March Madness: NCAA Tournaments canceled due to coronavirus

UNDATED (AP) — There will be no hoops, hardball, hockey or hazards for a while.

The NCAA has canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of the spread of coronavirus. The decision came one day after the NCAA announced games that were scheduled to start next week would be played in mostly empty arenas. That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league put the brakes on their seasons due to concerns about the pandemic. The NCAA also canceled its championships in every winter and spring sport, including hockey, baseball and lacrosse.

All remaining Division I conference basketball tournaments have been canceled. Moments away from tipoff at some arenas, and minutes apart, each Power Five conference canceled its remaining games. The Big East game between Creighton and St. John’s began at Madison Square Garden but was called off at halftime. Smaller conferences followed suit, shutting down their tournaments.

Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. Opening day had been scheduled for March 26, and the decision announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred left open whether each team would still play 162 games. MLB also suspended the rest of its spring training schedule.

The NHL has put its season on pause, effective immediately, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move came one day after the NBA suspended its season following a positive test for COVID-19 by a Utah Jazz player. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the hope is to resume play later and still award the Stanley Cup. The NHL Players’ Association backed the decision, calling it “an appropriate course of action at this time.”

The PGA has canceled the remainder of The Players Championship, along with three tournaments leading up to The Masters. Tour officials had planned to ban spectators for at least the next month, beginning with the second round today at TPC Sawgrass. Also shut down were the Valspar Championship next week near Tampa, the Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas, and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.

Hideki Matsuyama was the first-round leader after firing a 6-under 63.

In other virus-related developments:

— The English Premier League and the Champions League were both suspended Friday as the chaos stemming from the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact soccer. Matches in England will be stopped until at least April 3 after five Premier League clubs said some players or staff were in self-isolation. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the virus, as has Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. The German league said Friday it will play upcoming games in empty stadiums and then vote on a suspension from Tuesday until April 2.

— The Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix was canceled amid concerns over the spreading coronavirus. The decision followed criticism from six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who openly questioned the wisdom of staging the race while other sports were canceling competition because of the pandemic. McLaren had already withdrawn from the event after one its team members tested positive for the virus. McLaren said 14 other team members would also remain in quarantine in Australia for 14 days.

— The Toronto Raptors say their players, coaches and traveling staff have been advised to isolate themselves for 14 days because they recently played the Utah Jazz. Utah center Rudy Gobert (goh-BEHR’) tested positive for the virus COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend its season Wednesday until further notice. A second member of the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell, has since confirmed he has also tested positive for the coronavirus.

— The Washington Wizards say their players, coaches and basketball operations personnel will self-quarantine for the next three to four days because they played at the Utah Jazz on Feb. 29. Washington also played Tuesday against the New York Knicks, another recent opponent of the Jazz.

— The Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics all said they were having some players and staff self-quarantine for as many as 14 days. Like the Raptors and Wizards, the Pistons and Celtics have had recent games against the Jazz. The Cleveland Cavaliers played Utah March 2 and say they don’t plan to mandate quarantines unless players exhibit symptoms.

— The San Jose Sharks say a part-time employee at their arena has tested positive for the coronavirus. The team says the person last worked a game March 3, two days before the Santa Clara County public health department recommended moratorium on public gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The Sharks say the person is under self-quarantine and receiving care from medical professionals.

— NFL teams are curtailing or completely stopping scouting operations as a safeguard against the spread of the new coronavirus. The Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets have ordered their scouts and assistant coaches to return home. The league canceled its main owners meeting scheduled for later this month in Palm Beach, Florida.

— Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the club to put the entire first team in self-isolation and leading to the postponement of Saturday’s Premier League match against Brighton. The league reacted by saying it will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss “future fixtures,” just hours after saying it would be pushing ahead with a full schedule of games and stadiums with fans.

— A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that UEFA (yoo-AY’-fah) is nearing a decision to postpone the European Championship by a year to 2021 as the continent grapples with the pandemic. A final decision will come when the UEFA executive committee meets on Tuesday after talks with clubs and leagues.

— The LPGA has postponed three U.S.-based tournaments, including the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, on April 2-5. The ANA Inspiration is the first major of the LPGA season.

— IndyCar and NASCAR will both race this weekend without spectators over fears of the COVID-19 pandemic. IndyCar is scheduled to open its season Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. NASCAR will race this week at Atlanta and next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway under similar restrictions.

— Formula One organizers have canceled the season-opening Australian Grand Prix hours ahead of the first official practice sessions because of concern over the spreading coronavirus. The move follows McLaren’s decision to withdraw after one of its team members tested positive for the virus.

— The ATP has suspended all men’s professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. And the WTA is dropping next week’s tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, and April tournaments in Bogota, Colombia and Charleston, South Carolina.

— Churchill Downs said preparations to hold the Kentucky Derby on May 2 are up in the air. Track officials issued a statement saying that with the event still seven weeks away, a decision will be made closer to that date with respect to postponing the event until later in the year.


PGA scrubs remainder of Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Tour has decided to scrap the rest of The Players Championship and shut down its other tournaments for the next three weeks.

Commissioner Jay Monahan had said earlier Thursday there would be no fans at the TPC Sawgrass for the final three rounds, or at the next three tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule. The tour changed its mind late Thursday.

There was no immediately word whether The Players Championship would be rescheduled.

Hideki Matsuyama (hih-DEH’-kee maht-soo-YAH’-mah) was the first-round leader after firing a 6-under 63. He was two shots ahead of Harris English, Si Woo Kim and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.


Mancini has tumor removed from colon

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Baltimore Orioles star Trey Mancini has undergone surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon.

Team officials say the tumor was discovered last week during a colonoscopy. Lab results and the timetable for Mancini’s recovery will not be known until next week.

The Orioles provided few details immediately after Mancini left the team on Saturday, saying only that he was slated to undergo “a non-baseball medical procedure.”

He hit .291 with 35 home runs last season while serving as an outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter.


Packers release Graham

UNDATED (AP) — The Green Bay Packers have released tight end Jimmy Graham after the 33-year-old veteran spent two seasons with the franchise.

Graham caught 38 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns last season. He had 55 receptions for 636 yards and two scores in 2018. The five-time Pro Bowl selection previously played with New Orleans and Seattle.

The move creates about $8 million in cap space for the Packers.

In other NFL news:

— A person familiar with the decision says the Dolphins have decided not to pick up a contact option on center Daniel Kilgore, allowing him to become a free agent next week. Kilgore started 13 games for the Dolphins last season, when they ranked 27th in offense and went 5-11.

— The Titans have waived linebacker Cameron Wake after one season of what had been a three-year contract. The Titans also announced they waived running back Dion Lewis, who still had two years left on the contract he signed in in March 2018.

— Former wide receiver Del Shofner has died of natural causes at 85. Shofner split his 11-year NFL career with the Rams and Giants, grabbing 349 passes for 6,470 yards and 51 touchdowns. He led the league with 1,097 receiving yards with the Rams in 1958 and later combined with Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle to give the New York Giants one of the NFL’s most prolific passing threats in the early 1960s.


Cordeiro quits amid fallout from women’s team lawsuit

CHICAGO (AP) — United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro has resigned following the fallout of a gender discrimination lawsuit by the U.S women’s team players.

The moves comes three days after the federation filed legal papers in a gender discrimination claiming women players had less physical ability and responsibility than men. Several federation sponsors issued a response this week backing the players and condemning the USSF.

Cordeiro’s decision elevated former American midfielder Cindy Parlow Cone to become the first woman president in the history of the federation.


Amid virus precautions, Tokyo Olympic flame is lit in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The flame for the Tokyo Olympics was lit Thursday at the birthplace of the ancient games in a pared-down ceremony because of the coronavirus.

Fears of the coronavirus forced Greek officials to ban members of the public from attending the ceremony in Athens 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.

The International Olympic Committee has stressed that the July 24-Aug. 9 games will go ahead as planned and urged all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics.


Trump “postpone” idea shot down by Japanese Olympic minister

TOKYO (AP) — President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference on Friday in Tokyo that the IOC says “absolutely not at all” is it considering canceling of postponing the games.

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as schedule on July 24.

Television broadcasters and sponsors have billions invested in the Olympics, and the crowded international sports calendar has little space for pushing the games back a year. Holding the Olympics without fans has been floated, as has simply canceling the Olympics, which has only happened during wartime.


Russia restricted to 10 athletes in track at Tokyo Olympics

MONACO (AP) — Russia’s track team was limited to 10 athletes for the Tokyo Olympics and the country’s federation was fined $10 million by the sport’s governing body on Thursday.

World Athletics passed the latest package of sanctions after the Russian track federation’s new president accepted charges that fake documents were used under the previous management to give a top athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

World Athletics will restart a system to vet Russian competitors and allow them to compete as neutral athletes. They will be limited to 10 athletes at major events, but that limit can be raised later if World Athletics feels Russia is making progress on reforms.