- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2020

OLYMPICS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - The IOC will take up to four weeks to consider postponing the Tokyo Olympics amid mounting criticism of its handling of the coronavirus crisis that now includes a call for delay from the leader of track and field, the biggest sport at the games.

The IOC is planning meetings with Japanese public authorities, global sports officials, broadcasters and sponsors that will deal with scenario planning for the Olympics, which are scheduled to start July 24. Canceling the games is not under consideration.

IOC President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision and why it might take so long, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular.

But only hours after the announcement, World Athletics President Seb Coe sent a letter to Bach saying that holding the Olympics in July “is neither feasible nor desirable.”



DENVER (AP) - A worldwide group representing Olympic hopefuls is calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until the coronavirus pandemic is under control - a decision the IOC says could be as much as four weeks away.

“As the world unites to limit the spread of COVID-19 virus, the IOC … must do the same,” Global Athlete said in a news release Sunday.

The statement came out a few hours before an IOC announcement that said the committee was considering several scenarios and would finalize a decision within four weeks. The games are scheduled to start July 24.

The group’s director general, Rob Koehler, reacted to that news, saying it was “unacceptable, irresponsible, and once again ignores athletes’ rights.”

TORONTO (AP) - The Canadian Olympic Committee says it won’t send athletes to the Tokyo Games unless they’re postponed for a year, becoming the first country to threaten such a move in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee sent out a statement Sunday evening saying it was willing to help the IOC search for alternatives, but that it was not safe for athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games.”

“In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”

Canada brought 314 athletes who combined to win 22 medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

Some of its most notable performers included swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse.

SYDNEY (AP) - The Australian Olympic Committee is advising its athletes to prepare for an Olympics in 2021.

Ian Chesterman, Australia’s team leader for Tokyo, says “It’s clear the games can’t be held in July.”

“Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them,” Chesterman said in a statement released Monday by the Australian Olympic Committee.

“They have also shouldered the burden of concern for their peers around the world. That has been a consistent message to me.”

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said Australia had athletes based overseas and training in central locations around the country.

“With travel and other restrictions this becomes an untenable situation,” Carroll said.

NBA

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver finds himself almost constantly looking at financial numbers and projections. And like the rest of a world that is dealing with the seismic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, he still isn’t sure how bad things will get.

Silver said Saturday the league is considering all options - best-case, worst-case and countless ideas in between - as it tries to come to grips with this new normal. But definitive answers on any front are in short supply.

“It’s too soon to tell what the economic impact will be,” Silver said. “We’ve been analyzing multiple scenarios on a daily if not hourly basis and we’ll continue to review the financial implications. Obviously, it’s not a pretty picture but everyone, regardless of what industry they work in, is in the same boat.”

Saturday marked the 10th full day of the NBA’s shutdown, a stoppage that has cost the league 75 games and counting so far, a total that will reach triple digits on Wednesday and will eventually get to 259 on April 15 - the day the regular season was supposed to end. Play isn’t going to resume by then. The financial losses will be massive and will obviously just keep growing if this season cannot resume or if next season is affected.

Players who are due to get their next paycheck on April 1 will get them. Whether those players will get their April 15 check is in some question; the league can exercise a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows it to take back 1.08% of each player’s salary for each game missed in certain times - like war, or in this case, a pandemic.

That clause has not been exercised yet since, officially anyway, no game has been canceled.

NFL

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks continue to stockpile offensive linemen in free agency, agreeing to terms with former first-rounder Chance Warmack on Sunday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced by the team. Pro Football Talk first reported the deal.

Warmack has not played since 2018 when he appeared in nine games for Philadelphia. He sat out last season to reportedly get healthy after a series of injuries.

Warmack, 28, was part of the 2013 draft class and was considered the best interior offensive lineman that year coming out of Alabama. He was drafted 10th overall by Tennessee and started 46 of 48 possible games his first three seasons for the Titans.

But Warmack suffered a hand injury early in the 2016 season and played in just two games. The Titans opted not to pick up his fifth-year option and Warmack eventually signed with the Eagles, spending two seasons with Philadelphia.

-By AP Sports Writer Tim Booth.

NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The stands were packed, Jimmie Johnson caused several wrecks, Denny Hamlin raced barefoot and damaged cars were repaired with the push of a button - a few virtual signs that NASCAR backed quite an unreal race.

NASCAR eased off the brake in the real sports world brought to a sudden halt by the coronavirus and introduced the country to iRacing with some of the sports biggest stars. Hamlin, the three-time Daytona 500 winner, beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. off the final corner Sunday at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the bizarre spectacle.

It was Hamlin’s 31st victory in iRacing, which is where he was first discovered by Earnhardt long before he made it to NASCAR. Hamlin was heavily involved in putting together Sunday’s pretend race, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 and called by its regular team of Mike Joy and Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.

NASCAR has suspended racing until at least May 9, and with literally nothing else to do, series executives and iRacing put together the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series in roughly one week. The first event was at Homestead, where NASCAR was supposed to be racing Sunday before COVID-19 brought sports to a halt.

GOLF

LONDON (AP) - Leading golf instructor Pete Cowen tells The Daily Telegraph in Britain he has all the symptoms of the new coronavirus and says he has told all his players to follow health and government guidelines on COVID-19.

“I’m feeling horrendous and wouldn’t wish this on anyone, no matter how young and fit they may be,” Cowen said.

Cowen works with Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland and Graeme McDowell, among many others, putting in long hours on the practice range at the biggest events. He was at The Players Championship before it was canceled last week after one round because of concerns over the corona virus.

The Telegraph says Cowen has not been tested, but believes he has COVID-19.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Duke sophomore Tre Jones says he will enter the NBA draft.

The point guard was named to the third team of The Associated Press All-America team on Friday after being named Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year by the league and runner-up for the same award from the AP.

Jones averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 assists for the Blue Devils, the highlight being his buzzer-beating shot off his own intentionally missed free throw to force overtime in a wild comeback win at North Carolina on Feb. 8.

HOCKEY

Health concerns and travel bans closing international borders stemming from the new coronavirus pandemic left the International Ice Hockey Federation with no choice but to cancel the men’s world hockey championships.

The decision to cancel the 16-team tournament to be held in Switzerland in May was formally announced Saturday, and essentially wipes out the IIHF’s entire spring calendar of world championship of events.

The governing body previously canceled the women’s world hockey championships set to be held in Canada and the men’s Under-18 championship to be played in Michigan next month.

HORSE RACING

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Wells Bayou took an early lead and held off NY Traffic to win the $1 million Louisiana Derby by a head Saturday in one of the few U.S. sporting events to continue as scheduled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The major prep race for the Kentucky Derby was run in front of an empty clubhouse and grandstand at Fair Ground Race Course because of crowd restrictions related to the virus.

Trained by Brad Cox and with jockey Florent Geroux aboard, Wells Bayou earned 100 points toward qualification for the Kentucky Derby, which has been delayed until early September from its usual running on the first Saturday in May.

Wells Bayou finished the new 1 3/8-mile race distance in 1:56.47. He paid $8.40, $5.80 and $4.60.

SOCCER

MEXICO CITY (AP) - The president of Mexico’s Liga MX soccer league announced Friday he has tested positive for coronavirus.

League President Enrique Bonilla said in a statement that “I don’t have serious symptoms.” He says he’ll remain in isolation and keep up with the situation of Mexican first-division soccer.

Mexican first-division soccer matches were suspended this week until further notice to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mexican soccer learned Tuesday the head of Atlético de San Luis team, Alberto Marrero, also had coronavirus.

OBITUARY

MADRID (AP) - Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died Saturday from the new coronavirus, his family said. He was 76.

Sanz had been in intensive care since the beginning of the week while being treated for the virus.

Sanz presided over Madrid from 1995 until 2000, leading the club to two European titles, a Spanish league title and a Spanish Super Cup title.

Under Sanz, Madrid ended a 32-year drought in Europe by winning its seventh European trophy in 1998.

___

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

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