Four Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Durant, have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total to seven known players in the NBA.
The Nets did not name the players Tuesday, but Durant told The Athletic he was one of them: “Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We’re going to get through this.”
The Nets announced that one player is exhibiting symptoms, while the other three are asymptomatic. All four players have been isolated and are under the care of team physicians.
“The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible,” the Nets said in a statement.
The Nets said that all players and members of their travel party are being asked to remain isolated and closely monitor their health, but the team’s ability to get testing that has been unavailable to so many others drew criticism from New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio.
“We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”
Brooklyn last played March 10 in Los Angeles, beating the Lakers. The Nets were then to face the Golden State Warriors two nights later in San Francisco — a game that was to be played without fans — before the NBA season was suspended after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Durant was in Los Angeles for the Nets’ game against the Lakers, but was not in San Francisco for the game against the Warriors, his former club.
‘We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”’
New York mayor Bill de Blasio on testing for the Brooklyn Nets
Meanwhile, the NBA’s board of governors met again Tuesday for what a person familiar with the details of the call categorized as an “update” on the pandemic and the league’s response. Among the speakers addressing team owners was former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served during President Barack Obama’s second term and discussed the US response to the virus, according to the person who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the call’s details were not released publicly.
Besides the four Nets and Gobert, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Detroit’s Christian Wood are the other NBA players who have tested positive.
IOC wants to stay on schedule
The International Olympic Committee spelled out contingency plans to adapt qualifying procedures for about 4,700 spots still up for grabs for the Tokyo Games, in a nod to the realities of a sports calendar being shuffled by uncertainty with the coronavirus spreading across the globe.
The IOC said it was still committed to holding the Olympics as scheduled, beginning July 24. But at the end of the first of a series of meetings being held this week with athletes and Olympic committees, the IOC conceded the lead-up to Tokyo was anything but business as usual.
“The IOC remains fully committed to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage," the IOC said, adding that any other “speculation at this moment would be counter-productive."
The USA Basketball coaching staff for the Tokyo Olympics is still preparing as if there will be a gold medal to try and defend this summer.
US men’s assistant coach Steve Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, said on a conference call that he has had some recent contact with US head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs as plans for the Olympics continue.
Kerr is slated to be on a staff that also includes Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova coach Jay Wright. Those were the three assistants under Popovich last summer as well at the Basketball World Cup in China.
“Everything’s just up in the air,” Kerr said. “There’s no sense of whether things are going to be delayed or anything. We’re all kind of wondering what’s going to happen and so is the rest of the world.”
USA Basketball revealed last month a list of 44 players — most of the league’s biggest American stars among them and 15 of the 16 US-born NBA All-Stars from this season — who are under consideration for the Olympic team. The original plan was to pick a 12-player roster by early June, and for that team to gather in Las Vegas in early July to begin training camp.
Officially, no part of that plan has changed yet. Like the NBA and the rest of the sports world, USA Basketball is very much in wait-and-see mode.
“We’re just going to plan as if it’s going to happen and we’re going to try to put together a roster,” Kerr said. “That’s all we can do.”
The Olympic body said that “with more than four months to go before the games, there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage; and any speculation at this moment would be counterproductive.”
It said it is following the guidance of world health experts, and that because of insurance policies the IOC's decision will "not be determined by financial interests.”
To date, 57 percent of athletes are already qualified for the games but the IOC will work with individual sports “to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualifications.”
Among the 43 percent of spots not already decided — about 4,700 — include entries from the three headliner sports: swimming, track and field and gymnastics. In the U.S. and many other countries, those spots are determined at Olympic trials in June, which are in limbo.
On Tuesday, track's pre-Olympic schedule was severely curtailed when the Diamond League announced it was postponing three events in April and May.
Gymnastics has also scrapped or postponed key events. The schedule changes, to say nothing of the reduced training opportunities in quarantined areas, are leading to questions about whether the athletes can be in competition shape come trials and the Olympics themselves.
“As long as the Games are supposed to continue as planned, I don’t think athletes want to scale back their training,” said Han Xiao, the chair of the US Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ group. “I’d like the IOC to give a little more insight into planning and when they might expect to make a final decision, but I don’t know if that’s forthcoming.”
The IOC said it's still possible to use existing events but also outlined adaptations that could be made if they're canceled or postponed.
Kentucky Derby moved to Sept. 5
Churchill Downs postponed the Kentucky Derby until September, the latest rite of spring in sports to be struck by the new coronavirus along with the Masters, March Madness, and baseball season. Instead of May 2, the race will be run Sept. 5, kicking off Labor Day weekend.
“It’s good that they didn’t cancel it,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has several top contenders that could earn him a record-tying sixth Derby victory.
However, Baffert added, “Until they get their arms around this virus, we’re all day-to-day."
“At the end of the day, it’s just a horse race," Baffert said of the Derby, "and I’m more worried about what’s going on in the world. Right now, we’re all in survival mode until we get this thing figured out.”
It's the first time the Derby won't be held on the first Saturday in May since 1945, when it was run June 9. The federal government suspended horse racing nationwide for most of the first half of the year before World War II ended in early May, but not in time to hold the opening leg of the Triple Crown that month.
“We’ll roll with the punches,” Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. said during a conference call, “and feel very, very good that September is the right date.”
The date change still must be approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its meeting Thursday. The date belonged to smaller Ellis Park, which struck a deal with Churchill Downs. Skip Sayre, spokesman for Ellis Entertainment, said both sides agreed to keep the amount of money involved confidential.
“We were more than willing to accommodate,” Sayre said. “Our agreement with Churchill keeps us whole from a financial perspective.”
Still to be decided are the dates of the next two legs of horse racing's showcase series — the Preakness and Belmont.
Carstanjen said the September date was chosen after talks with NBC Sports, which televises the Triple Crown races, based on the limited number of sports events that weekend and hotel availability in Louisville.
Churchill Downs clearly wasn't interested in running the 146th Derby without fans in the stands, which is what other tracks have been doing, including Santa Anita in California, Oaklawn in Arkansas and the Fair Grounds in Louisiana.
“We feel confident we are going to run the Kentucky Derby and run it with a crowd,” Carstanjen said. “It's a participatory event.”
The race itself lasts just two minutes, but the partying and socializing goes on throughout Derby week, with celebrity-stuffed charity galas and private house parties. Last year’s race drew 150,729 fans. People who pay little attention to horse racing the rest of the year typically watch the Derby and wager on it either formally or in pools set up at parties.
The Derby was first run in 1875 and has gone uninterrupted, even through the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.
In 1943, there were travel restrictions imposed by World War II and no out-of-town tickets were sold. Still, the Derby went on, with Count Fleet winning in front of 65,000. The colt won the Triple Crown that year.
The Preakness is scheduled for May 16 at Pimlico in Baltimore, and no decision has yet been made on its status.
“While we are mindful of the challenges these times present we also know that events like the Preakness Stakes can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state,” the Maryland Jockey Club said in a statement.
The Belmont is June 6. The New York Racing Association said “decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else.” NYRA added that it will update the status of the Belmont “only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments.”
French Open bumped to fall
The French Open was postponed for about four months because of the pandemic, shifting from May to September and juggling the tennis calendar — and placing it immediately after the US Open and conflicting with the Laver Cup exhibition event in Boston.
The French tennis federation said it will hold its 15-day clay-court event at Roland Garros in Paris from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, instead of May 24 to June 7, “to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organizing the tournament.”
In the statement announcing the move, federation president Bernard Giudicelli described it as “a difficult yet brave decision in this unprecedented situation.” Later, in a conference call with reporters, Giudicelli acknowledged the other Grand Slam tournaments and the men’s and women’s professional tours were informed of the change — but not consulted.
“It's unthinkable for us to remove Roland Garros from the calendar. The only thing we had in mind is the interests of the tournament, of the players," Giudicelli said. "We looked at the fortnight that was least damaging for the other (tournaments).”
The French Open’s new dates place it right after the hard-court US Open, which currently is scheduled to be held in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. Having just one week between two major championships, played on different surfaces, would be unusually short.
The US Tennis Association said later Tuesday it is considering “the possibility” of postponing the US Open because of the outbreak.
In a not-so-veiled jab at the French federation, the USTA issued a statement saying that if there were a change in timing, "we recognize that such a decision should not be made unilaterally."
The USTA added that it would only move its major championship “in full consultation” with others, including Grand Slam organizers, the WTA and ATP tours, and the International Tennis Federation.
PGA Championship will need new date
First the Masters, now the PGA Championship.
Two days after a federal recommendation to not hold events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, the PGA of America decided to postpone the second major of the year, which was set for May 14-17 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The PGA Championship will be rescheduled. Augusta National announced Friday that the Masters, scheduled for April 9-12, also would be played at a later day.
“We’re all working hard to get a date that makes sense for the championship and hopefully for Harding Park,” Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview. “Our intent is to hold the championship as close to normal, whatever that is anymore.”
The new normal is no golf for the next two months because of fears over the new coronavirus.
Shortly after the PGA Championship announcement, the PGA Tour said it was canceling an additional four tournaments on its schedule — the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.
The tour also said it was canceling three PGA Tour Champions and postponing one — the Regions Tradition, the first of five majors on the 50-and-old circuit, moves from May 7-10 to Sept. 24-27. The tour said none of its six tours, including China, Latin American, and Canada, will be holding events through at least May 10.
The LPGA Tour, which previously canceled three events in Arizona and California, is not scheduled to play again until April 15 in Hawaii, followed by two more events in California.
The PGA Tour’s statement said that as the tour gets more clarity on the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks, it would work with tournaments, sponsors, and golf organizations “to build a PGA Tour schedule for 2020 that ensures the healthy and safety for all associated with our sport, and a meaningful conclusion to the season.”
The two majors have been postponed. Next on the clock is the US Open, which remains on the schedule for June 18-21 at Winged Foot, just 5 miles away from the coronavirus containment zone set up in New Rochelle, N.Y.
The USGA said the U.S. Women’s Open (June 4-7 in Houston ) and US Open were going ahead as scheduled, but it canceled all the May qualifiers for those championships with hopes of designing a new system.
Euro 2020 postponed for a year
The European Championship, second only to the World Cup in importance and value in international soccer, will be postponed until 2021, tournament organizers announced Tuesday.
Hours later, the organizers of the Copa América, South America’s continental championship, which was scheduled to run concurrently with the Euros, announced that they would do the same, moving their event — set for Argentina and Colombia this summer — back a year.
The move by the governing body for soccer in Europe, UEFA, will clear the month of summer dates blocked out for the tournament, known as Euro 2020, and could allow national leagues that have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak to complete their seasons.
“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” UEFA’s president, Aleksandr Ceferin, said. “It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism.”
Second Yankees minor leaguer tests positive
A second New York Yankees minor leaguer has tested positive for the coronavirus in Tampa, Fla.
The player, while in self-quarantine, reported fatigue and an elevated temperature to medical personnel with the Yankees, according to the team. The player was tested Sunday and returned to self-quarantine after the positive result.
“We can also report that within the past 48 hours his symptoms have dissipated,” the team said.
New York had announced a first positive test on Sunday, and general manager Brian Cashman said the player had been isolated and the Florida Department of Health notified.
The two Yankees minor leaguers are the only baseball players known to have tested positive.
ACC, SEC officially cancels spring sports
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference canceled all spring athletic competitions due to the coronavirus, joining the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 in putting an end to their sports seasons.
The ACC last week suspended all its athletic activities indefinitely, not long after it canceled it men's basketball tournament. It took the next step Tuesday and shut everything down, putting an end to any possibility of schools holding spring football practice.
A few hours later, the SEC became the last of the Power Five conferences to cancel all spring sports competitions, including spring football games and football pro scouting days. The SEC’s suspension of athletic-related activities, including individual and team practices, remains in place through at least April 15.