The NHL expects 98 percent of its players to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of the season, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Thursday. The league projects that only between 10 and 15 of roughly 700 players will not be vaccinated by the time the season begins Oct. 12. The league and the NHL Players’ Association did not impose a vaccine mandate, but restrictions — including the potential of not being able to cross the border from the United States into Canada without a lengthy quarantine — contributed to the number. Teams will be able to suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of the protocols, which could include games in Canada since Daly confirmed there is no exception in this case for the country’s quarantine rule. Fully vaccinated players will have any COVID-19 positives treated as hockey injuries and still be paid. Unvaccinated players also will have their movements restricted when on the road. And there will still be regular coronavirus testing for vaccinated players.
Sabres, Maple Leafs to play in Heritage Classic
The Buffalo Sabres’ cross-border rivalry against the Toronto Maple Leafs is heading outdoors. The Sabres are listed as the home team against the Maple Leafs in the NHL’s Heritage Classic, to be played at Tim Hortons Field, home of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, on March 13. Buffalo becomes the first US-based team to compete in what will be the sixth Heritage Classic, which is part of the NHL’s outdoor series of games and traditionally set in Canada featuring matchups of Canadian teams.
Second forfeit for Spirit, fined $25,000
The Washington Spirit will forfeit a second match and must pay a $25,000 fine, the National Women’s Soccer League announced after a coronavirus outbreak on the team earlier this month. The forfeit was for a Sept. 4 match against the Portland Thorns that was initially postponed because of positive coronavirus tests among Spirit players. Washington also had to forfeit a match against OL Reign over the weekend. In accordance with FIFA, both forfeits will be recorded as 3-0 losses for the Spirit, seriously jeopardizing Washington’s hopes of making the six-team playoffs. In the wake of the outbreak ahead of the Portland game, the league found multiple coronavirus protocol violations, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Three players were found to have violated protocols, according to another person with knowledge of the situation.
FIFA still pushes biennial World Cup
FIFA intensified its push for hosting the men’s World Cup every two years by garnering support from soccer fans around the world to help combat resistance from Europe and South America. The latest public relations tactic came in the form of an online survey commissioned by FIFA. The Associated Press does not routinely report the claims of opinion polls conducted over the internet. FIFA claimed its findings from more than 15,000 respondents aged at least 18 identified in 23 countries showed “considerable differences between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets” and younger fans more enthusiastic than older ones. A follow-up survey involving 100,000 people in more than 100 countries is now being done, FIFA said.
Davis Cup tie at Hall of Fame
New Zealand will play South Korea at this weekend’s Davis Cup tie at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. This is the third time a tie has been played on the Hall’s grass courts. The teams are competing on neutral ground because New Zealand was unable to host because of pandemic travel restrictions. Rubin Statham, New Zealand’s top-ranked player, will take on Jisung Nam in the first singles Friday, followed by New Zealand rookie Finn Reynolds playing Soonwoo Kwon, the top-ranked player in South Korea. On Saturday, Olympic bronze medalists Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell will play Nam and MinKyu Song in the doubles. If necessary, reverse singles will follow to decide the tie.
Prize money at world championship
The boundary between amateur and professional boxing blurred further with the International Boxing Association offering prize money of up to $100,000 for the first time at the historically amateur men’s world championships. AIBA said a total prize fund of $2.6 million was in place to award medalists in each category, with $100,000 for gold, $50,000 for silver and $25,000 for bronze. The men’s championships will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, from Oct. 24 to Nov. 6. AIBA did not immediately respond to a question from the Associated Press about whether it plans to have prize money at the women’s world championships. That event is scheduled for this year but has no listed venue or dates on AIBA’s competition calendar.
Ex-Kenyan sports minister fined
Kenya’s former sports minister Hassan Wario paid a fine of just more than $32,000 to avoid a six-year jail sentence after he was convicted of corruption and abuse of office for misappropriating more than $800,000 set aside for the country’s 2016 Olympic team. Wario paid the fine and was released from custody soon after the sentencing hearing, provoking uproar from some Kenyans on social media. Stephen Soi, a co-accused in the trial who was the Kenyan team’s chef de mission in Rio de Janeiro, was also convicted on the same charges and sentenced to 12 years in jail or a fine of about $950,000 … Australian swimmer Shayna Jack was cleared to resume her competitive career after a doping case that forced her to miss the Tokyo Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it rejected appeals by the World Anti-Doping Agency and Sport Integrity Australia, who called for a four-year ban instead of the two years she finished serving in July. Jack tested positive for the anabolic agent ligandrol ahead of the 2019 world championships. The 22-year-old swimmer, a four-time medalist in relays at the 2017 worlds, denied doping and blamed a contaminated supplement.
Jockey banned 10 years
Jockey Tomas Mejia was banned 10 years for using an electronic device to win a race at Monmouth Park horse racing track in Oceanport, N.J., earlier this month. The track’s stewards also fined the 26-year-old Mejia $5,000 and recommended that the New Jersey Racing Commission permanently revoke his jockey’s license. Tracks around the country will uphold the ban … NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the US and join the Milwaukee Bucks later that year … A doctor from Moldova was banned from sports for life for arranging for lookalikes to give drug testing samples under the names of real weightlifters heading for the world championships. The International Testing Agency said that Dorin Balmus represented three Moldovan athletes in 2015 when they were asked to provide samples shortly before competing at the world championships in Houston. The ITA said three lookalikes took on the identities of the weightlifters because they were “each undergoing a doping cycle at the time” and risked testing positive. All three were able to compete at the world championships but later received doping bans.