Coronavirus latest: NBA season postponed, Serie A player infected, CBA to restart league, and more

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The National Basketball Association is suspending its 2019-20 season indefinitely following games on March 11, after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus.

The league said late on March 11 the test result was reported shortly before the tip-off of the game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, which was quickly cancelled.

In a statement, the NBA said it is “suspending game play following the conclusion of today’s schedule of games until further notice” and “will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The NBA’s move capped off one of the wildest and most chaotic single days in US sports industry history, a fear-gripped one that saw just within that league saw the Golden State Warriors make an ultimately mooted plan to play in an empty arena, then the NCAA move forward to also restrict the general public from the high-profile men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the Ivy League shut down all spring sports, Seattle and other cities ban mass gatherings that forced game postponements, and the Big3 abandon its touring model, among a bevy of other moves.

In short, nearly every pro and college sports event in the country is being revisited due to the depth and breadth of the public health crisis.

Neither the NBA nor the Jazz identified the player in question. But multiple US reports said the coronavirus-affected player is star center Rudy Gobert. A statement from the Jazz said the player – not identified as Gobert – initially tested early yesterday as negative for influenza, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection. After those symptoms faded, he was tested for coronavirus as a precaution, and that test yielded a preliminary positive result.

“When it was determined that the individual would be tested, we immediately informed the league office,” the Jazz said. “We are closing closely with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Oklahoma and Utah state officials and the NBA to determine how best move forward as we gather more information.”

Gobert was not in the arena at the time of the game cancellation. During a media availability earlier this week, Gobert went out of his way to touch every microphone and recording device on the dais in a seeming display of apparent fearlessness to the virus outbreak.

The NBA’s stunning decision to suspend the entire league quickly rattled the National Hockey League, whose teams in many markets share arenas with NBA teams.

“The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus,” the league said. “The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update [March 12].

The NBA G League also followed suit and moved to suspend its season, effective after games of March 12.

Juventus player tests positive for virus

Juventus player Daniel Rugani has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Serie A football club.

Juventus said in a statement on Wednesday that the 26-year-old Italy international had not shown any symptoms of the virus. He played in fixtures against Brescia and SPAL in February, and was on the bench during their Sunday home fixture against Inter Milan.

The club said: “The footballer, Daniele Rugani, has tested positive for Coronavirus-Covid-19 and is currently asymptomatic.

“Juventus Football Club is currently activating all the isolation procedures required by law, including those who have had contact with him.”

According to reports by Reuters, Juventus players will now have to be isolated and put into quarantine for two weeks, which makes their Champions League quarter-final second leg match against Olympique Lyonnais next week unlikely.

Inter Milan, their most recent opponent, has also suspended all competitive activities, and said: “The club is currently taking steps to put all the necessary procedures into place.”

CBA eyes return

The Chinese Basketball Association has decided to begin its season, which had been postponed in late January, from the beginning of April.

In a memo that was sent to teams yesterday, the league said: “In January 2020, the new coronavirus broke out in many places across the country. According to the requirements of national epidemic prevention and control, we postponed the subsequent games of the 2019-2020 CBA season scheduled to be held on February 1.

“At present, the situation of epidemic prevention and control in CBA cities is basically stable. In order to better respond to the national requirements on precise prevention and control, solid and orderly promotion of return to work and production, shoulder the mission and task of sports confidence, warm people’s hearts and gather people’s hearts, according to the relevant requirements of China Basketball Association on the restart of the league, the rest of the games of the 2019-2020 CBA season will restart from the beginning of April.

“All clubs and teams are requested to prepare for the restart of CBA League as early as April 2.

“At the same time, all teams should comply with the relevant requirements of the national and local epidemic prevention and control departments, continue to strengthen the epidemic prevention and control work, do a good job in making detailed and solid security measures such as epidemic prevention and control, and ensure the health and safety of club and team members. Details of the restart will be notified separately.”

According to reports by ESPN, the CBA has also informed its American players that they should return to China this weekend in preparation for the league start. The CBA has reportedly threatened lifetime bans for players that do not return to finish the season, and their agents, after news that some have no intention to return.

Fifa Congress postponed

Fifa has postponed its 70th Congress, which was scheduled to take place in Ethiopia from June 3 to 5, until September 18. The Congress meets every year, and amends statutes, elects office bearers, and accepts or expels members.

The governing body’s council meeting that was planned for March 20 in Zurich, will either be held as a video conference or moved to June or July.

Tokyo 2020 postponement statement rebuffed

Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Organising committee chief Yoshiro Mori said yesterday that his team was not planning to delay the upcoming Games, in response to a comment to the media by Haruyuki Takahashi, a member of the organising committee’s executive board, that the event would most likely be postponed by one or two years if it could not take place this summer as scheduled. Mori said Takahashi had apologised for the comment.

“It is our basic stance that we press ahead with preparation for a safe and secure Olympics,” Mori said. “Therefore we are not at all thinking about changing courses or plans.”

Australian F1 concerns

Two members of the Haas Formula 1 team and one from McLaren are in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The personnel were tested in a medical centre at the Albert Park circuit after showing symptoms of the virus. A Haas spokesperson said: “Two members of the team have been quarantined and remain in their hotel room. They displayed symptoms of a cold.”

McLaren said, according to the BBC: “We expect to receive the results overnight. The team is operating as per our normal schedule.”

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix weekend is scheduled to begin on Friday, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Other news:

The International Motorcycling Federation and Eurosport Events have postponed the 43rd edition of the 24 Heures Motos, scheduled to be held on April 18 and 19 at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans, France. Promoter ACO and Eurosport Events have fixed new dates for the race on 5 and 6 September, the close of the 2019-2020 FIM EWC season.

The International Judo Federation Executive Committee has extended its Olympic qualification period until June 30, after an extraordinary meeting yesterday. In addition, the Continental Championships planned in the period until April 30 will be postponed, and all Cadet and Junior events until April 30 have been cancelled.

The global footballers’ union FIFPro will support players who ask for training sessions, matches or competitions to be postponed over the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Wednesday. The Spanish players’ union has already asked for LaLiga to be postponed rather than matches being played without fans.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will stage its flagship March Madness basketball tournament “with only essential staff and limited family attendance”.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation has postponed the Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao, scheduled in Seville on April, with reports suggesting May 30 has been pencilled as the new date.

The World Figure Skating Championships, which was scheduled to take place between March 16 and 22 at Centre Bell in Montreal, has been cancelled by the government of Quebec.

The International Cricket Council has cancelled a four-day meeting with its member boards scheduled for this week, according to the Times of India.

The Asian Cricket Council meeting in Dubai was also deferred indefinitely. The ACC was to decide on the venue of this year’s Asia Cup tournament, as part of the agenda.

The Mujib 100 T2o Cup, part of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman centenary celebrations in Bangladesh, has been cancelled.