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How sports leagues, federations and teams are addressing coronavirus outbreak

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach delivers a statement on the COVID-19 situation during a meeting of the executive board at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach delivers a statement on the COVID-19 situation during a meeting of the executive board at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
(Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images)

The most up-to-date coronavirus news from the sports world can be found here.

Sports leagues and federations across the world are addressing the spread of the coronavirus.

While most North American sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL are monitoring the situation, leagues in other parts of the world are taking action by canceling events and playing in empty stadiums.

Los Angeles County officials have discussed the possibility of banning spectators from attending sporting events in Southern California in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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Here is a sport-by-sport look at what leagues and federations are doing to address the COVID-19 outbreak:

United States

NBA: In a memo sent to teams March 1, the league and the NBA Players’ Assn. stated they are “closely monitoring the coronavirus situation” and are in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The memo also recommended that players avoid giving high-fives with interacting with fans and avoid borrowing pens and markers from fans requesting autographs. No plans have been made to cancel games or bar fans from attending. However, the league reportedly is asking teams to come up with contingency plans if it decides to ban spectators from games. In a statement, Staples Center encouraged fans who are planning to attend events at the arena to “engage in safe hygiene practices” and “stay home if they feel unwell.”

MLB: The league has established an internal task force to deal with issues related to coronavirus in the coming months, according to a memo sent to high-ranking baseball officials on March 3 obtained by ESPN. Baseball has no plans to cancel or ban fans from attending games. The memo advises players not to shake hands with fans and not use pens and markers from fans to sign autographs. It also asks teams to make sure all players have received the 2019-20 flu vaccine and other necessary vaccinations.

NFL: NFL Media reported March 3 that the league is “closely monitoring developments” related to coronavirus and that it is still planning to hold the NFL draft in Las Vegas on April 23-25. In addition, individual pro days for draft-eligible players will begin as scheduled on Thursday. The NFL’s annual meeting, which is attended by team owners, general managers and coaches, is still scheduled to be held March 29-April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla.

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NHL: Starting March 7, the league reportedly is barring media access to locker rooms in concordance with CDC recommendations. Commissioner Gary Bettman said March 4 that the league is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak but declined to say whether games could be altered, canceled or rescheduled. He also wouldn’t speculate on whether the league would consider playing in empty arenas or postponing the playoffs. All NHL employees have been barred from traveling outside North America for business purposes. Scouts based in Europe have to stay in Europe or be quarantined upon arriving in North America, Bettman said.

NCAA: The college athletics sanctioning body says it is monitoring the outbreak but that it has no plans to make changes for the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. “The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief operating officer, said in a statement on March 3. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned; however, we are evaluating the covid-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.” Missouri-Kansas City and Chicago State announced they are canceling trips to Seattle for scheduled Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball games this week. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said it will not allow spectators to attend the Division III basketball tournament games its hosting starting March 6 because of three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland. USC announced all athletic events are being played as scheduled.

MLS: The league has created a task force to monitor the coronavirus outbreak. Sports teams in Los Angeles County, including the Galaxy and LAFC, have been warned they may be asked to cancel games or play them in empty stadiums after the county declared a health emergency on March 4 to deal with the coronavirus. “This could be that games are played but there are no spectators,” L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said. “This could be that there are limits to how people are going to gather... But I want to reassure everyone we are not there today.”

XFL: The league informed its players Thursday that the remainder of the 2020 season will not be played. The XFL launched a task force to closely monitor the spread of the coronavirus. It is also in regular contact with health and public safety officials at the national and local levels.

NASCAR: The next two races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Miami-Homestead Speedway has been postponed, NASCAR announced Friday. No makeup dates were announced.

IndyCar: The racing league’s sanctioning body is closely monitoring the situation but does not expect any changes to its season opener, which takes place in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 15. However, it will not hold the Grand Prix of Long Beach on its originally scheduled date of April 19. The league is working with Long Beach officials to schedule a new date for the race later this year.

PGA/Golf: The PGA Tour canceled the final three rounds of The Players Championship on Thursday and announced the next three events on the PGA calendar through the Valero Texas Open on April 2-5 have been canceled. On Friday, the Masters was postponed but no makeup date was announced for the tournament, which was originally scheduled for April 9-12.

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Boston Marathon: Organizers postponed the race on Friday. No makeup date was announced.

LPGA: The league announced on Thursday it has postponed the next three events on its calendar. It’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration has been postponed in addition to the Volvik Founders Cup and Kia Classic.

Santa Anita (horse racing): The Arcadia-based horse racing track said in a statement on March 4 that it is monitoring the situation and is “taking procedures necessary for the health and safety and well-being of our fans, staff and horsemen, including adding numerous hand-sanitizing stations throughout the facility.”

International

International Olympic Committee (Tokyo 2020 Olympics): No plans have been made to reschedule or cancel the Olympics, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9. “We remain very confident with regard to the success of these Olympic Games,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on March 3. The IOC has formed a task force that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese government to monitor the situation.

Premier League: The English league has informed its clubs of a contingency plan should large gatherings be banned because of the coronavirus spread. In the meantime, the league has advised teams to pay increased attention to hygiene at stadiums and training grounds, reduce the number of nonessential visitors to team facilities and minimize any face-to-face meetings.

Bundesliga: The German Football League, which operates Bundesliga, said in a statement last week that it is monitoring the situation but wasn’t considering postponing matches at that point. FC Bayern Munich has advised its players to refrain from signing autographs and posing for selfies with fans.

Ligue 1: The French league is altering its pregame routines due to the coronavirus. Handshakes among players, coaches and officials are prohibited until further notice. Players will continue to be escorted to the field by youth players but will hold the youngsters by the shoulder, rather than by hand as is customary. All matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 will be played in front of a maximum of 1,000 spectators until April 15.

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Serie A: Italy has closed all sporting events to the general public until April 3 amid a coronavirus outbreak in the country. The Italian soccer league postponed games on its schedule this week but will resume this weekend, according to the Associated Press. More than 100 people have died in Italy, and more than 3,000 have been infected with COVID-19.

WTA: The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, one of the top tennis tournaments in the world, was canceled on March 8 over coronavirus concerns. The Kunming Open, which was scheduled for April 27-May 3 in Anning, China, has been canceled. The Xi’an Open in China from April 13-19 also has been canceled.

ATP: Two events in China were canceled and another event in Italy was called off last month amid coronavirus concerns. No other events have been canceled or rescheduled. In addition, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells was canceled on March 8.

Korean and Japanese baseball leagues: The Japanese baseball league announced last week that it has barred fans from attending exhibition games. The South Korean league canceled its exhibition games. Neither league has committed to starting their regular seasons as scheduled — March 20 in Japan, March 28 in South Korea.

Formula One: The globe-trotting racing series will ban spectators from attending the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 22. Ross Brawn, Formula One’s managing director, said races remain scheduled for Australia and Bahrain in March and Vietnam in April, but said the situation could change. “It’s a very serious situation, so I don’t want to underplay it,” Brawn told Reuters on March 3. “But we’re trying to have races. We’ve got to do them in a responsible way.” Formula One earlier postponed the Chinese Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled for April 19.

International Ice Hockey Federation: The women’s world championships, scheduled for March 31-April 10 in Canada, have been canceled. Switzerland’s national hockey league has suspended the playing of games from March 2-15.

MotoGP: The season-opening Qatar Grand Prix in Doha, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled and the second race of the season in Thailand has been postponed. The season is scheduled to open April 5 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

World Cup Skiing: The competition’s finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, scheduled from March 18-22, were called off after an emergency International Ski Federation board meeting March 6.

Times staff writers Chuck Schilken, Kevin Baxter, Tania Ganguli, Soumya Karlamangla, Jeff Miller, Helene Elliott, Houston Mitchell and Bill Shaikin contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.


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