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Coronavirus notebook

NY governor OKs teams to open training camps

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called from "a return to normalcy" that will come with the resumption of professional sports.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called from "a return to normalcy" that will come with the resumption of professional sports.Al Bello/Photographer: Al Bello/Getty Ima

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months.

“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference Sunday.

The New York City area was one of the hardest-hit parts of the United States by the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 deaths and new infections in the state have been trending downward.

Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL are discussing the resumption of their seasons with their players’ unions.

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“I believe that sports that can come back without having people in the stadium, without having people in the arena — do it! Do it!” Cuomo said. “Work out the economics, if you can. We want you up. We want people to be able to watch sports.

“To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It’s a return to normalcy. So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we’ll work with them to make sure that can happen.”

Fans cheer on as soccer champ decided in Belarus

BATE Borisov has won the Belarusian Cup with thousands of fans watching in a rare case of a soccer trophy being decided during the pandemic.

The Belarus soccer federation said that 5,761 tickets were sold for the game. That was only a fraction of the stadium’s capacity so that fans would be spaced around the arena. However, many supporters ignored the seating arrangements to sit in groups and most did not wear masks.

Fans react during the Belarusian Cup final match between BATE Borisov and Dynamo Brest in Minsk on Sunday.
Fans react during the Belarusian Cup final match between BATE Borisov and Dynamo Brest in Minsk on Sunday.Sergei Grits/Associated Press

BATE beat Dynamo Brest, 1-0, with a goal from defender Zakhar Volkov from a corner right at the end of extra time.

It was the fourth occasion that BATE has won the cup. Some fan groups had earlier called on their members not to attend games during the coronavirus pandemic; Belarus has not stopped holding public gatherings with spectators.

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Spain green-lights Seville derby June 11

The president of the Spanish soccer league said the competition could restart as early as June 11 with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis.

Javier Tebas made the announcement a day after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said that the league would be allowed to resume from June 8 as long as the country continued to keep the coronavirus outbreak in check.

Tebas said the popular Seville derby in the top tier would be a good way to mark the return to competition and “honor those who have lost their lives” during the pandemic in Spain with more than 28,000 deaths.

Teams will be allowed to train with groups of 14 players beginning Monday, up from 10 players the past week. Full-squad sessions are scheduled for upcoming weeks.

In England, Hull announced it is the League Championship club with two personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19.

A total of 1,014 players and staff from all 24 clubs in England's second tier were tested for the coronavirus over the last 72 hours and the results reflect an almost identical ratio of positive results to that found in the Premier League’s second wave of testing.

It had been announced that the two individuals were from the same club, without naming Hull.

“Medical confidentiality means the names will not be disclosed, and the club asks for this to be respected,” Hull said in a statement. “The duo, who are both asymptomatic and feeling no ill effects, will now self-isolate for seven days — in line with the protocols set out in EFL guidelines — before being tested again at a later date.”

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Hull, which is immediately above the relegation zone in the second tier of English football, did not say if any of the two are current players.

In the Premier League, a Bournemouth player is one of two positive tests for COVID-19 to emerge from the second round of testing, the club said.

The league tested 996 players and club staff Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. In the first round of tests of 748 people, there were six positives from three clubs. All are in seven days of self-isolation. In the second round, the number of tests available to each club was increased from 40 to 50.

Iditarod winner stuck in Alaska

Thomas Waerner won this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March, but he is still waiting to return to his home in Norway.

Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

“I like Alaska a lot,” Waerner said. “It’s kind of my dream place. But I have a family.”

Waerner has five children and 35 other sled dogs in Torpa, Norway.

He missed the 10th birthday of one of his children and misses morning coffee with his wife, Guro, who left Alaska in March shortly before health restrictions stopped travel.

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Waerner, 47, plans to fly home in early June on a DC-6 aircraft bound for the Air History Museum in Sola, Norway. Everts Air Cargo of Fairbanks is selling the historic plane, and Waerner said the museum is expected to finalize the deal this week.

“We are hitchhiking,” Waerner said. “The plane is going to Norway, and we are going with them. We are so lucky.”

Prior to the trip Waerner is expected to undergo a COVID-19 test and collect his dogs from a kennel in Salcha owned by fellow musher Arleigh Reynolds.

Waerner said he has friends in the Alaska towns of Ester and Salcha and often spends a few days around Fairbanks after the Iditarod. This year, a few days turned into more than a few weeks and Waerner is ready to resume his normal life.

World TeamTennis to play full season at W.Va. resort

World TeamTennis, the coed professional tennis league that has operated in summers after Wimbledon since the 1970s, has chosen a site in West Virginia to conduct its entire 2020 season, according to several people familiar with the league’s plans.

Play on the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours has been suspended until at least Aug. 3, but World TeamTennis plans to stage a three-week season featuring nine teams from July 12 to Aug. 1 at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

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Among the players who have committed to participate are reigning Australian Open women’s singles champion, Sofia Kenin; the 2017 US Open women’s singles champion, Sloane Stephens; and the most successful men’s doubles team in the game’s history, twins Bob and Mike Bryan. With no tournaments available on either the ATP or the WTA tours for the next two months, World TeamTennis officials are expected to pursue other marquee signings.

Carlos Silva, the league’s chief executive, said last week that WTT was “still on track for July 12” to open the season, adding that an announcement about site selection was imminent. The Greenbrier is owned by Jim Justice, the state’s governor.

Matches in World TeamTennis consist of sets to five games (rather than to six) in men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. The league, still one of the few in pro sports that enables men and women to play on the same team, was founded in 1974 with Billie Jean King as a driving force.

This month, there have been some regional exhibition events, including separate men’s and women’s four-player fields in Florida that featured top-50 players. World TeamTennis is not tour-level tennis, but it is regarded as more competitive than exhibition play, offering nearly $5 million in total prize money, including $1 million for the playoffs. CBS and ESPN have been confirmed as World TeamTennis broadcast partners.

Florida high school football coach suspended

Max Edwards, the Florida coach whose high school football teams have won three straight state championships, was suspended pending an investigation into “an unauthorized athletic activity” during the pandemic.

Edwards, the head coach at Miami Northwestern, allegedly held “an unsanctioned event” at a time when schools were closed and athletics across the state were suspended. Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a Miami-Dade County Public schools spokeswoman, said in a statement provided to the Miami Herald that the school’s investigation had begun “as soon as it learned about this unauthorized athletic activity.”

She added, "Further action may be taken against others who may have been involved in this unsanctioned event. The school is in the process of communicating with parents of students who may have participated."

Athletic events were suspended by the Greater Miami Athletic Conference March 13, when schools were closed. All high school athletic events in the state were halted by the Florida High School Athletic Association March 18, nine days before spring football practices were to begin.

Alaska Baseball League pulls plug on season

The Alaska Baseball League has canceled its summer season, as the future of sports worldwide remains uncertain during the pandemic.

“To operate this summer without the ability to keep all involved safe from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, we as a league have decided not to proceed this summer,” the league website reads.

The summer league season was scheduled to begin June 29.

The five-team league, which was founded in 1969, is made up of college players from mostly the Lower 48 but also from places as far away as Taiwan. If competition resumed on time, travel, and housing would have been a logistical challenge during the seven weeks of play, KTVA-TV reported.