Update on the latest in sports:
A quiet opening day
UNDATED (AP) – Ballparks will be empty Thursday on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s opening day, with the start of the regular season on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
To help fill the void, MLB is offering fans some oldies but goodies. It will air one memorable game for each franchise Thursday on its YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages. And the MLB Network plans to broadcast classic opening day games throughout the day.
If there is no baseball this year, Mookie Betts and all the players set to be free agents after the 2020 season would still get that chance. That’s part of a broad deal being negotiated by the commissioner’s office and the players’ association, according to a person familiar with the talks. The person told The Associated Press the agreement would credit major leaguers with the same service time this year that they earned in 2019 if there’s no season because of the new coronavirus.
The person said Major League Baseball and the union would agree to try to play as many regular season games as possible. They also would agree to explore one-time changes to the postseason, which would create the possibility of expanded playoffs this year.
Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, Mets hurler Marcus Stroman, Astros outfielder George Springer and Phillies catcher JT Realmuto (ree-al-MOO’-toh) also would be eligible for free agency, even if the season is canceled.
Turkish boxer who competed in London has virus
UNDATED (AP) – The Turkish Boxing Federation says a national team member and a trainer have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from an Olympic qualifying competition in London.
The Turkish team says the two men are being treated in a hospital and two others with symptoms are awaiting test results.
The federation says the boxing team went to a training camp in Sheffield on March 3 to prepare for the competition and traveled to London on March 11. All team members stayed at the same hotel and ate at the same cafeteria. The Turkish team competed on March 15 and 16 and returned home on March 17 after the International Olympic Committee Halted the competition. All team members were quarantined on return.
The IOC says it is “not aware of any link” between the tournament and the positive tests. It says in a lts statement that it was “not possible to know the source of infection.”
In other outbreak-related developments:
– IndyCar is still in limbo as to when its season can start, so the series will go virtual racing to create new content. The first of six iRacing events will be held Saturday and streamed to viewers. IndyCar announced 25 drivers scheduled to compete. The field may not be complete as many expect NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to enter the event.áThe track is being decided by fan vote.
– The WNBA has announced its draft will be a virtual event this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The draft will be held on April 17 as originally scheduled but will be broadcast without players, fans or media in attendance. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says the league is still looking at different scenarios for the start of the regular season, but notes it could begin before the NBA resumes play. One option for the WNBA could be to move its schedule back with the postponement of the 2020 Olympics. The league was scheduled to go on a month-long break starting July 10 during the Tokyo Games.
– Football Federation Australia wants FIFA and the IOC to increase the age limit for the Olympic men’s tournament in the wake of the Tokyo Games being pushed back to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll and FFA chief executive James Johnson plan to “open up discussions” with soccer’s world governing body and the Asian Football Confederation on increasing the age limit from 23 to 24. That would give some older players who qualified for the Olympics this year an opportunity to compete next year.
– Real Madrid and Spanish sports authorities say the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium will be used to store donations of medical supplies to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.The soccer club says it will use the stadium to store private donations. They will then be distributed by government authorities to hospitals. Spain has more than 56,000 reported infections and more than 4,000 fatalities from the COVID-19 virus. Civic groups, businesses and individuals are donating much-needed masks and any material that can used to make protective gear for doctors and nurses.
– The Italian soccer federation has offered up its hotel and auditorium for people having their health monitored amid the coronavirus outbreak. The facilities outside Florence are normally used by Italy’s national soccer teams and also host high-level courses for coaches and sporting directors.