The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is drawing inspiration from his friendship with Kobe Bryant as he navigates the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelinka was Bryant’s longtime agent before he took over the Lakers’ front office this season. The executive has been thinking of Bryant constantly since the former NBA star was killed in a January helicopter crash along with eight others including his daughter, Gianna, who was Pelinka’s goddaughter.
With an uncertain future ahead for the Lakers and the NBA, Pelinka has been imagining what Bryant would say.
“If you were on a knight’s journey with him and a huge fire-breathing dragon ended up in the pathway ahead, he could say, ‘OK, you know, this is why this is good right now,’” Pelinka said on a conference call with local reporters Wednesday.
“’We’re going to meet this challenge. Here’s how we’re going to get around it, and here’s how we’re going to defeat it.’ That was just his nature, that obstacles or hard times would lead somehow to growth. And I think that that’s the way I’m going to look at 2020, not just in terms of the loss of Kobe but just in general.”
Pelinka also spoke about the previously reported decision of several top Lakers executives to take a voluntary pay deferral during the health crisis.
“I would be in support of anything that allows people to keep their jobs in really hard times,” he said.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation has launched an online auction to assist local COVID-19 relief efforts.
Fans can bid on Dodgers jerseys autographed by Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and more. Also featured are uniform tops worn by Max Muncy and Kiké Hernández during games in which they homered.
The auction at Dodgers.com/Relief runs through April 19 and the team says all proceeds will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts intended “to uplift significantly impacted Angelenos, including our most vulnerable populations and those on the front lines of this crisis.”
The campaign initially began to provide more than 100,000 meals and $100,000 of in-kind donations to Los Angeles-area charities and organizations. Additional donations are also being given to local health care workers.
The Houston Astros Foundation partnered with Papa John’s this week to deliver pizzas to all 94 fire stations in Houston.
The team said that 470 pizzas were delivered across the city to support the approximately 4,000 firefighters working in Houston during this pandemic.
“Providing lunch is a small way for us to say thank you to so many of the first-responders in our city,” Astros owner Jim Crane said. “They truly are our unsung heroes. We wanted to show them how much they are appreciated.”
Real Madrid’s players and coaches have agreed to voluntarily reduce their salaries by at least 10% to help offset lost revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The club said the decision applied to its soccer and basketball teams. Some top club executives have agreed to take pay cuts that could reach 20% “depending on the circumstances that may affect” the rest of the season.
Fellow Spanish league club Sevilla also said Wednesday it would put its players and other employees on government furloughs to reduce labor costs during the pandemic. Barcelona and Atlético Madrid had already requested the government furloughs, reaching agreements with players to reduce their salaries by 70%.
The Spanish league has estimated that clubs will lose a combined $1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) if the competition can’t resume because of the pandemic.
Premier League players have united to raise funds for British health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic and distribute them “where they are needed most.”
Dozens of players took to social media to post a statement with the hashtag #PlayersTogether saying they have created the initiative in partnership with charities for Britain’s public health service NHS.
The statement said “this is a critical time for our country and for our NHS, and we are determined to help in any way that we can.”
However, it did not specify how much money the players themselves would be contributing.
With the Premier League suspended indefinitely, players in England’s top flight have come under public pressure to cut their salaries to help clubs pay staff without using a government fund set up for the pandemic.
The NFL is turning the league’s 2020 draft into a three-day fundraiser to help six charities dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Draft-A-Thon” announced Wednesday will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and pay tribute to healthcare workers and first responders.
The fundraiser will be featured during the draft April 23-25 to raise money for non-profits selected by the NFL Foundation: the American Red Cross, CDC Foundation’s All of Us, Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund for member food banks, Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund, the Salvation Army, and United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.
“The Draft-A-Thon will deliver much-needed funding to many who are suffering as well as those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“Conducting this event virtually, and taking all necessary precautions while doing so, underscores the importance of staying home and staying strong during this unprecedented moment in our history.”
Basketball Hall of Famer and noted cyclist Bill Walton is teaming with community leaders to stage the Bill Walton and Friends Inter-Galactic Bike for Humanity ride from 9-11 a.m. PDT on April 25 to benefit victims of the coronavirus pandemic and health care workers.
Participants are encouraged to ride their bikes for up to two hours that day, anywhere they can practice social distancing at a minimum of 6 feet, 11 inches, in honor of Walton’s height. Organizers stress it is not a group ride and riding clusters are prohibited.
All net proceeds will benefit various charities nationally and in Walton’s hometown of San Diego.
It’s free to sign up on bikeforhumanity.com. Participants who make a $25 contribution will be mailed a Bike for Humanity medal. Those who contribute $50 will receive a medal and T-shirt. Those making a $250 contribution will receive a medal, T-shirt and autographed photograph card from Walton, and be entered in a drawing for prizes, including an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego to ride with Walton. Riders who donate $5,000 will receive a medal, T-shirt and an all-expenses paid trip to San Diego to ride with Walton.
Beset by injuries during his NBA career, Walton has found an outlet by cycling. His custom bike has a Grateful Dead paint job and the former UCLA great can often be seen riding around San Diego. He has often ridden in various stages of the Tour of California.
“With the global health coronavirus crisis changing everything for everybody these days, we are doing something about and for the exacerbated challenges that so many of our communities now face, not the least of which are food and medical care,” Walton said.
The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals are teaming with State Farm to donate 1 million meals to local food banks to help families during the new coronavirus crisis.
The team said on Wednesday that the number of people seeking help from local food banks has more than doubled while the number of donations has decreased dramatically.
The Cardinals have already made a $1 million donation to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund and organized three blood drives at State Farm Stadium to help boost the area’s shrinking blood supply. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury was among those who donated blood.
Former Cleveland Browns teammates Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins have donated at least $50,000 to feed Ohio children affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Thomas and Hawkins, who since retiring from the NFL have partnered on a popular weekly podcast, also plan to match every dollar in contributions up to $50,000 to the Children’s Hunger Alliance.
Donations can be made at https://childrenshungeralliance.org/thomahawk/.
The CHA serves nutritious meals to Ohio’s at-risk children, helping day care providers, day care centers, local school districts, and after-school and summer programs.
A 10-time Pro Bowler, Thomas played 11 seasons in Cleveland before retiring after the 2017 season. Hawkins, who played college ball at Toledo, spent three seasons with the Browns and three with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bobblehead Hall of Fame CEO Phil Sklar will present a virtual $100,000 check Wednesday afternoon to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy after the Milwaukee-based museum launched a fundraising campaign with a Dr. Anthony Fauci bobblehead that became its best-seller ever.
More than 20,000 orders had come in as of Wednesday from 50 states and a dozen-plus countries to support the “100 Million Mask Challenge.” The Fauci bobblehead was unveiled April 1.
The creation features Fauci wearing a suit as he makes a motion showing how the nation needs to “flatten the curve” in the coronavirus pandemic.
The museum picked Fauci because many people see the plain-speaking expert on the coronavirus as a hero right now, Sklar said.
TCU football coach Gary Patterson and his wife, Kelsey, made a $50,000 donation to support the school’s Frog Family Crisis Fund.
Athletic director Jeremiah Donati announced the donation in a tweet. The fund supports TCU students and their families who are in need during times such as the current pandemic.
Patterson is the second-longest tenured FBS head coach, going into his 20th season next fall leading the Horned Frogs. He was their defensive coordinator three seasons before that.
The opening of the stable area and training track at Saratoga in upstate New York and barn area at Monmouth Park in New Jersey is being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oklahoma training track at Saratoga was set to open April 15. The New York Racing Association says it has yet to decide an appropriate date to safely open.
The delay does not impact the start of the Saratoga racing season which is scheduled to begin on July 16 and run through Sept. 7. The meet will be highlighted by the Travers and Whitney.
In New Jersey, Monmouth Park has pushed back the opening of its stable area until June 1. That’s a month later than the planned opening. Live racing is set to start the Fourth of July weekend.
The centerpiece of Monmouth Park’s summer season is the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 18. The winner of the 1 1/8 mile race earns a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It also will serve as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, now slated for Sept. 5.
A groom who worked at Belmont Park has died from complications of coronavirus.
The New York Racing Association says Martin Zapata died Tuesday. The 63-year-old native of Panama had spent the past two years working for trainer Tom Morley in New York, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic.
NYRA says Zapata tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24 and was hospitalized two days later. He lived and worked at Belmont Park.
Sevilla has become the latest Spanish soccer club to put its players on furlough to reduce labor costs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The club says the measure was needed because it was significantly affected financially by the stoppage of competitions in Spain and Europe.
It says it reached an initial agreement with the first-team players and coaches regarding their salaries but no details were immediately released.
The club says 360 employees in total will be affected. It says workers who can continue doing their jobs remotely will not go on furlough.
The current contracts will remain valid after the furloughs end.
Barcelona and Atlético Madrid had already requested government furloughs to reduce labor costs. They reached agreements with players to reduce their salaries by 70%.
The league said Tuesday eight teams had already requested the furloughs. It expected nearly all clubs in Spain to eventually reach agreements for the reduction of salaries of their players.
The Spanish league estimates $1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in losses if the competition can’t resume.
Former French rugby player Christophe Pras has died after getting infected by the coronavirus.
Several of his former clubs announced the death. He was 35.
The former under-18 France international had a short-lived professional career before going into coaching.
Pras is survived by his wife and two children.
The group charged with monitoring tennis gambling and punishing corruption found a near-doubling in the number of suspect matches in the first three months of 2020. That is an increase it ties to the coronavirus pandemic.
The London-based Tennis Integrity Unit’s quarterly report says it received a total of 38 alerts from the regulated betting industry about matches on lower-level tours from the start of the year through March 22.
That is up from 21 in the same period of 2019.
The 38 match alerts in the year’s first quarter break down as six from the ATP Challenger Tour and 16 apiece from the men’s and women’s International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tours.
The report concludes the jump indicates that entry levels of tennis “were deliberately targeted” as the sport moved toward suspension because of the outbreak of COVID-19.
All pro tours are on hold until at least mid-July.
The players and coach on Switzerland’s national soccer team have declined to take more than 1 million Swiss francs ($1.03 million) of payments that were due from their federation in 2020.
The team was scheduled to play in the now-postponed European Championship in June and had two games in Qatar canceled last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The shutdown of games has cost the Swiss soccer body millions of dollars.
Federation chairman Dominique Blanc says it’s a “magnificent gesture” from the players.
Blanc tested positive for the virus three weeks ago.
Team captain Stephan Lichtsteiner says “we wanted to set an example and show solidarity.”
The president of the International Paralympic Committee says the body has “cash-flow” problems because of the Olympic and Paralympic postponement until 2021.
Andrew Parsons says about 5% of spending is being cut from the IPC’s budget. A 2018 financial report showed a budget of 24 million euros ($25.7 million).
Parsons says the problem was due partly to broadcast rights holders who want to delay their payments until the product is delivered.
Parsons says it’s not a question of “losing money” but rather some temporary belt tightening.
He says “like all businesses we are tremendously affected by the COVID-19 crisis.”
He says he is dealing with 150 contracts that are games-related but adds “we have no plans to let any staff go at the moment.”
The track world championships in Eugene, Oregon, have been rescheduled for July 15-24, 2022.
The event was pushed back a year because the Tokyo Olympics were delayed until 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The track worlds were originally scheduled for Aug. 6-15, 2021.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says 2022 will be a “bonanza for athletics fans around the world” with the Commonwealth Games beginning in Birmingham, England, only three days after the track worlds.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7 and the multi-sport European Championship is currently slated for Aug. 11-21 in Munich.
World Athletics has also postponed the bidding processes for 2023 World Athletics Series events. They will now open in November 2020.
Formula One says it will furlough half of its staff until the end of May and senior executives will take pay cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
F1 has postponed eight races so far this season and the Monaco Grand Prix has been canceled.
F1 says senior leadership figures will take “voluntary pay cuts while still continuing to work and not in furlough.”
CEO Chase Carey will take a “much deeper” pay cut.
The McLaren and Williams teams had already put some staff on furlough schemes. McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz have also taken pay cuts.
The season is currently scheduled to begin in France on June 28. F1 management has said it still hopes to hold between 15 and 18 races this year in place of the original 22.
A two-time Olympic finalist in the 800 meters has died after getting infected with the coronavirus.
The Italian Olympic Committee says Donato Sabia has died. He was 56.
CONI says he is the first Italian Olympian to die with the virus.
Sabia finished fifth in the 800 at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and seventh at the 1988 Seoul Games. He also won the 800 at the 1984 European Indoor Championships.
Sabia died in his hometown of Potenza in southern Italy shortly after his father also died from the virus.
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