The Latest: Union player tests positive, first in MLS

Sports

A locked gate is seen by the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City was due to play Burnley in an English Premier League soccer match Saturday March 14, 2020, after all English soccer games were cancelled due to the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. For most people, the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it can cause more severe illness.(AP Photo/Jon Super)

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

A player for the Philadelphia Union has tested positive for coronavirus. It is Major League Soccer’s first player case of the virus that has caused the suspension of the season.

The Union did not identify the player. He reported mild symptoms.

MLS suspended all league and team activities March 12. The Union said no other club players or staff would be tested because the case fell beyond the 14-day window of possible interaction with the player.

A member of the Seattle Sounders’ support staff and a sporting department employee at New York City FC previously tested positive for the virus.

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The San Francisco Giants’ owners and executives are pledging an additional $700,000 in personal donations to support game-day employees who aren’t working with the baseball season postponed because of the new coronavirus.

President and CEO Larry Baer said Wednesday the club will also reach out to players about contributing. Major League Baseball announced last month that each of its 30 teams would commit $1 million to pay event staff.

Baer and team vice president and general counsel Jack Bair shared details of the Giants’ plan. It strives to support those who serve the fans, “which is the lifeblood of our sport and business,” Baer said.

The Giants established two new benefit programs. Each worker employed by outside companies and vendors, such as those at concession stands, parking attendants and on-site retailers, will be entitled to a one-time grant of $500 — and some 2,000 are expected to accept it.

The other 1,300 people who work directly for the club in game-day operations will receive the $500 and also be part of an ongoing plan that will pay them between $100 and $250 per month based on tenure and hours worked last year for the team. Those employees also are being encouraging to apply for unemployment benefits.

Baer said Giants full-time employees are working from home and ballpark projects are on hold during California’s shelter-in-place order.

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Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward is lending a financial hand to 21 people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through his foundation, Make Them Know Your Name, Ward will pay a major expense for 21 service workers and small business owners to help offset the a big economic blow suffered by the shutdown. Ward wears No. 21.

“Whether that’s rent or mortgage or just groceries for your family, I want someone to breathe a little easier knowing it’s taken care of this month,” Ward said.

Ward and others will review applications and stories submitted through his foundation’s website (www.MTKYN.org)

“It’s important to me that people know they’re not alone in this,” said Ward, selected by the Browns with the No. 4 pick in 2018 out of Ohio State. “We’re all in this together. That’s the Ohio way.

— Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.

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Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has purchased 5,000 personal protective equipment masks to be distributed to local hospitals dealing with shortages as a result of the new coronavirus.

Eichel purchased the masks from Bauer Hockey, which has shifted its production from making sports equipment during the pandemic.

Eichel says he is thankful to the medical professionals “on the front lines taking care of our community.” Eichel’s mother is a nurse at Boston Medical Center, though she recently took time off to care for her husband, who is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery.

Eichel has a sponsorship deal with Bauer.

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The Professional Fighters League has put its season on hold indefinitely due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The mixed martial arts promotion was expected to begin competition in May. CEO Peter Murray said the PFL made the decision to safeguard its fighters’ health.

“We are adjusting our plan for the rest of this year and look forward to starting our next season as soon as it is feasible,” Murray said. “We are committed to continuing to evolve and grow the sport of MMA.”

The PFL was known as the World Series of Fighting until 2017. Its competition format includes a regular season, a postseason and a championship event, making it unique in MMA.

The promotion hadn’t announced a definite schedule for 2020 but has typically begun its seasons in late spring. Last year, the promotion staged six regular season events, three playoff events and a championship event on New Year’s Eve.

The PFL has showcased and launched the careers of several MMA stars, including Justin Gaethje, David Branch, Jon Fitch, Marlon Moraes and current featherweight champion Lance Palmer. Two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison is its current lightweight champion.

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The recruiting dead period has been extended in all NCAA Division I and II sports through May 31.

Recruiting was shut down on March 13, not long after the cancellation of all winter and spring sports because of the new coronavirus outbreak. The original suspension was through April 15.

The latest decision by the Division I Council Coordinator Committee essentially wipes out spring recruiting for this academic year. A dead period prohibits in-person visits by recruits and coaches, but electronic communication is still permissible.

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Professional athletes in Italy have been banned from training inside sports facilities in the country through April 13.

The measure was included when Italy’s Premier Giuseppe Conte extended a nationwide lockdown for another 10 days because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The lockdown had been set to expire on Friday, and Serie A contender Lazio was among the clubs intending to resume training on Saturday, albeit in small groups.

Previously, professional athletes and those training for the Tokyo Olympics had not been banned from training at facilities. But now, with the Tokyo Olympic Games postponed to 2021 and the virus still a major threat, all athletes are only allowed to train in their homes or the immediate vicinity.

Serie A has been suspended since March 9 and at least 15 players in the top Italian league have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri is worried about the places currently hardest-hit by the pandemic, and especially worried about the places that haven’t been hit yet.

Ujiri told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that he’s been in contact with some leaders in Africa, plus has spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his talks with other African heads of state about their level of preparation for the new coronavirus .

“I think a lot of leaders are ahead of it, and the ones that aren’t are starting to pay attention because this is an unknown, this is an unseen enemy, and we have to really, really pay attention,” Ujiri said.

Ujiri is of Nigerian descent and founded Giants of Africa, a group that organizes camps and other events to use basketball as a way to promote education and growth for children on the continent. He says he’s unsure yet if his programs will go on this summer as planned.

“We’re just concerned about people, about health, about listening to what the directions are going to be moving forward,” Ujiri said.

When it comes to the NBA season, Ujiri said he’s hopeful play can resume. The Raptors won their first NBA title last season.

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The NHL’s Ottawa Senators say four more members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19.

The team announced the update Wednesday but did not specify if the people affected were players, coaches or staff. The Senators previously had two players test positive.

The four additional people who tested positive were all on the team’s March road trip to California. The team said everyone on that trip self-isolated upon return March 13 and that all six members of the organization who got the novel coronavirus have recovered.

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The Critérium du Dauphiné cycling race, one of the key warm-ups for the Tour de France, has been postponed.

The race had been scheduled for May 31-June 7 in southeastern France.

Race organizer Amaury Sport Organization said it still hopes to reschedule the event for later in the year.

ASO also owns the Tour de France, which is scheduled to start on June 27 from Nice. No decision has been made on whether to postpone or reschedule the Tour.

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The Boston Marathon is offering refunds for the first time because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Race organizers say anyone who was entered in the 124th edition of the race this month can still run on the rescheduled date, Sept. 14. But if they can’t make it, they can have their money back.

Those who have signed up for the Boston Athletic Association 5K the Saturday before the marathon can also get a refund.

More than 30,000 runners had signed up for the world’s most prestigious 26.2-mile run, which had been scheduled for April 18. It costs $205 for Americans and $255 for international residents.

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Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks says the four players who tested positive for the new coronavirus have completed their two weeks of isolation and are now symptom-free.

The Nets announced on March 17 that four players had tested positive, with Kevin Durant telling The Athletic he was among them.

Marks said during a conference call Wednesday that all have now been cleared, along with the team’s entire traveling party. He said all are still practicing social distancing.

Brooklyn’s most recent game was March 10 in Los Angeles. All Nets players were then tested, and the team said one player showed symptoms and the other three were asymptomatic.

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France’s national institute of sport is helping with the needs of caregivers and homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Paris-based INSEP will lodge nursing staff coming far from their homes to assist medical teams in the city.

INSEP and other sporting establishments in France will also receive sick people who are no longer in serious condition but need their health monitored in an effort to free up hospital beds.

INSEP will receive about 100 people from homeless shelters.

Also, 69 rooms at INSEP are at the disposal of France Horizon, which helps families, homeless people, migrants, refugees and people who are isolated.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu says “the only way through this crisis is to stay united.”

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Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The All England Club announced after an emergency meeting that the oldest Grand Slam tournament in tennis would not be held in 2020.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.

It now joins the growing list of sports events scrapped in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

That includes the Tokyo Olympics, the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments and the European soccer championship.

The last time Wimbledon was called off was 1945.

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Major League Baseball has canceled a two-game series in London between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams had been scheduled to play at Olympic Stadium on June 13 and 14.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement in a memorandum send to MLB employees. MLB said on March 19 that it had scrapped series in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

MLB played in Europe for the first time last June when the New York Yankees swept a pair of games from the Boston Red Sox in London.

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UEFA has postponed the Euro 2020 playoffs for the second time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The games were originally scheduled for March 26-31 and have now lost their June 4-9 dates.

The playoffs will decide the last four places in the 24-nation lineup for the postponed European Championship.

The decision was made in a conference call with officials from the 55 UEFA member federations.

UEFA says “all other UEFA competition matches, including the centralized international friendly matches, remain postponed until further notice.”

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A German soccer club is raising funds amid the coronavirus pandemic by selling tickets for a fictional game.

Third-division club Uerdingen hopes to virtually sell out its 34,500-capacity Grotenburg Stadium in Krefeld with the offer of souvenir tickets for fans.

Tickets start at 5 euros ($5.46) and go all the way to 19.05 euros ($20.80) for VIP tickets. The club says “panic buying for friends and family is definitely allowed.”

It’s the only time that Uerdingen will sell tickets for the Grotenburg Stadium this season. Its home arena is being rebuilt so the club has been playing home matches at the ground of nearby Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Uerdingen was one of the powerhouses of German soccer in the 1980s with a best finish of third place in the Bundesliga and a run to the semifinals of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1986. More recently it has dropped as low as the sixth division.

The club hasn’t played a game since March 8 because of the virus outbreak.

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The R&A is postponing three amateur golf championships scheduled for June, including the Curtis Cup.

The Curtis Cup was to be played June 12-14 at Conwy Golf Club in Wales. The R&A and USGA say the matches for female amateurs from the U.S. against a team from Britain and Ireland will move to 2021. The dates were not decided.

The R&A says the British Amateur and the British Women’s Amateur will move from June to August, but that depends on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K.

The British Amateur had been scheduled for June 15-20 at Royal Birkdale. The British Women’s Amateur was to be played June 23-27 at Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland.

The Curtis Cup captains, Sarah Ingram of the U.S. and Elaine Ratcliffe for GB&I, will remain for the 2021 matches. The teams had not been decided. Players were to have been selected later this month.

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A hockey team and a soccer club in Russia face being removed from their leagues after government financial support was diverted to fight the coronavirus.

The sports ministry in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai says it sees no point in funding player contracts for another season if it’s not clear when competitions will resume. It wants the Admiral Vladivostok hockey club to drop out of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Luch Vladivostok soccer team to drop down two divisions into the amateur leagues.

The ministry says regional funding earmarked for professional sports will instead go into an anti-coronavirus fund.

Many Russian sports team rely heavily on regional governments and state-owned companies for much of their funding. Primorsky Krai is the first region to impose such drastic cuts.

All major sporting events in Russia are currently suspended.

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The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official “handover ceremony”on Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.

The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.

The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. The flame has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday’s event merely ceremonial.

The Fukushima prefecture is the region of Japan that was devastated in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

Olympic officials have postponed the Tokyo Games until next year with the opening now set for July 23, 2021.

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