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Sports cancellations and the coronavirus: Summer Olympics moved to 2021, DeCosta talks trade

Here are the latest cancellations, postponements and alterations in sporting events around the Baltimore area and nationally.

Scroll to down to see national sporting event cancellations.

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Major League Lacrosse

Major League Lacrosse elected to suspend the start of the 2020 season, originally scheduled for May 30. This decision was made on April 3 to safeguard the health of our players, fans and staff, as well as those within our MLL communities as a result of the global pandemic.

MIAA/IAAM

The leagues are currently following the same mandate as the MPSSAA with the suspension of the season now extended to April 27.

Summer Olympics

It was announced that the summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed until 2021.

In his first public comments since the NFL’s new league year started Wednesday, DeCosta explained the mechanics behind last week’s lnotable trades.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is shutting down the state’s casinos, racetracks and off-track betting parlors indefinitely in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As concerns about the coronavirus pandemic grip the sports world, the Ravens announced Friday that they were immediately suspending business air travel and requiring “virtually all team personnel” to work remotely for at least two weeks.

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, which had already begun its spring season with games continuing as late as Thursday, has halted play following the directives from the Governor’s Office and the State Department of Education in regards to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Orioles’ spring training preparations will be cut short as Major League Baseball canceled spring training games, effective at 4 p.m. Thursday, and is delaying the start of the regular season for at least two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a league announcement.

“MLB and the clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule,” the league 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.

“Nothing is more important to us than the healthy and safety of our players, employees, and fans.”

The Maryland Jockey Club on Thursday announced the closures of its raceways at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway to the public effective immediately, following state officials’ orders to cancel or postpone large public gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Jockey Club, which oversees the race tracks on behalf of The Stronach Group, the Canadian owners, said in the Thursday news release that live racing events at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway will continue as scheduled but with limited personnel licensed by the Maryland Racing Commission in attendance.

The bigger looming issue is the status of the 145th Preakness, scheduled to be run May 16. With crowds exceeding 130,000, the race is the most attended annual sporting event in Maryland, and it generates revenues that support the state’s racing industry for the rest of the year.

A Jockey Club spokesman said track officials are taking a wait-and-see approach with their signature event but added that the Stronach Group has created a task force to monitor the spread of the virus and stay in regular contact with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Major Arena Soccer League decided Thursday to end the regular season, effectively immediately, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday “to act in the best interests of the players, staff and fans of the league,” the MASL said in a statement.

Play halts with the Blast, who play their home games at Towson University’s SECU Arena, having won five of their past six games. A 9-5 win over the rival Harrisburg Heat on Saturday put them at 15-8 on the season.

“We were kind of expecting something to happen because we’ve been watching the news and everything else was getting postponed or canceled. It’s very sad,” Blast star goalie William Vanzela said.

National

Augusta National decided Monday to postpone the Masters because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Club chairman Fred Ridley says he hopes postponing the event puts Augusta National in the best position to host the Masters and its other two events at some later date.

The NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball championships due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual March Madness event was scheduled to tip off with First Four games Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, and run through the Final Four in Atlanta on April 4 and 6.

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The Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and the SEC tournaments announced they were off, and other conferences were expected to follow suit.

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.

On Thursday afternoon, the NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring championships. The Power 5 conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, the Pac-12 Conference, the Big 12 Conference and the Big Ten Conference — announced one-by-one that they would be suspending their spring sports competitions.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been played every year since 1939 when Oregon won the championship in Evanston, Illinois. It has grown through the years, both in size and stature.

The three-week tournament generates almost a billion dollars in revenue each year for the NCAA and its hundreds of member universities and colleges, most coming from a television contract with CBS and Turner that pays the NCAA almost $800 million annually.

It is now one of the biggest events in American sports, a basketball marathon of buzzer-beaters, upset and thrills involving 68 teams. The field for the men’s tournament was scheduled to be announced Sunday, creating the famous bracket that sports fans would obsess over in office pools and at sportsbooks.

NHL pausing play

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.”






PGA Tour to carry on without spectators for the next month

The PGA Tour plans to keep playing, just without anyone watching from outside the ropes.

Commissioner Jay Monahan said 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.

Even as other leagues were canceling tournaments and events for a month or more, Monahan leaned on golf not being a contact sport and being played outdoors across sprawling acreage as a reason not to shut down entirely.

“Our players are making their way over 400 acres,” Monahan said. “Because of the nature of that ... and over the course of a round our players generally do socially distance themselves, we felt like by taking this step to address the problem with our fans, we're in a position where we can continue to operate the events as of right now.

“We’re comfortable having our players continue to play at this time.”

MLS shutting down

Major League Soccer is shutting down for 30 days because of the coronavirus.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season — based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement Thursday.

US Soccer cancels men’s and women’s national team matches

The U.S. Soccer Federation canceled exhibitions in March and April for its men’s and women’s national teams but says for now the under-23 men’s team will remain in Mexico for Olympic qualifying.

The men had been scheduled to play the Netherlands in Eindhoven on March 26 and Wales four days later in Cardiff, preparation for the scheduled start of World Cup qualifying in September.

The women had been slated to face Australia at Sandy, Utah, on April 10 and Brazil four days later at San Jose, California, as they get ready for the Olympics this summer.

The under-23 men's team is in Guadalajara for the Olympic qualifying tournament of North and Central America and the Caribbean. The U.S. is to meet Haiti in an exhibition on March 13, then plays Costa Rica on March 20, the Dominican Republic three days later and Mexico on March 26. The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals on March 30. The semifinal winners represent CONCACAF at the16-nation men's Olympic tournament.

The next scheduled match for the men’s national team is against Honduras in Houston on June 4 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League.













Real Madrid teams put in quarantine

Real Madrid’s soccer and basketball teams were put in quarantine one after one of the club’s basketball players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Spanish club said that its soccer team was affected because it shares training facilities with the basketball team.

The decision by the club came moments before the Spanish league said the next two rounds of the top two soccer divisions will be suspended because of outbreak. The league said in a statement that it had taken the decision after becoming aware of “the quarantine established in Real Madrid and the possible cases in players from other clubs,” without mentioning those suspected cases.

No player from a Spanish soccer team has been reported to have the virus.

Italian club Juventus said Wednesday that defender Daniele Rugani and “those who have had contact with him” are being isolated after he tested positive for the virus.

Olympic flame lit in Athens, Greece

The flame for the Tokyo Olympics was lit at the birthplace of the ancient games in a pared-down ceremony because of the coronavirus.

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Standing in front of the ruined Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, a Greek actress playing the part of a pagan priestess used a concave mirror to focus the sun's rays on a silver torch, causing fire to spurt forth.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach noted the “difficult circumstances” created by the virus outbreak, but stressed the IOC’s commitment to the success of the Tokyo Games.

Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, playing the role of the High Priestess, during the official flame lighting ceremony at the closed Ancient Olympia site, birthplace of the ancient Olympics in southern Greece, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The Russian anti-doping agency has issued its staff with disinfectant wipes and face masks and the body's deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya is self-isolating because of the COVID-19 coronavirus it is revealed Thursday March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, FILE)
Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, playing the role of the High Priestess, during the official flame lighting ceremony at the closed Ancient Olympia site, birthplace of the ancient Olympics in southern Greece, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The Russian anti-doping agency has issued its staff with disinfectant wipes and face masks and the body's deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya is self-isolating because of the COVID-19 coronavirus it is revealed Thursday March 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, FILE)(Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

“Nineteen weeks before the opening ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organisations around the world which are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” Bach said.

The IOC has stressed that the July 24-Aug. 9 games will go ahead as planned — even as sports events in various countries are being curtailed or held without spectators — and urged all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics.

But fears of the coronavirus forced Greek officials to ban members of the public from attending the ceremony and severely curtail the number of invited officials and journalists. Normally, several thousand people from many countries gather on the earthen banks of Olympia’s ancient stadium to watch the ceremony.

President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Olympics for a year was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

“The IOC and the organizing committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement — absolutely not at all,” Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference on Friday in Tokyo.

NBA suspending its season after player test positive for coronavirus

The NBA has suspended its season “until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.

Now there will be no games at all, at least for the time being. A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was center Rudy Gobert.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement sent shortly after 8:30 p.m. CT. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The test result, the NBA said, was reported shortly before the scheduled tip-off time for the Utah at Oklahoma City game on Wednesday night was called off. Players were on the floor for warmups and tip-off was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances."

“It's a very serious time right now," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think the league moved appropriately and prudently and we'll all just have to monitor the situation and see where it goes from here."

The Jazz released a statement saying a player — they did not identify Gobert — tested negative earlier Wednesday for flu, strep throat and an upper respiratory infection. That player’s symptoms diminished as the day went along, but the decision was made to test for COVID-19 anyway. That test came back with a preliminary positive result.

“The individual is currently in the care of health officials in Oklahoma City," the Jazz said, adding that updates would come as appropriate.

It has been a worldwide issue for several weeks. And now, it has hit the NBA.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he was stunned when the news came down, adding that “this is much bigger than basketball."

“This is a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake," Cuban said. “I’m a lot more worried about my kids, and my mom is 82 years old, and talking to her, and telling her to stay in the house, than I am about when we play our next game."

Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, speaking before his team's game at Miami, said “these are scary times.”

Rapidly evolving times, as well. Around 7 p.m., a person with knowledge of the situation told AP that owners — who met by teleconference Wednesday — were largely in support of a plan to play games in empty arenas on a short-term basis.

About an hour later, the Thunder-Jazz game was halted before tip-off. And about 90 minutes after that, the season was called off, effective when the last whistle was to blow Wednesday night.

That came even earlier than planned: The last game of the night's six-game slate, New Orleans at Sacramento, was called off as well because one of the referees assigned to work that Pelicans-Kings game, Courtney Kirkland, worked a Utah game on Monday.

“The game was canceled out of an abundance of caution," the NBA said.

There are 259 games, roughly 21% of the schedule, left to play this season — and no one knows if, or when, things will resume.

Also shut down: The G League, the NBA's minor league where teams have somewhere between six and nine games left on their 50-game schedules.






















World Figure Skating Championships canceled

The World Figure Skating Championships set for next week in Montreal have been canceled due to public health concerns.

The event was scheduled to bring nearly 200 skaters from more than 50 countries to Montreal. It is the premier competition of the skating season in non-Olympic years.

On Saturday, the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Nova Scotia were called off.

Dover postponed

NASCAR announced March 16 that Dover International Speedway’s May 1-3 tripleheader weekend in Dover, Delaware, is postponed to a future date. NASCAR said it is working to determine a new date.

Trout stocking halted

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fishing and Boating Services is temporarily stopping spring trout stocking effective immediately until further notice.

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this article.

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