented the Seminoles with the tournament trophy on the court, while the Tigers joined them on the court instead of tipping off their game.
The men's NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. March Madness draws hundreds of thousands of fans to arenas from coast to coast
The International Tennis Federation has postponed all of its sanctioned tournaments for six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining the men's professional tour in suspending action.
The ITF oversees various junior, wheelchair and lower-tier events.
The group says no tournaments on the men's and women's ITF World Tennis Tour, the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors, the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour or ITF Seniors Tour will take place until at least the week of April 20.
The men's tour announced earlier Thursday it was calling off ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The WTA women's tour has not made any comment so far related to its schedule.
The Champions League match between Manchester City and Real Madrid has been postponed after the Spanish team puts its players in quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Madrid has ordered its soccer and basketball teams to remain in isolation after one of the basketball players tested positive for the virus.
No new date for the second-leg match in the last 16 was announced. City leads 2-1 from the first leg in Madrid.
The 12 Hours of Sebring scheduled to run in Florida next weekend has been rescheduled because of the ban on travel from Europe. Many teams that compete in IMSA’s sports car events use European drivers and team members.
The race was rescheduled as the IMSA season finale to be held Nov. 11-14 at Sebring International Raceway.
IndyCar and NASCAR are still mulling options. IndyCar has been told by the Mayor of St. Petersburg that fans cannot attend Sunday’s season-opening race. NASCAR received the same message for next week’s racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Several college basketball conference tournaments have been canceled moments before tipoff, putting the NCAA Tournament at risk.
The Big Ten, Big 12 and the SEC tournaments announced they were off, and other conferences were expected to follow suit.
The men’s NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. March Madness draws hundreds of thousands of fans to arenas from coast to coast.
Major League Soccer is shutting down because of the coronavirus, according to Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas.
Mas says the target period for the hiatus is 30 days.
He told players and coaches, then held a news conference and says, “We’ve made a decision as a league this morning, as owners, that play will be suspended temporarily.”
The expansion team owned by Mas and former England captain David Beckham had been scheduled to play its home opener Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Sun Belt became the latest Division I conference to announce it will restrict fan access to its basketball tournament games.
The men’s and women’s semifinals and finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, home of the NBA’s Pelicans and site of the women’s Final Four in April, will be played with only essential staff, some media and limited immediate family members of players and coaches allowed in the arena.
The Belgian soccer league has backpedaled on its decision to keep stadiums open to fans despite the coronavirus outbreak.
The league says that the last round of regular-season matches in the top league scheduled this weekend will be played in empty stadiums. The Belgian Cup final between Brugge and Antwerp scheduled on March 22 was postponed to a date yet to be announced.
The Belgian federation added that all youth and amateur soccer have been canceled until March 31, and the Belgian national team’s trip to Qatar scheduled this month also has been canceled. Belgium, Portugal, Croatia and Switzerland had planned to play friendly games ahead of the European Championship at a mini tournament in the Gulf emirate.
A person with direct knowledge of the discussions tells The Associated Press that a recommendation has been made to the International Ice Hockey Federation to cancel the men’s world championships in Switzerland.
The recommendation will be taken up for a vote by IIHF members on Thursday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because a decision has not yet been reached. The recommendation comes days after the IIHF canceled the women’s worlds set to begin in late March in Nova Scotia.
The person said U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday to ban travel from Europe led to the recommendation to cancel the world championships. The monthlong travel ban leads to uncertainty over whether NHL players, who traditionally make up many of the competing nations’ rosters, will be able to travel from North America.
The 16-nation tournament is scheduled to open on May 8.
In other hockey developments, the National Women’s Hockey League postponed its Isobel Cup final scheduled for Friday night in Boston. It did not provide a new date.
And the NHL announced the cancellation of morning skates and practices.
- Reporting by AP Hockey Writers John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno
Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford says the league men’s basketball tournament is ready to hold games as scheduled Thursday without fans in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Swofford held a news conference Thursday morning, a few hours before the first of four quarterfinal games. The league had announced Wednesday that it wouldn’t allow the general public into tournament games amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus that has become a global pandemic.
Swofford called it “a very fluid situation” that “changes daily now, and may well be changing hourly.”
Swofford said: “We want to provide an opportunity to continue to compete in this tournament for our players. Our understanding and belief is that that is what they would want.”
Swofford’s comments came at the start of the third day of the five-day event, after fans had attended six games at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Thursday’s games includes No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 Duke, No. 15 Louisville and No. 17 Virginia. The games will be held with only essential personnel, teams, player guests and credentialed media in attendance.
Swofford said he spoke with the commissioners of the other Power Five conferences, all of which are set to play basketball games today with few fans in the arenas.
The NCAA announced Wednesday it planned to conduct its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments next week with only essential staff and some family members of teams in the building.
A second player from Italy’s top soccer division has tested positive for coronavirus.
Sampdoria says 28-year-old forward Manolo Gabbiadini “has a fever but he’s doing well.” The Serie A club and adds that it is “activating all the isolation procedures provided for by law.”
That is likely to include self-isolation for all players and staff.
Gabbiadini, who also plays for Italy’s national team, wrote on Twitter “I too tested positive for Coronavirus. I want to thank all those who wrote to me, I’ve already received so very many messages. But I still want to reassure you that I’m fine, so don’t worry. Follow the rules, stay home and everything will sort itself out.”
On Wednesday, Juventus announced that defender Daniele Rugani had tested positive.
The outbreak of the virus has led to a nationwide lockdown in Italy, where soccer and all other sports have been suspended until April 3.
The ATP has suspended all men’s professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.
No ATP Tour or ATP Challenger Tour events will take place through the week of April 20.
The tournament at Indian Wells, California, scheduled to begin main-draw play Wednesday already had been called off.
The affected events are the Miami Open, the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.
The next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, is still scheduled to be held in Paris beginning May 24.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers says “a few” of his players have symptoms of coronavirus and are being kept away from the squad.
Rodgers was speaking two days before Leicester plays Watford in the Premier League. He didn’t say whether there had been any positive tests for the virus.
Only one Premier League game has been affected so far amid the outbreak, with Manchester City’s home match against Arsenal on Wednesday called off. That decision was taken after members of Arsenal’s playing squad went into self-isolation in a precautionary move.
The Pakistan Super League is closing Twenty20 cricket games in Karachi to spectators from Friday after advice from the Sindh provincial government.
The Pakistan Cricket Board said “it was important for us to act quickly to ensure that the wellbeing of all concerned is better protected” from the coronavirus outbreak but the Karachi Kings’ home game on Thursday against Lahore Qalanders went ahead with spectators.
Spectators are barred from league games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and a playoff on Tuesday.
One other league match and three playoff matches, including the final on March 22, are in Lahore. The board said it was in contact with the Punjab provincial government about any health advice for the Lahore matches.
The Miami Open tennis tournament that was scheduled to start later this month has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The tournament had been scheduled for March 23-April 5 in Miami Gardens. The tournament moved there last year from its former home on Key Biscayne.
Virtually all of the world’s top players had been scheduled to participate except Roger Federer, who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
It’s the second postponement of a top tennis tournament in five days. The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, was postponed Sunday, less than 24 hours before qualifying matches were scheduled to begin.
The Toronto Raptors say they will go into self-quarantine because they recently played against the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert.
Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, members of the Raptors traveling party have been tested for the virus. We await those results. Our players, coaches and traveling staff have all been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days, which means minimizing contact in accordance with public health guidelines. Our team doctors remain in communication with infection control specialists and public health authorities, and we will continue to abide by their advice,” the Raptors said.
The Washington Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations personnel are going to self-quarantine for the next three to four days.
The Wizards played at the Utah Jazz — who have a player, Rudy Gobert, that tested positive for COVID-19 — on Feb. 29. Washington also played Tuesday against the New York Knicks, another recent opponent of the Jazz.
The Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations staff who have flu-like symptoms will be tested for coronavirus.
UEFA has called European soccer stakeholders to a meeting by video conference on Tuesday to deal with the effect on competitions of the coronavirus outbreak.
UEFA says they will discuss “all domestic and European competitions.” That includes this year’s European Championship.
The meetings will involve UEFA member federations and representatives of clubs, national leagues and player unions.
There is no blanket suspension of soccer across the continent, but national leagues have been shut down by public authorities in some countries, including Italy and Spain.
The International Fencing Federation has postponed all international events for the next five weeks, including four Olympic qualifying tournaments.
The FIE made the decision after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, and the U.S. banned travelers from 26 European countries starting on Friday.
The events postponed included the Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas qualifiers next month. Also off is the Anaheim Grand Prix in California starting on Friday, and the junior world championships in Salt Lake City next month.
Four World Cups in saber and epee next week were also called off.
“Full details regarding the rescheduling of competitions will be announced at a later date,” the FIE said. “Information regarding Olympic selection criteria will be made as schedules for the remainder of the season are finalized.”
The Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament could be staged without spectators after a government decree related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Indian sports minister Kiren Rijuju told all national sports federations to ban spectators at all events, but events can go on if they “can’t be avoided.”
The decision impacts the hugely popular IPL, due to start on March 29 and last seven weeks.
It’s not yet been determined how it will affect the one-day international series between India and South Africa which began on Thursday in Dharamsala. The second ODI is in Lucknow on Sunday, and the third ODI in Kolkata next Wednesday.
Foreign players are expected to face difficulties in traveling to India as the government on Wednesday suspended all visas, barring categories such as diplomatic and employment-related, until April 15 in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Unless the government makes an exception, foreign cricketers will not be given business visas with which they travel to play the IPL.
McLaren says it has withdrawn from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne after a team member tested positive for the coronavirus.
The British-based team says the person was self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and “will now enter a period of quarantine.”
Team officials have taken the decision to pull out of Sunday’s race “based on a duty of care” for McLaren employees and the wider Formula One family.
Qualifying was scheduled to start Friday.
Real Madrid says its soccer and basketball teams have been put in quarantine after a basketball play for the club tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Spanish club says the soccer team was also affected because it shares training facilities with the basketball team.
German broadcaster Sky says it will show some Bundesliga soccer games on a free channel after spectators were barred from the stadiums.
Sky will show four league games simultaneously on Saturday on its non-subscription news channel in a “conference” format, with the broadcast switching between each game to show the key action.
That includes Borussia Dortmund’s game against Schalke, which is one of Germany’s most heated rivalries.
There will be a similar procedure for some second-division games.
South Korea’s professional baseball league says it will postpone the start of its season to mid-April because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Korea Baseball Organization says it still hopes to maintain a 144-game regular-season schedule but will consider banning spectators from some games when risks of infections are high.
The KBO had already canceled its preseason.
The Euroleague says it is suspending all games indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Europe’s main club basketball competition says it made the decision because of “the increased risks for participants in games, the vast amount of traveling disruptions causing the impossibility to reach certain destinations, and the different recommendations by the health authorities.”
The league was scheduled to hold regular-season games in Moscow, Istanbul, Madrid and Tel Aviv on Thursday.
The International Basketball Federation says it is suspending all competitions indefinitely from Friday.
FIBA says the decision was made “in order to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans.”
The suspension includes games in the Basketball Champions League, which is a rival competition to the better known Euroleague, and the second-tier FIBA Europe Cup. The Champions League is part-way through its playoffs.
Men’s qualification for the Tokyo Olympics is expected to resume in June with a series of qualifying tournaments overseen by FIBA. Women’s qualifying has already concluded.
The hockey-like game of bandy has postponed its world championships in Russia because of the spreading coronavirus.
The Swedish Bandy Association says the tournament, scheduled to be played from March 29-April 5 in Irkutsk, has been postponed until October.
International Bandy Association president Boris Skrynnik says “we know that there are concerns in other countries when it comes to travel and spending time with larger groups.”
The under-15 world championships in Arkhangelsk, Russia, at the end of the month will also be played at a later date.
Denmark’s top soccer leagues are shutting down for at least two weeks because of the spreading coronavirus.
The Danish league made the move a day after the national government announced a lockdown. The small Scandinavian country has 514 cases of people testing positive.
“We will look at exactly what this will mean for the running of the tournaments for the weeks to come,” said Danish league director Claus Thomsen, adding more information on what will happen with the postponed matches and the rest of the season will be announced later.
The Swiss hockey league has ended the season in the top two divisions before the playoffs because of the spreading coronavirus.
The league’s decision comes less than two months before Switzerland is due to host the world championships in Zurich and Lausanne.
The league says decisions on awarding titles, and promotion and relegation places, will be decided at a special meeting on Friday.
The Swiss soccer leagues have been suspended through March, and Basel is unable to host a Europa League game next week against Eintracht Frankfurt.
After the NBA suspended its season, the Euroleague is considering doing the same.
The league says it is consulting with clubs about a suspension, something which its players are demanding.
“Euroleague and the participating clubs cannot ask from players to put their health and that of their families at risk,” the Euroleague Players Association said.
The players’ union asked for the season to be suspended “until health, safety and freedom of movement can be guaranteed.”
The Juventus player who tested positive for the coronavirus says he’s “OK” and wants “to reassure everyone who is worrying about me.”
Juventus announced late Wednesday that defender Daniele Rugani and “those who have had contact with him” are being isolated. It also said Rugani is not showing any symptoms of the disease.
Rugani sent a post on Twitter overnight in Italian.
“You’ll have read the news and that’s why I want to reassure everyone who is worrying about me. I’m OK. I want to remind everyone to respect the rules, because this virus doesn’t make distinctions! Let’s do it four ourselves, for those dear to us and for those around us,” he wrote.
Rugani is the first player in the country’s top soccer division to test positive for the virus.
The season-ending men’s World Cup ski races were canceled Thursday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, giving Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde his first overall title.
Giant slalom and slalom races were scheduled for this weekend in Kranjska Gora, near Slovenia’s border with Italy.
The cancellations mean Henrik Kristoffersen, another Norwegian, becomes the season champion in both disciplines by tiny margins.
A four-race finals week in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, was canceled last week by the International Ski Federation.
“The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders,” the governing body said Thursday.
Kilde’s runner-up finish in what proved to be the season-ending race — a downhill last Saturday in Kvitfjell, Norway — lifted him to the overall title above French rival Alexis Pinturault.
Pinturault also finished runner-up to Kristoffersen in giant slalom. Another Frenchman, Clement Noel, was runner-up to Kristoffersen for the season-long slalom title by only two points, 552-550.
Kristoffersen had an outside chance of winning the overall title if the final two races had gone ahead.
Kilde succeeds Austrian great Marcel Hirscher, who won eight straight overall titles before retiring in the offseason.
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