The Latest: Czechs set up 173 athletics meets for single day
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
The Czech Athletics Federation has responded to loosened lockdown restrictions by organizing 173 meetings across the country in a single day — Monday.
All age categories will participate, and three of the meetings will include the country’s elite athletes, including two-time Olympic javelin champion Barbora Spotakova and three-time indoor world 400-meter champion Pavel Maslak.
The initiative has been celebrated by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
“It’s a really powerful template for all our other member federations,” Coe said in a conference call with Czech media on Friday. “A template how you engage the athletes, younger people, and the fans.”
Gatherings of up to 300 people are allowed in the Czech Republic, which hasn't been hit hard by the pandemic compared to some in Europe. The top two soccer divisions have already restarted, and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova won this week in the first of a series of tennis tournaments organized by the Czech Tennis Federation for local players.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says the state’s five professional sports teams — the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, New England Patriots and Revolution — can resume practicing at their respective facilities on June 6.
But Baker made clear the reopening of those facilities must be done in accordance with the health and safety rules that each of the leagues are developing.
The Celtics announced they will begin voluntary individual workouts at their facility on Monday. Workouts will be conducted in accordance with city, state, CDC and NBA requirements, with only four players allowed to workout at a time.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday following an owners conference call the virtual offseason is being extended for two more weeks. In a memo sent to the 32 teams and obtained by The Associated Press, he outlined the next phase of reopening of club facilities, which can begin Monday.
NBA teams have allowed players back at their training facilities for voluntary sessions since May 8, with more than half of the league’s franchises having already taken advantage of that opportunity.
The NHL, which is ironing out details to resume its season by jumping straight to a 24-team playoff format, released a memo this week saying it is targeting early next month as the start date for Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol. It includes the opening of practice rinks and allowing small, voluntary group workouts on and off the ice.
The Minnesota Twins are planning to continue paying all of their minor league players through Aug. 31, despite the decreasing likelihood of a minor league season due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Twins are one of at least 11 major league franchises that have informed minor leaguers they’ll continue to provide allowances after the expiration on Sunday of Major League Baseball’s pandemic-prompted policy guaranteeing those players $400 per week. The Twins, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners have said they’re promising payments through August. Other clubs have committed through June.
The Twins also said Friday they don't plan to release any minor league players, as several major league parent clubs have reportedly done this week.
-- Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis
Pocono Raceway will hold its NASCAR weekend without fans.
The Cup Series is scheduled to race June 27-28 and Truck and second-tier Xfinity races also will be held that weekend. Pocono says in a message to fans “it will certainly miss your passion, laughs, cheers, and smiles as the green flag drops in the Pocono Mountains.”
Pocono says it will expedite a refund or account credit.
Pocono Raceway is in Monroe County, which is under a yellow designation. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said earlier this month that if the county moved to yellow, then NASCAR may hold the two races with no spectators present and guidelines followed to keep competitors safe.
The White Sox are using a pair of Chicago-themed T-shirts to raise money for the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.
The limited-edition shirts are on sale on the team website.
The team says net proceeds from the sale will go to the response fund, which supports nonprofit organizations and agencies offering help with the coronavirus crisis. The White Sox and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls also committed $200,000 to support the fund in March.
The French soccer league says teams can play friendlies in July with a view to starting the new season in August.
The remaining matches in men’s and women’s soccer this season were canceled.
The French league said in a statement on Friday it expects the new season “will be able to start as anticipated in August with friendly games to prepare in July.”
The league added it was working on how to allow fans back into stadiums when the season starts.
North Carolina has issued a timeline for athletes, coaches and athletics staffers to return to campus in stages through June and later into the summer.
The plan announced begins with facilities staffers arriving Monday to prepare for the first athletes and coaches to arrive June 12. That group will consist of coaches and staff for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, along with the first group of football players.
The schedule runs through early August.
The plan calls for athletes to follow measures such as self-quarantining or wearing a mask in public for at least a week before returning. It outlines testing protocols while requiring athletes and employees to wear masks inside facilities when it’s difficult to follow social-distancing practices.
“We’re in lockstep with the campus plan,” athletics director Bubba Cunningham told The Associated Press. “We are hopeful that we’ll have spectators in the fall but we don’t have a home game — at least a home football game — for 3½ months. So while we’re scenario-planning for those events, we’ll have to roll that out at a later date.
“This is just to give some clarity to our staff, our coaches and our students of, ‘Here’s a timetable that you can count on to come back.’”
Arizona will begin allowing student-athletes to return to campus for voluntary workouts on June 15.
The phased re-entry will begin with football players, followed by athletes in fall sports and select athletics staff.
All student-athletes and staff members will follow elevated safety protocols for testing, tracing and treatment.
The Pac-12 Conference announced earlier this week it would allow member schools to begin holding on-campus voluntary workouts on June 15.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers says he had the coronavirus and compared its effects to how he felt climbing Kilimanjaro.
Rodgers says he fell ill “a week or so” after the English season was suspended on March 13 and later tested positive for the virus. He says he felt the effects of it for three weeks.
Rodgers says “the strangest thing was losing your smell and the taste. You lose your strength. You could hardly walk 10 yards. I felt it was similar to the time I was climbing Kilimanjaro. When you get to a certain point at altitude, you walk and really suffer.”
The former Liverpool manager is still being tested twice a week according to the Premier League’s coronavirus protocols.
Rodgers says “it’s not the case that now I’ve had it, I wouldn’t test. You just never know.”
Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios will play exhibition tennis matches in Berlin in July amid the coronavirus pandemic.
One exhibition event will run from July 13-15 on grass and another on a hard court in a hangar in the city’s closed Tempelhof airport from July 17-19.
Each tournament will feature six men and six women and there will be 200,000 euros ($222,000) in total prize money available.
Thiem, Zverev and Kyrgios will be joined by Jannik Sinner for the men’s events. Two more players will be announced later.
Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic will be in the women’s events. Two places are still to be confirmed.
Matches will have a super tiebreaker replacing the third set. There will be electronic line calls with no line judges to reduce the number of people involved on court.
The event replaces a WTA tournament in Berlin which was set for June but called off.
Poland will allow soccer fans to attend games in limited numbers starting on June 19.
Fans will only be allowed to make up 25% of the stadium’s capacity and no away supporters will be allowed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Polish league will resume on Friday in empty stadiums. No games have been played since March 9.
The return of fans will be governed by special sanitary regulations worked out with the health ministry and sanitary authorities.
French car manufacturer Renault says it is staying in Formula One despite planning a large number of job cuts.
Renault general director Clotilde Delbos made the announcement in a telephone conference call.
Renault plans to cut 15,000 jobs as part of its financial restructuring but Delbos said the company’s presence in F1 will not be affected.
The Swiss soccer league will restart on June 20 in empty stadiums.
The league says the 20 clubs in the top two divisions have voted 17-2 in favor of resuming. There was one abstention.
The league has been shut down since February because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are 13 rounds left in the top division and the league wants to complete the season on Aug. 2.
St. Gallen leads defending champion Young Boys on goal difference. Third-place Basel trails by five points.
Basel is also still in the Europa League. UEFA hopes to complete that competition in August after domestic seasons end.
The league says a separate vote to increase the top division from 10 teams to 12 failed to pass.
The dates for the FA Cup semifinals have been changed to July 18-19.
The Football Association originally announced dates of July 11-12 but a short time later decided to push them back.
The FA Cup final is set for Aug. 1.
The Japanese soccer league will resume on July 4 in empty stadiums.
J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai made the announcement in a online news conference.
The J-League suspended play on Feb. 26 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Both soccer and baseball were able begin play after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted a state of emergency earlier in the week.
The soccer league says “matches will be held without spectators but the league will continue preparations to allow spectators into the stadiums in the future.”
The league says all matches will be rescheduled with a priority given to scheduling teams from the same geographic region to limit travel.
A new schedule will be announced on June 15. The lower level J-2 and J-3 leagues can begin play on June 27.
The reshaped English soccer season is set to end with the FA Cup final on Aug. 1.
The Football Association has announced provisional dates for the remaining rounds of the competition a day after the Premier League said it planned to restart on June 17.
The quarterfinals of the FA Cup are scheduled to take place over the weekend of June 27-28 and the semifinals on July 11-12.
The semifinals and final are usually held at Wembley Stadium. The FA says further information on venues will be announced later.
The FA says the match dates are dependent on safety measures being met as lockdown measures are gradually eased during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Spanish soccer league could use virtual crowds when the competition resumes in empty stadiums next month.
Spanish league president Javier Tebas says the league is working with the possibility of giving fans different options on how to watch the matches on television. He says they may be able to choose either the original feed with no fans or an alternative one with crowds superimposed on the stands.
Tebas says fans may also have the option of hearing pre-recorded crowd noise or stick with the live sound from the empty stadiums.
Tebas says the Spanish league is expected to resume on June 11 and finish on July 19. The next season would start on Sept. 12. The European competitions are set to be played after the end of the domestic leagues.
Tebas says he wants two or three league matches to be played every day until the end of the competition.
The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships won’t be held as planned in 2022 because of a crowded international sporting schedule brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada was scheduled to host the quadrennial event in 2022 but instead will host in 2026.
Swimming Canada says charter nations Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States “agreed to defer” the event.
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021. That then led to the swimming world championships being pushed back to May 2022.
The 2020 Junior Pan Pacific Championships were moved to August 2022 in Hawaii.
Fans will be in the stadiums when the Russian soccer league restarts next month.
The Russian government’s coronavirus task force says spectators will be allowed if they don’t exceed 10% of the stadium’s capacity.
The Russian league previously announced it will resume games on June 21.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko says “both players and fans have missed the vivid emotions of a match and the noise from the stands. Soon all this will return.”
The move could help clubs stem losses from refunding ticket holders.
Only neighboring Belarus is currently holding professional soccer games with fans in the stadium.
The top two divisions of the Swedish league have been given the go-ahead to start their seasons on June 14.
There will be no spectators at matches.
The season was scheduled to start on April 4 but was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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