The International Ice Hockey Federation is scrambling to reschedule the women’s world hockey championships after health officials in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Wednesday scrapped plans to hold the tournament next month because of COVID-19 concerns. IIHF chief Rene Fasel said he was blindsided by the decision, which was made at essentially the last minute. Teams were preparing to travel to Canada over the next two days to satisfy the nation’s quarantine regulations for foreign travelers. “At 5 o’clock this morning, this was a go. At 7:30 it was not,” Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said on a video call with reporters. “Some of this is much, much further beyond our control than we would like.” The 10-team tournament was scheduled to be held from May 6-16 in Halifax and Truro, the same communities that were supposed to host the event a year ago before it was called off. The IIHF had already pushed back the event’s opening by a month due to recommendations from health officials. Fasel said the focus is now on rescheduling the tournament to potentially this summer and holding it in either Nova Scotia, elsewhere in Canada or finding another host nation. He said the initial plan is to have Nova Scotia host the event in August. The women’s championship was canceled last year because of the pandemic, and Fasel called it imperative to hold this year’s tournament because it is the final one before the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Hockey Canada president Scott Smith said there was no room for negotiations with Nova Scotia health officials, who expressed comfort in hosting the event as recently as Tuesday. That changed, Hockey Canada officials said, because of a spike in virus cases in the province.
James Harden suffers hamstring injury setback
After a setback for star guard James Harden in his recovery from a hamstring injury, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash made the painful admission Tuesday night that Harden might be sidelined until the start of the NBA postseason next month. The Nets have had a healthy Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving all on the court for just 186 minutes this season across seven games since acquiring Harden from the Houston Rockets in a Jan. 14 trade. Even if Harden can come back before the Nets complete their 14 remaining regular-season games, they will be chasing the first championship in the franchise’s NBA history with less on-court time together for their three stars than any team of recent vintage regarded a title contender... Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff will miss Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls due to personal reasons. The team said in a statement that Bickerstaff, who is in his first full season with Cleveland, will be replaced on the sideline by assistant coach Greg Buckner. The Cavaliers expect Bickerstaff to return for Friday night’s game at Charlotte. The 42-year-old Bickerstaff took over last season when John Beilein stepped down at the All-Star break. Cleveland went 5-6 under Bickerstaff before the season was stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic... Rockets guard Sterling Brown is back in Houston recovering from injuries sustained when he was assaulted outside a strip club in Miami early Monday morning. “He’s recovering,” coach Stephen Silas said. “He was assaulted and he has bumps and bruises and stuff like that, so stuff like that usually gets a little bit worse ... before it gets better.” The Rockets were in Miami to play the Heat when the incident occurred.
Nadal advances at Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal needed three sets to beat his 111th-ranked opponent in his first match at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday, overcoming a slow start to defeat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the clay-court tournament. The Spaniard lost the first two games and struggled to hold his serve in the third. He recovered quickly after losing the first set and cruised in the second, then broke early in the third. Nadal is seeking a record 12th title in the Barcelona tournament, having won the event six times in its last nine editions. The Barcelona Open was not played last year because of the coronavirus pandemic... After resisting offers to take his team into the ill-fated Super League, Paris Saint-Germain’s president was picked to lead the network of European soccer clubs on Wednesday. Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s selection as European Club Association chairman extends a stellar week in soccer politics for PSG and Bayern Munich — the two most notable absences from the rebel Super League group... Tony Finau and Cameron Champ are among the PGA Tour players primed to take some unusual risks and big swings this week, as the tour is back in New Orleans with the Zurich Classic’s two-man team format being held for the first time since 2019. While the second and final rounds call for players on each team to alternate shots, it’s a best-ball format in the first round Thursday and third round Saturday... Veronica Burton, daughter of WBZ sports director Steve Burton, was named one of USA Basketball’s 13 finalists for the 2021 AmeriCup. Burton played basketball at Newton South High School and was an All-Big Ten First Team selection for Northwestern this season.