Update on the latest in sports:
Wimbledon canceled, British Open may be, too
UNDATED (AP) – Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic. The All England Club announced Wednesday after an emergency meeting that the oldest Grand Slam tournament in tennis will not be held in 2020.
And British Open organizers say postponement is an option for this year’s tournament at Royal St. George’s as well. The R&A released a short statement in response to media speculation about the staging of the event in July. Chief executive Martin Slumbers says the “process is taking some time to resolve” because of a range of external factors.
The 149th edition of the Open Championship is scheduled to take place July 16-19. The last time the Open wasn’t played was in 1945 because of World War II.
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12. The last time Wimbledon was called off was 1945.
In other developments related to the pandemic:
– The Senior PGA Championship in Michigan has been canceled. The PGA of America says it based its decision on Michigan’s stay-at-home order that was enacted March 23. The Senior PGA in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was to be played May 21-24. It will be held next year at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will return to Benton Harbor the following year.
– The French Grand Prix scheduled for May 17 in Le Mans has been postponed, becoming the sixth MotoGP race to be called off because of the coronavirus outbreak. The motorcycling series has yet to start its season. The season-opener in Qatar was canceled, the Thailand, Americas and Argentina races were postponed to October-November, and the Spanish MotoGP has yet to find new dates. The next race at risk is the Italian MotoGP on May 31.
– World Sailing has canceled the World Cup Series Final in Enoshima, Japan, in June because of the coronavirus outbreak. The regatta was to give valuable competition for the Olympic classes just over a month before the start of the Tokyo Games. The Olympics have been postponed to 2021.
– The coronavirus pandemic has left rugby on its knees over the last two weeks and there is the prospect of more pain to come because of the uncertainty over whether leagues, tours and international competitions can resume or go ahead. USA Rugby has filed for bankruptcy and the Australians are facing a black hole of more than $70 million. English rugby leaders have drawn-up worst-case scenarios of an even bigger financial hit.
– World Athletics says it won’t clear any Russian athletes to compete internationally amid the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The governing body of track requires Russians to apply for “authorized neutral athlete” status each year to compete outside their home country. Russia has been suspended from World Athletics since 2015 for widespread doping. World Athletics hasn’t decided how far in advance to open applications once competitions resume.
– Potential hosts of soccer’s 2027 Asian Cup have been given more time to enter the contest by the Asian Football Confederation. The AFC says the March deadline to show interest was extended by three months to June because many of its member federations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
– Major League Baseball has canceled a two-game series in London between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals because of the coronavirus pandemic. The teams had been scheduled to play at Olympic Stadium on June 13-14.
– Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks says the four players who tested positive for the new coronavirus have completed their two weeks of isolation and are now symptom-free. The Nets announced on March 17 that four players had tested positive, with Kevin Durant telling The Athletic he was among them. Marks also says he can’t rule out the possibility of Durant returning from an Achilles injury that has kept him sidelined since last year’s NBA Finals. Marks says the suspension of the season makes it possible for Durant and injured guard Kyrie Irving to return if the campaign runs into June.
– The Ottawa Senators say four more members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL team announced the update Wednesday but didn’t specify if the people affected are players, coaches or staff. The Senators previously had two players test positive.
– New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has ended his quarantine after recovering from the coronavirus. He is now working out of the sprawling new Dixie Brewery in an industrial section of eastern New Orleans. The brewery, owned by Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, is closed to normal operations. But the coach, general manager Mickey Loomis, college scouting director Jeff Ireland and a few other staffers have set up in an expansive room where they can keep their distance from one another and communicate with area scouts through video conferences.
– NFL teams are having to adjust to a new normal as they prepare for the NFL draft in three weeks without being able to visit prospects for in-person evaluations and interviews. The league is responding to the global coronavirus pandemic by forbidding teams from hosting prospects or traveling to interview them as they normally do. The pandemic also scuttled many college pro timing days that prospects were hoping to use to make impressions on NFL scouts, so teams will have to rely on game film more than ever. The NFL still plans to open the season as scheduled on Sept. 10.
– A player for the Philadelphia Union has tested positive for coronavirus. It is Major League Soccer’s first player case of the virus that has caused the suspension of the season. The Union did not identify the player, who reported mild symptoms.
– The recruiting dead period has been extended in all NCAA Division I and II sports through May 31. Recruiting was shut down on March 13, not long after the cancellation of all winter and spring sports because of the outbreak. The original suspension was through April 15.
– IndyCar’s second virtual race has been picked up by NBC Sports Network after the inaugural event drew 600,000 viewers to various online streams. The race from virtual Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama will be aired Saturday and called by NBC’s booth of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. NASCAR has twice set the esports record for viewers, with more than 1 million tuning into its virtual race last week aired on various Fox Sports platforms.
Payton unsure if Brees plays beyond 2020
UNDATED (AP) – Saints coach Sean Payton says he didn’t mean to insinuate on a television appearance that record-setting quarterback Drew Brees informed him of plans to retire after the upcoming season.
Payton said Wednesday during a conference call with media in New Orleans that he doesn’t know if this is Brees’ last year.
On Tuesday, Payton was being interviewed on ESPN when he mentioned the Saints had a “unique” quarterback situation because the 41-year-old Brees was coming back for a “final season.” He clarified on Wednesday he really meant to convey the idea that the Saints can’t really know for sure if Brees will keep playing in 2021 until the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing, completions and touchdowns passing makes that call himself.
In other NFL news:
– The Patriots have released quarterback Cody Kessler, who spent time on New England’s practice squad last season. Kessler was inactive for 11 regular-season games as the third-string quarterback behind Brady and Jarrett Stidham.
– The Bears have finalized a one-year contract with offensive lineman Germain Ifedi. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Ifedi made 60 starts at guard and tackle over four seasons for Seattle after being drafted out of Texas A&M with the No. 31 overall pick in 2016. He figures to replace Kyle Long at right guard after the Bears released the three-time Pro Bowl pick.
– The Panthers have officially signed free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson to a two-year contract. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the deal is worth $20 million. The 26-year-old Anderson finished with 52 catches for 779 yards and five touchdowns for the Jets last season.
– The players’ union says changes made to the labor agreement that players narrowly approved last month “reflects no substantive difference whatsoever.” An attorney for free agent safety Eric Reid believes the changes regarding filing for Social Security disability payments should invalidate the collective bargaining agreement set to run through 2030. And he points to the last paragraph of a memo sent to the players Wednesday that describes the alterations made as proof the CBA now in force is not the full document the players voted on. The NFLPA added that free agent Reid’s claim that the CBA isn’t valid is “completely false.”
Huskies’ Stewart turning pro
UNDATED (AP) – Washington freshman Isaiah Stewart has declared for the NBA draft after serving as one of the few bright spots for an underachieving Huskies team.
The bruising, 6-foot-9 forward was named to the all-Pac-12 first team after averaging 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds in the regular season. Stewart also blocked 65 shots and averaged a team-high 32 minutes per game.
In other college basketball news:
– Arizona State junior big man Romello White is joining teammate Remy Martin in declaring for the NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 power forward from Atlanta was the Sun Devils’ main inside presence as a junior, averaging 10.2 points and 8.8 rebounds.
– Udoka Azubuike (oo-DOH’-kah ah-zoo-BOO’-kay) of Kansas, Luka Garza of Iowa, Markus Howard of Marquette, Myles Powell of Seton Hall and Obi Toppin (OH’-bee TAH’-pihn) of Dayton are the five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s top college basketball player. The 44th annual award will be presented on April 7.
NCAA-GRADUATION RATES STUDY
Study: racial graduation-rate gap grows for men’s NCAA teams
UNDATED (AP) – A diversity report on graduation rates among potential NCAA Tournament teams has found a larger gap between white and black men’s players from the previous year.
The racial gap on the men’s side had declined the past two years in studies by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida.
The institute annually examines graduation rates for men’s and women’s teams invited to the NCAA Tournament. It used final bracket projections from ESPN as a substitute with the tournament canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The study also found male players continue to lag behind their female counterparts overall.