8 May 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

8:10 am on 8 May 2020

Latest - IndyCar will open its delayed season without fans on June 6 in Texas and with strict guidelines amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand driver Scott Dixon Chip Genassi Racing Honda.

Scott Dixon Photo: PHOTOSPORT

IndyCar, which postponed racing in mid-March over concerns about coronavirus, said the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway will now be a one-day event that includes practice, qualifying and the race.

IndyCar President Jay Frye said the sanctioning body worked closely with TMS and health officials on a plan to "ensure the safety of our event participants alongside an exciting return to competition for our drivers, teams and viewers tuning in from around the world."

IndyCar, which earlier this year postponed the Indianapolis 500 to August 23 from May 24, also said the remainder of the updated, 15-race IndyCar calendar for 2020, announced on April 6, remains on schedule for competition.

In a tweet New Zealand's five-time Indycars champion Scott Dixon said "YeeeeHawww Lets Go!"

Earlier this week, NASCAR said its season would resume without fans on May 17.


Maitland breaks isolation rules

The New Zealand rugby player Sean Maitland was among a group of Saracens players breaking the coronavirus lockdown regulations in Britain.

New Zealand-born Scotland rugby player Sean Maitland.

Sean Maitland Photo: PHOTOSPORT

England's Billy Vunipola, Alex Goode and Nick Isiekwe, Scotland back Maitland and prop Josh Ibuanokpe were reportedly spotted in St Albans.

The Premiership season is currently suspended because of the pandemic.

"Management has spoken to the players involved, all of whom accept that they made an error in judgement," said a Saracens statement.

"The club has reminded these players as well as the whole Saracens squad of their responsibilities to themselves and the community around them and we are confident that this will not happen again."

Although the Premiership season has yet to be concluded, reigning champions Saracens have already been relegated following a 70-point deduction for persistent breaches of salary cap regulations.

The tournament has yet to be concluded because the final round of fixtures in March had to be postponed because of coronavirus.


NBA training returns for some

The NBA has given its approval for teams to reopen their practice facilities on a limited basis tomorrow, but only three teams have confirmed they will.

Portland Trail Blazers' Enes Kanter  looks to pass during an NBA basketball game between Los Angeles Lakers.


The Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets will allow a small number of players in the building at one time.

However the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he isn't willing to put his players and others at risk, citing the lack of available testing.

The NBA suspended play on March 11 after All-Star center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. League officials have hoped to restart the season, and an NBA memo to teams said no more than four players could use that facility at one time beginning Friday.

Some teams are following their state's stay-at-home orders to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, while other teams are monitoring conditions in their area before making a decision.


MotoGP hopes to start in Spain in JUly

MotoGP has proposed starting its season, after months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It said the regional government of Andalusia, the city council of Jerez and series promoters Dorna had agreed to make a proposal to the Spanish government.

If approved, Jerez would host MotoGP grands prix on July 19 and 26 as well as a round of the world superbike championship on Aug. 2.

The season-opening race would be designated the Spanish Grand Prix and the second the Grand Prix of Andalusia.

MotoGP did not give details of how they would stage the races but all are expected to be run behind closed doors and with only essential staff.


NRL meets with players about flu jabs

Australia's National Rugby League is meeting with the players' union to discuss its policy on flu vaccinations after several players refused them.

The NRL has asked players to take flu shots as part of biosecurity protocols to resume the season on May 28 after its suspension after two rounds due to the coronavirus in March.

Media have reported that up to a dozen players have declined the shots, including Gold Coast Titans' Bryce Cartwright and three Canberra Raiders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison waded into the issue on Wednesday, saying that players should not be able to train or play without the vaccinations.

An NRL spokesperson said players who refused the shot would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their club and NRL medical staff.

A spokesman for the Rugby League Players' Association said the union encouraged players to get the shots but added that they had the option to sign a waiver which would allow them to train and be available for selection while their case was dealt with by the NRL.


F1 may not start at all this season

Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey has admitted that the sport's owners are preparing for "the remote possibility of no racing in 2020".

Formula 1 pre-season testing

Formula 1 pre-season testing Photo: Actionplus

He said they discussed with lenders how to handle the loss of income involved in not being able to run a season.

But he emphasised: "We are increasingly confident - although there are no guarantees - that we will have a 2020 championship season."

F1 released figures showing income fell by 84% in the first quarter of 2019.

Owner Liberty Media said F1's revenue in the first quarter of 2020 was $64 million compared to $404 million in the same period in 2019.


Bundesliga start date confirmed

The Bundesliga season will restart on May 16, becoming the first European football league to resume amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The German Football League said the season would resume under the terms of a strict health protocol that bans fans from the stadium, with several matches including the Ruhr valley derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 taking place on the relaunch day.

While it was no normal restart given the empty stands and other restrictions, it was crucial to resume play, DFL CEO Christian Seifert told a news conference.

He was speaking after a meeting with first and second division clubs following the government's decision on Wednesday to give the green light for the Bundesliga restart and throw a financial lifeline to the cash-strapped clubs.

The league has been on hold since mid-March because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has brought football to a standstill around the world.

Bayern Munich, chasing an eighth successive title, currently lead the table with 55 points from 25 games, four ahead of Borussia Dortmund with RB Leipzig third on 50. There are nine rounds of matches left to play.


Joshua-Pulev bout could be in Croatia

Mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev's IBF heavyweight title fight against Anthony Joshua could take place in front of a crowd at a Roman Amphitheatre in Croatia.

The 38-year-old Bulgarian, a former European amateur super-heavyweight champion, was due to meet Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on June 20 but the fight was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week the British Boxing Board of Control said it hoped professional boxing could resume in July without spectators but promoter Eddie Hearn said Joshua would fight behind closed doors only as a "last resort".

The Roman Amphitheatre in the northern Adriatic city of Pula is well-known for hosting concerts of top class artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Elton John. Two ice hockey games were played there in 2012.

The 30-year-old Briton reclaimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a unanimous points win over Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia in December.

Joshua was initially due to fight Pulev in Cardiff in October 2017 but the Bulgarian, known as "The Cobra", withdrew after suffering a shoulder injury in sparring.


Dutch sport won't return until vaccine is found

Sporting events in the Netherlands will have to take place without fans in attendance until there is a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

The global pandemic has infected over 41,000 people in the Netherlands and caused 5,288 deaths.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday organised sport could resume from Sept. 1, but Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said mass gatherings would not be allowed until a vaccine had been developed.

The top-flight Dutch football league was brought to an end last month after the government extended a ban on public events, with no league title awarded and relegation and promotion scrapped.