17 Mar 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:52 am on 17 March 2020

Latest - Spark Sport has dropped customer charges until May.

Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool celebrates.

Liverpool FC Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With the closing down of sports around the world because of the coronavirus, the online broadcaster now has nothing to show live.

Spark Sport has the rights to NBA basketball, Formula 1 and the English Premier League, all of which are on hold.

Spark Sport plans to start charging customers again in May.

Customers can still watch archived content of the NBA, English rugby and football, WTA tennis, World Rally Championships, FIH Hockey, Formula 1 and Mixed Martial Arts.

French Olympic boss suggest a timeline for Tokyo 2020 decision

French Olympic Committee president Denis Masseglia says the coronavirus pandemic needs to be beyond its peak by the end of May for the Tokyo Olympics to go according to schedule.

Olympic rings are displayed at Japan Sport Olympic Square near national stadium in Tokyo, Japan.


"My feeling is that if we're still in the crisis by the end of May I can't see how the Games can happen (on time)," Masseglia said.

"If we are beyond the peak and the situation is getting better questions will rise about who qualifies, but we will find the least worst solution."

Masseglia added that the International Olympic Committee would hold a conference call with the National Olympic Committees later this week.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July 24-Aug 9 with the Paralympic Games due to be held from Aug 25-Sept 6.


MLB delays season again

Major League Baseball has delayed Opening Day indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Red Sox players celebrate.

Red Sox players celebrate. Photo: ©Icon Sportswire (A Division of XML Team Solutions) All Rights Reserved

The season was set to open March 26, with all 30 teams in action.

But last Thursday, MLB canceled spring training and delayed Opening Day by at least two weeks.

MLB announced that Opening Day would be pushed back in accordance with the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.


RFU suspends all rugby

The Rugby Football Union has suspended all levels of the game in England until April 14 because of coronavirus.

The announcement came soon after the Premiership was halted for five weeks.

The RFU said all activity, including club training, league and cup matches, and rugby education courses, should be stopped.

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, scheduled for early April, have also been postponed.

The Pro14 and Top 14 leagues were suspended indefinitely last week.

There are nine rounds of Premiership matches remaining before the scheduled semi-finals and final in June.

Exeter lead the table by five points after 13 rounds of fixtures.


School sports off

School Sport New Zealand has suspended all events on their calendar.

Christchurch Boys High School winners of the Maadi Cup u18 eight 

Scott Shackleton (stroke), Tom Fraser, Cameron Long, Ethan Alderlieste, Cameron Henderson, Angus Templeton, James Glover, Ben Brown + Timothy Heritage (cox)

Christchurch Boys High School Photo: © Steve McArthur / @RowingCelebration

The decision was made after the government's announcement banning all gatherings and events of 500 or more people.

The first of the major events to be called off is the Maadi Cup rowing regatta in Twizel at the end of the month.

The seconday schools regatta regularly attracts more than 2000 rowers from more than 100 schools.

In a statement Rowing NZ said they understand this will have significant impact upon school rowing programmes but remain supportive of the government's COVID-19 containment initiatives.

Other schools sporting events scheduled over the next month included dragon boating, swimming, aerobics, mountain biking, touch and water polo.

Options arise for European football

A mini-tournament to decide the Champions League and Europa League will be one option put forward to ease fixture congestion caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Champions League trophy

Liverpool Photo: PHOTOSPORT

European football's governing body, Uefa, is hosting a video conference with major stakeholders today.

Euro 2020 is set to be postponed to allow league seasons to be completed.

A source close to the situation says all parties must be ready to sacrifice something to reach a solution.

All 55 Uefa members, the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues, and a representative of world players' union Fifpro have been invited to the meeting.


WTA extends ban

No WTA women's tennis tournaments will be played until at least May 2 after the tour extended its suspension because of coronavirus.

The tour was initially on hold until April 20 but events in Stuttgart, Istanbul and Prague have now also been dropped.

The WTA says it will make a decision this week about the season's remaining European clay court tournaments in Madrid, Rome and Strasbourg.

It added it "will continue to monitor this situation closely and its impact on the 2020 WTA Tour season".


South Africa closes down football and cricket

Football and cricket activities in South Africa are being suspended as the country seeks to minimise the impact of coronavirus.

Yesterday, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa declared coronavirus a national disaster, and the South Africa Football Association and Cricket South Africa have responded by suspending their sports in the country.

Any gatherings for football of 100 people or more are now banned, while all forms of cricket have now been terminated for a 60-day period.

South Africa Rugby has suspended all national team training camps.

Yesterday the World over-50 cricket tournament in the Republic was abandoned.


Chelsea midfielder reminded of responsibilites

The Chelsea football club has reminded midfielder Mason Mount of his responsibilities after he was pictured having a kickabout despite being told to self-isolate for 14 days.

Mount's team-mate Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Chelsea expect players to adhere to official guidelines which say people should self-isolate if they come into close contact with a confirmed case.

Mount was shown playing in north London with West Ham's Declan Rice.

However, fellow England midfielder Rice, is not subject to the same self-isolation precautions as Mount because there have been no cases at his club.


Bundesliga on hold

Germany's Bundesliga and second division will pause all football matches until at least April 2 and possibly beyond due to the coronavirus.

Germany's top two divisions did not play at the weekend after matches were suspended due to the outbreak of the virus.

"I want to stress that we do not expect to play on April 3," DFL CEO Christian Seifert said.

The DFL is in charge of organising the first and second divisions of German football.

Germany has almost 5000 people infected and 12 dead from the coronavirus.


Fernandes player of the month

Manchester United's January recruit Bruno Fernandes beat the likes of Marcos Alonso and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be named the English Premier League's player of the month for February after an exceptional first month with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

Portuguese midfielder Fernandes joined United for an initial fee of $100 million and he has thrived as a playmaker in the middle of the park, winning over the fans to also be named the club's player of the month.

The 25-year-old has been pulling strings in United's attack to bag two goals -- against Watford and Everton -- and three assists in the league since his debut last month, helping the club beat top four opponents Chelsea and Manchester City.

However, the Premier League has been suspended until April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.


NFL draft to proceed without fans

The NFL announced it will proceed with the 2020 NFL Draft, but it has cancelled all public events surrounding the draft scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas.

Player selection by clubs will be televised and proceed as originally scheduled, however the league said it was "exploring innovative options" as to how to conduct the process, with details coming at a later date.