The Latest: NHL to reopen facilities for voluntary workouts

1010 WINS Newsroom
June 04, 2020 - 8:51 pm

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The NHL nailed down the final details of a playoff format if the season can resume on the same day word came out that another player has tested positive for the coronavirus. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

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

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The National Hockey League is allowing team facilities to reopen and players to take part in voluntary on- and off-ice workouts beginning Monday.

The league announced its move to “Phase 2” of a potential return Thursday night. Earlier in the day, it unveiled the final details of the 24-team playoff format that will be used if play resumes and the Pittsburgh Penguins announced one of their players tested positive for the coronavirus.

During this stage, players can skate or work out in groups of up to six at a time. Unlike training camps, which could begin sometime in July, these workouts are not mandatory for players, who can choose to skate in their current city even if they don’t play there.

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The American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe plans to proceed without spectators.

Featuring two-time defending champion Tony Romo, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers and Charles Barkley, the 80-player event at Edgewood Tahoe is set for its original dates of July 10-12. All prize money will be donated to COVID-19 charities and regional causes.

“The event has a tremendous tradition and is critical to that beautiful resort region,” Romo said. “It’ll be fun to try to win again but the sense of community and charity fundraising will be most important.”

NBC will televise the tournament.

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Notre Dame says it will test all its football players for COVID-19, starting June 15, before they can begin using the school’s athletic facilities for voluntary workouts.

The Fighting Irish players are expected to travel back to campus from June 8-17. Testing for football players and and employees will be conducted June 15-19. Players and employees will be tested for COVID-19 and antibodies for the coronavirus, which would signal previous exposure to the disease.

The phased approach will include quarantines for players returning before they get tested. Players who fly back will be expected to quarantine for seven days before they get tested and those who drive will be expected to quarantine for three days before being tested. Players will be housed at the Morris Inn, an on-campus hotel in South Bend.

“We’re going to have positives. I think that’s to be expected,” Dr. Matt Leiszler, head physician for Notre Dame football. “That being said, we need to do a really good job of controlling those. The things that play into that are a really robust contact tracing system to ensure if we have a positive we’re going to move really quickly in coordination with the university to limit those other close contacts so we don’t end up with a cluster.”

Leiszler said Notre Dame players will be tested again for COVID-19 after their initial test but did not specify when that second test would occur.

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Central Michigan says it has received a waiver from the NCAA regarding the minimum Division I sports sponsorship requirements.

Division I schools are not supposed to have fewer than six sports for male athletes. CMU announced last month it was dropping men’s track and field, citing university-wide budget cuts. That leaves the school with five men’s teams -- baseball, basketball, cross country, football and wrestling.

“This waiver has been granted for the 2020-21 and the 2021-22 academic years,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a statement. “We continue to research and determine the best course of action to return the department to full compliance. I want to thank the NCAA staff for making this an efficient process and for understanding the difficult decisions the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our department to make.”

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The NCAA has set a new schedule for early entrants to the NBA draft to withdraw and return to school.

The NCAA announced Thursday that it would give players until 10 days after the NBA scouting combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes earlier. This comes three weeks after the NCAA postponed its deadline, which was originally scheduled to fall on Wednesday.

That June 3 deadline was set to come 10 days after the completion of the combine, but the NBA postponed the combine amid the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to announce a new date.

In a statement, the NCAA said the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee worked with the National Association of Basketball Coaches on the new timeline and “believes this is the most equitable alternative available in these unprecedented circumstances.”

“This provides the utmost flexibility to student-athletes testing the waters to make the most informed decision about their future during this uncertain time,” NCAA Senior Vice President for Basketball Dan Gavitt said in the statement.

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The NBA G League has canceled the rest of its season.

“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said.

The league suspended play March 12.

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NASCAR is set to run its All-Star race on a Wednesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and added one more weeknight Cup Series race as part of its latest revised schedule through July.

NASCAR has revamped its schedule in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and announced even more changes on Thursday.

NASCAR will keep its scheduled twinbill weekend later this month at Pocono Raceway. The track is still scheduled to hold a Truck Series and Cup Series race on June 27 and an Xfinity Series and Cup Series race on June 28. The compressed schedule because of the pandemic has forced NASCAR to run races from all three national series multiple days a week. NASCAR crammed five Cup races on the schedule from May 17 to May 31.

The rest of the Cup schedule includes a July 5 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, July 12 at Kentucky Speedway, the All-Star race on July 15 at Charlotte, July 19 at Texas Motor Speedway and July 23 at Kansas Speedway. The new schedule wraps Aug. 2 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The All-Star race is usually held in May and New Hampshire was bumped from its July date. Pocono, Indy and Kentucky stayed the same.

NASCAR also scheduled five Truck races and six second-tier Xfinity races. The Cup Series races again Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The schedule for the rest of the season will be released at a later date.

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A fraudster has used data of Brazilian soccer star Neymar to request a government handout paid to informal workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Day Crespo, a spokeswoman for the Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker, confirmed the information to The Associated Press after it was reported by local news website UOL. Crespo also said Neymar has already informed authorities about the incident.

The handout is of about $170 a month. A representative of Brazil’s state-run bank Caixa Econômica Federal was not immediately available for comment. UOL said the request on Neymar’s behalf was accepted, but its status was changed to “under analysis” after its report was published. Fraudsters used data from other Brazilian celebrities to receive the government money in the Latin American country hit hardest by the coronavirus.

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A day after announcing a deal with its players’ association to resume the season with a tournament in Florida, Major League Soccer says teams may resume training.

MLS says each player and staff member must complete two tests for the coronavirus 24 hours apart, 72 hours ahead of the start of training. Every player also must have a test for antibodies and a physical.

Once training starts, players, coaches and some staff must be tested for the virus every other day. An individual who tests positive would be isolated, tested again at least 24 houts later, and all close contacts would be tested. High-risk individuals must be cleared to participate by the team’s chief medical officer in consultation with the MLS medical staff.

Testing for antibodies will take place every three months. Testing providers must be authorized by the FDA or Health Canada.

Training rooms and gyms will be restricted to a maximum five people, and lockers should be spaced a minimum 10 feet apart. Doors should be left open.

Food is restricted to individual, prepackaged meals and individually wrapped utensils, and 10 feet of distancing is necessary while eating.

Staff is to use appropriate personal protective equipment.

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Michigan State says a student-athlete’s father died of COVID-19 and the athlete tested positive but remained asymptomatic.

Athletic director Bill Beekman was part of a video conference with reporters Thursday to discuss the school’s plans to have athletes back on campus. When asked if any athlete or athletic department personnel had tested positive in the past three months, Beekman said nobody that he was aware of -- but that he might not necessarily have all the information.

Dr. Jeffrey Kovan, the school’s director of sports medicine, was also part of the video conference. He quickly said that one student-athlete had tested positive, his father died, and his mother and sister also tested positive. Kovan said the athlete was asymptomatic and retested negative a few weeks later.

The school did not disclose the athlete’s identity or his sport.

“We’ve had a couple others that have had symptoms, without testing positive that we know of,” Kovan said.

Michigan State athletes can begin returning to campus June 15 in preparation for voluntary workouts. Football, basketball and volleyball players will be the first to undergo testing.

After testing, athletes will be instructed to self-isolate for a week, and those testing positive will be quarantined for 10 days. On June 22, athletes who initially tested negative will be given a second round of testing. Athletes who receive a second negative test will be cleared to begin voluntary workouts. They will be split into small workout groups based on people they live with.

“The intent is that if we keep our volume, our number of athletes together in a small set, and their strength coach works with just that group when they work out, and somebody in that group is positive, then we can isolate that individual group as opposed to the whole team,” Kovan said.

Common areas like locker rooms and lounges will remain closed. Athletes will be given masks and required to wear them while in facilities, except during workouts.

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A member of the Pittsburgh Penguins has tested positive for COVID-19.

The team announced Thursday that an unidentified player has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The team says the player was not in Pittsburgh at the time of test and has been at his home since first experiencing symptoms. The club said the player is “recovering and feeling well” and those who have been in close contact with him have been notified.

The NHL’s season remains “on pause,” but the Penguins will participate in the approved playoff format whenever the season resumes.

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Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini says the reaction from Champions League opponent Valencia after he acknowledged testing positive for the coronavirus is “really very offensive.”

Valencia expressed “surprise” and a top health official in the Spanish region said Gasperini “lacked responsibility” for traveling to Spain with symptoms of the virus. He recently told Italian media he felt sick the day before the March 10 match in Valencia.

Gasperini tells Sky Italia, “I know that I respected the protocols. I was in quarantine like everyone else until training resumed. I never had a test. It was only in May when (the entire team) had blood tests that I realized that I had had the virus.”

Valencia said after the March 10 game that about 35% of its team had the virus.

Gasperini adds, “Looking back, I think that was the period when I didn’t feel well. But I never had a fever or any sort of respiratory problems. When I left from Bergamo I felt fine. I had some problems that evening and the day after (the match).”

Experts say the first leg on Feb. 19 in Milan was one of the biggest reasons why the virus was so deadly in Atalanta’s home city of Bergamo. The match has been dubbed “Game Zero” by Italian media.

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Seven Arkansas State athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating for 14 days.

Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said the seven athletes are from three sports, and all were asymptomatic Thursday. They learned of the positive results Wednesday night.

The athletes who tested positive and are living off campus will self-isolate there or at home for 14 days. Those living on campus will self-isolate in their residence hall or at home for 14 days.

Damphousse said contact tracing has begun, and anyone who has been exposed to any of the seven athletes will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

“This is a day that we knew would come, not just at A-State, but for colleges and universities across America,” Damphousse said.

An Arkansas State spokesman said he didn’t know how many athletes have been tested since they began returning to campus for voluntary workouts.

Oklahoma State and Marshall have announced they’ve each had three athletes test positive.

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The International Olympic Committee is in talks with insurers over compensation for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Olympic operations director Pierre Ducrey says there is “an open discussion” between the IOC and insurance brokers “to try and find the right level of compensation to help us bear the cost of having to wait another year.”

The IOC pays for insurance against the cancellation of an Olympics but it is unclear if its policy covers a one-year postponement.

Cancellation policies detailed in IOC accounts cost $14.4 million for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and $12.8 million for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

The IOC said last month it set aside $650 million to cover potential extra costs for the postponement.

Costs for organizers in Japan are expected to run to billions of dollars.

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Borussia Dortmund has defended a group of players who were accused of breaking Bundesliga hygiene rules while getting haircuts.

German newspaper Bild reports that some of the players were pictured without face masks during appointments at home with a celebrity barber. Forward Jadon Sancho was among the players.

League rules during the coronavirus pandemic say players should minimize contact with people from outside their household. They have to wear masks for large parts of game days unless actually on the field.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc says he spoke with the players about their behavior and adds that they only removed their face masks to pose briefly for pictures. Zorc adds that the 20-year-old Sancho is still “very young.”

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The Italian soccer federation is launching a fund of nearly $25 million to help clubs and their members following the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Save Soccer Foundation will need definitive approval at a federation meeting on Monday.

Federation president Gabriele Gravina says “it’s an initiative which doesn’t have precedents and represents a great assumption of responsibility which the (federation) is taking in favor of the whole soccer system.”

The fund consists of 21,700,000 euros ($24,500,000). It will give up to 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to each of the two divisions below Serie A as well as the same amount to support clubs from the amateur soccer league.

It will also give up to 3 million euros ($3.4 million) to soccer players and the same amount to coaches and their staff.

The fund will also provide 700,000 euros ($800,000) to help women’s soccer clubs that are set to complete the season.

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