The Latest: Italy urges sports to develop health protocols

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The nationwide lockdown in Italy has been extended through May 3 but Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora is urging the country’s sports federations to develop health protocols in order to resume activity on May 4.

Spadafora urges sports authorities “not to let these weeks be lost” and to urgently make plans for when the lockdown expires.

Previously, the lockdown was set to expire on Monday.

The extension came as the number of people in Italian hospitals and intensive care wards eases and the growth in the number of new cases and deaths is narrowing.

Experts have said it will take a decrease in the number of cases to enter a so-called Phase II, allowing more freedom of movement to individuals but with precautions to guard against any new outbreaks.

Italy has suffered the most deaths of any nation, nearly 19,000, and is nearing 150,000 cases, hitting 147,577 on Friday.

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The Milwaukee Bucks have established an emergency relief fund for part-time employees of FiServ Forum, the team’s home arena.

The Bucks Emergency Relief Fund will provide financial relief for part-time employees of the arena’s food and beverage provider, housekeeping employer and parking partners.

The relief fund also will assist part-time employees at the Menominee Nation Arena. That’s the home arena for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ NBA G League affiliate.

So far, the Bucks have provided $500,000 in financial assistance to the part-time employees, and an additional $500,000 is on the way through the relief fund.

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and All-Star forward Khris Middleton have contributed $100,000 each. All their Bucks teammates have committed to donate to the cause. Bucks ownership is matching all player donations.

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Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says one team employee — not a player — tested positive for the coronavirus and is “on the road to getting better.”

Rizzo says no players for the reigning World Series champions have shown any symptoms of COVID-19 at any point and so no one has been tested.

He said the team’s medical staff checks in each day with every player and staff member.

According to Rizzo, the employee who got the illness was at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, and now is home and his quarantine has ended. Rizzo said the employee is fever-free and symptom-free.

Rizzo did not identify the person who was sick other than to say it is not someone who plays for the Nationals -- “and we’re going to keep it at that.” The GM said the person tested positive “well after” the Nationals already had shut down their facilities in Florida and Washington.

Rizzo also said Friday on a conference call with reporters that the Nationals are partnering with chef José Andrés to distribute tens of thousands of meals per day to people in need in parts of Washington.

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Portuguese officials have defended Cristiano Ronaldo after he left home and was seen training with other people at a soccer pitch amid a national lockdown to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The incident occurred on the island of Madeira, his birthplace. He was observed shooting a ball at a goal with someone playing goalkeeper, along with two other people. They all appeared to be several meters apart.

“Cristiano did solely a few minutes of exercize and from that comes no harm to the world,” regional health authority Carlos Ramos said.

“All citizens can go out and do some physical exercize as long as they do not gather in big groups and keep their distance from other people they may encounter while exercizing,” Ramos said. “So I think that Cristiano did only what we have seen.”

Portugal has been under a state of emergency for three weeks. People are confined to their homes, but they can leave to exercize individually. The country has more than 15,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 435 deaths.

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Basketball’s Sabrina Ionescu, soccer’s Carli Lloyd and swimming’s Katie Ledecky are among the athletes who will help young girls and women stay mentally and physically fit during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Women’s Sports Foundation and Yahoo Sports are launching #WeKeepPlaying, a live-stream event on Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT. They’ll join tennis great Billie Jean King and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in taking questions from young athletes and providing tips on resilience and training.

King says it’s about “bringing together our community of prominent women athletes and leaders to empower, support and inspire young girls — and each other — during this unprecedented time.”

Sports broadcaster Cari Champion will moderate the hour discussion, streamed on YahooSports.com.

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On what would have been the final day of the Masters, ESPN will show some masterful spellers.

The network says it will broadcast a seven-hour marathon of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Sunday.

This year’s spelling bee has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. It had been scheduled for late May at its usual location, a convention center outside Washington. Scripps hopes to reschedule the bee at an undetermined time this year.

ESPN has televised the bee since 1994. On Sunday, it will first show the 1997 bee, which was memorably won by Rebecca Sealfon of Brooklyn, New York. Sealfon’s excitement when she was given her winning word of “euonym” — a name well suited to the person, place or thing named — became a classic spelling bee moment when she yelled out each letter.

ESPN will also show the 2004 bee won by David Tidmarsh of South Bend, Indiana, and the 2008 bee won by Sameer Mishra of Lafayette, Indiana.

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The French tennis federation has set up a support plan worth 35 million euros ($38 million) to help professional players facing financial problems because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The FFT says it has approved the scheme that will also benefit clubs, coaches, instructors, officials and tournament organizers affected by the health crisis.

The FFT says practical arrangements for the allocation still need to be discussed.

The ATP and WTA announced this month that the men’s and women’s professional tours would be suspended until at least July 13. Wimbledon has been canceled because of the deadly virus while the start of the French Open has been postponed from late May to late September.

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Florida State offensive lineman Andrew Boselli says he had the coronavirus and detailed some of what his famous father went through in his own fight against COVID-19.

The son of former NFL lineman Tony Boselli says in a first-person account he wrote for Florida State’s athletic department website that he dealt with the worst of the virus for about three days.

The Seminoles’ lineman wrote that he wants “everyone to know just how hard it was. I spent days feeling miserable” and his healthy 47-year-old father with no underlying health conditions “spent three days in the intensive care unit.”

Tony Boselli is now back home and Andrew Boselli says he and his family are recovering from the massive scare. He says his brother and mother also dealt with the virus.

Andrew Boselli says he’s looking forward to being around fellow students and teammates again but added a word of caution by writing “the only way for that to happen is listen to the experts and follow their guidance.”

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Turkmenistan is set to restart its suspended soccer league amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Central Asian nation will become part of a small group of countries around the world where professional soccer is being played despite the virus outbreak. That includes the former Soviet nations of Belarus and Tajikistan, as well as Burundi and Nicaragua.

The eight-team Turkmenistan league was suspended on March 24. The national soccer federation says it will resume on April 19. Fans will be allowed to attend games.

Turkmenistan has not reported any cases of the coronavirus.

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The Russian sports minister says it’s time for international authorities to “turn a new page” and forget the country’s Olympic doping ban because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The World Anti-Doping Agency barred Russia from the Olympics for four years after ruling last year that doping data from a Moscow laboratory had been manipulated. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is to rule on whether the ban is valid but hearings have been delayed because of the health crisis.

Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin says the virus outbreak means the parties in the legal proceedings should avoid a ruling against Russia because it would fracture the Olympic movement.

He adds that “when you see that everyone is isolated and everyone is at home ... people understand that now there are priorities and there are issues which go on the backburner. The priority is the future of the Olympic movement.”

Matytsin says sanctioning Russia would damage the Olympic movement and says the country is prepared to host more international sports events once the virus outbreak recedes.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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