The Latest: North Carolina considering allowing NASCAR race

Sports

A locked gate is seen by the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City was due to play Burnley in an English Premier League soccer match Saturday March 14, 2020, after all English soccer games were cancelled due to the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. For most people, the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it can cause more severe illness.(AP Photo/Jon Super)

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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The governor of North Carolina is still considering a request to allow NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday extended the state’s stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus through May 8 and said he would gradually open the state in three phases.

Cooper says teams can go back to work under the state’s executive order and are permitted to work in their race shops if they maintain social distancing guidelines.

NASCAR has been hoping to hold the Coca-Cola 600 as scheduled on May 24 without spectators and has made its request to Cooper.

The governors of both Florida and Texas have already said NASCAR is welcome to race in their states without spectators, and South Carolina and Georgia are gradually easing restrictions.

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Major League Soccer has extended its training moratorium through at least May 15.

The extension announced Thursday was expected after the league announced last week it would not attempt a return to games until June 8 at the earliest. The league had originally hoped it could return to action in mid-May.

As part of the moratorium, training facilities are to remain closed to players and staff with the exception of players requiring medical treatment or for rehabilitation under the direction of the team’s medical staff and cannot be performed from their home.

The league also said players are expected to remain in the club’s respective market, but will review individual requests by players to relocate to another market by car.

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Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff says he has continued to work out during the coronavirus-imposed pandemic and wouldn’t need much time to get ready for the start of the season, whenever it begins.

Woodruff was speaking at a “virtual happy hour” the Brewers conducted with their fans Thursday via Zoom. The event also featured general manager David Stearns, Hall of Famer Robin Yount and broadcaster Brian Anderson.

Woodruff said he has continued pitching at his Mississippi home.

“I think if they said today, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a short spring training two to three weeks,’ I’d be ready to go,” Woodruff said. “I feel pretty good.”

Stearns agreed that a second preseason probably wouldn’t need to take much time once it’s decided that it’s safe enough for baseball to resume.

“Step one is we need an environment that’s safe for everyone to congregate in,” Stearns said. “We need our public health officials, our governmental officials to tell us that it’s safe. Once it’s safe, we can turn this thing on pretty quickly. Players are motivated to play. Teams are very motivated to get players back on the field.

“So once it is safe, and whether that’s congregating in Arizona, congregating at your home ballpark here in Milwaukee, we can turn this on pretty quickly. We can get guys going. We can do a spring training 2.0. I wish I could tell you when that’s going to be… but obviously we don’t know. The only thing we can do is be prepared when it comes.”

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Count University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins among those who don’t expect the college football season to start this fall.

Speaking to KVOI-AM in Tucson, Robbins said the university plans to bring back students and faculty during the fall semester, but cast a doubt on the ability to start the football season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m really concerned about whether we’re going to be playing football in the fall,” he said. “My sense right now, I just don’t see that happening.”

Connecticut President Tom Katsouleas made a similar comment while speaking to journalism students during a teleconference earlier this week.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament and put major sports across the world on hold. Numerous scenarios have been proposed, but no one is sure what’s going to happen with sports until there’s a better handle on the virus.

“What I’ve been hearing more of is that maybe doing something combining both basketball and football for the spring, so January-February 2021, and try to play both of them,” Robbins said. “There will be all kind of implications for television viewing and confusion. I don’t know. We just don’t have any answers right now.”

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The European track and field championships in Paris this summer have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Local organizers and the French track federation say the biennial event scheduled for Aug. 25-30 could not be postponed for one year. They cited uncertainty about the sport’s 2021 calendar and the French economy.

The decision came hours after the Paris Diamond League event — at the same Charléty Stadium on June 13 — was postponed with no alternative date set.

France was due to host track’s European championships for the first time since 1938.

The 2022 edition is being held in Munich, Germany.

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Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck is taking an unpaid week, along with about 200 other leaders in the university system in response to the budget crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joan Gabel announced the furloughs earlier this month.

Fleck confirmed Thursday on a video conference call with reporters he’s taking part, saying he and his wife, Heather, “immediately jumped on it.”

“Anything we can do to continue to help,” Fleck said.

Fleck’s 2020 salary is $4.6 million.

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Colorado athletic director Rick George said he and 11 head coaches will take pay cuts for the upcoming fiscal year in light of the budget impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The salaries for George along with football coach Karl Dorrell, men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle and women’s basketball coach JR Payne will be reduced by 10%. The other eight varsity head coaches will have their salaries reduced by 5%.

“It’s the right thing for all of us to do,” George said Thursday in a statement. “There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us, and while we don’t exactly know yet the financial impacts for the upcoming year, for them to agree and voluntarily take pay cuts is important at this time for our student-athletes and the overall direction of all our sports programs and support areas.”

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New York’s public university system announced plans Thursday for an esports tournament that will have students competing for $20,000 in prize money for their schools’ student emergency funds.

State University of New York Chancellor Kristina Johnson said the three-week tournament beginning Monday will help students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis has forced SUNY’s 64 campuses and universities to shift to remote instruction for the remainder of the academic year and forced many students out of jobs.

The SUNY Chancellor Esports Challenge was organized by SUNY Canton, the site of SUNY’s first varsity esports program, and co-sponsored by Extreme Networks.

Each college can enter two teams of students to compete in “Fortnite” by Epic Games, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” by Nintendo, or “Rocket League” by Psyonix. The top prize for each game is $2,000, to go to the winning team’s student emergency fund.

A $5,000 grand prize will go to the SUNY campus with the best overall score.

“Sports are a great unifier, be it on or off the field,” Extreme Networks Chief Operating Officer Norman Rice said in a statement. “In times where we aren’t able to come together in stadiums, fields, and arenas to cheer our favorite athletes, esports competition is an ideal way to keep students engaged with each other.”

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Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, and 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas are starting an auction to raise money for tennis players ranked outside the top 100 and in need of financial help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mouratoglou and Tsitsipas tweeted about Beyond 100Support on Thursday.

They say the funds will go to professionals in both men’s and women’s tennis.

Most tennis players only make money when they are able to enter tournaments. But all tennis events are suspended at least until mid-July because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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The New York Jets and team chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson and his family are making an additional $2 million donation to support the COVID-19 relief response in New York and New Jersey.

The Johnson family and the Jets last month made a joint $1 million donation to multiple local United Way agencies to help combat the pandemic.

The latest contribution, announced by the Jets on Thursday, will provide funding to organizations that are focused primarily on food insecurity, first responders and regional relief.

“No region in the country has been affected by COVID-19 more than ours and because of that, our resolve has only grown,” Johnson said in a statement. “These organizations continue to nourish the vulnerable and target the needs of those on our front lines. At no time has being a good teammate ever mattered more.”

The $1 million contribution from the Johnsons and the Jets last month supported the United Way of New York City’s COVID-19 Community Fund, the United Way of Northern New Jersey’s ALICE Recovery Fund and the United Way of Long Island’s United Together: A Response Fund for COVID-19.

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The German anti-doping agency says it plans to test soccer players if the season resumes in empty stadiums.

NADA spokeswoman Eva Bunthoff tells The Associated Press the agency has “developed concepts” for urine and blood tests at games.

The German league hopes to resume next month after a two-month shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bunthoff adds the agency is talking with the German soccer federation and the men’s league. She says “most important are the security measures to make sure there is a proper prevention system in place to prevent infections with the virus.“

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Churchill Downs will recognize the first Saturday in May with a “Kentucky Derby at Home” online party, highlighted by a virtual Derby featuring 13 former Triple Crown winners in an effort to raise $2 million for COVID-19 relief.

The 146th Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of public health concerns about pandemic, the first time horse racing’s marquee event won’t run on its traditional day since 1945. The computer-generated Derby created by Inspired Entertainment will feature past Triple Crown champions using data algorithms, including historical handicapping information for each horse to determine the probability of potential finishing positions.

“Our fans will be captivated by the realistic view of the virtual race,” Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said in a release, “and we can debate, as we do each year, our favorite to win.”

Fans can choose their horse on www.KentuckyDerby.com starting April 30 and donate to COVID-19 relief efforts. Churchill Downs will match donations up to $1 million for the Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief.

Participants who choose the winner will have the chance to win a Kentucky Derby VIP Experience. The virtual Derby will be shown May 2 on NBC during a special broadcast featuring the 2015 Kentucky Derby, when American Pharoah began his Triple Crown run.

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German clubs are being urged not to bank on ticket sales for much of next season.

League CEO Christian Seifert says “we don’t know if there will be games without fans in February or March still. We asked the club to plan without spectator income for the first part of next season.”

German clubs are hoping to resume games next month after a two-month shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic and to finish in time for many players’ contracts to end June 30. But a restart needs agreement from regional governments.

Seifert says most of the league’s broadcast partners have agreed to pay up front to help clubs continue operating until the end of June. Some of that money may have to be paid back if the 2019-20 season can’t be finished.

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UEFA says it will allow leagues to determine the final places for Champions League and Europa League qualification on “sporting merit” if they can’t resume during the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body of European soccer says qualification from a “prematurely terminated domestic competition” can be rejected if “there is a public perception of unfairness in the qualification of the club.”

UEFA says it is ideal for countries to complete seasons but acknowledges that might not be possible because of government orders banning sporting events.

UEFA also accepts “insurmountable economic problems” could make finishing seasons “impossible because it would put at risk the long-term financial stability of the domestic competition and/or clubs.”

UEFA’s own club competitions remain incomplete.

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German soccer could resume on May 9 if regional politicians sign off on the league’s plan.

The state governors of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia have said May 9 would be acceptable but other state officials have signaled they would prefer the middle or end of May.

League CEO Christian Seifert says “if the state governors and the federal government decide that this day is May 9, then we would be ready on May 9.”

Seifert says games could be held with a limit of 213 people in the stadium and up to 109 in the surrounding area.

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UEFA is sharing almost 70 million euros ($75.5 million) among 676 clubs that released players for European Championship qualifiers and Nations League games in the past two years.

UEFA says it’s releasing the money early to help “in light of the current crisis and the financial difficulties many clubs are facing” during the coronavirus pandemic.

A long-standing agreement between UEFA and the European Club Association guarantees clubs at least 200 million euros (216 million) from Euro 2020 revenues to compensate for releasing players to national duty in the 2018-20 cycle.

Payments were due after Euro 2020 but are now sending much-needed cash to clubs after the coronavirus outbreak forced the tournament to be postponed by one year.

The highest-earning club will get 630,000 euros ($680,000) calculated pro rata per player named on a national team’s match sheet. That club was not identified.

UEFA says 2.7 million euros ($2.9 million) of the money will go to clubs after the 16-nation Euro 2020 playoffs later this year.

Players selected for the Euro 2020 tournament will earn at least 130 million euros ($140 million) more for their clubs from UEFA.

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West Ham manager David Moyes has been delivering fruit and vegetables to elderly residents in his village during soccer’s lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The former Manchester United coach says he saw a sign in the window of a local shop asking for volunteers to be delivery drivers.

Moyes answered the call and says “all I was doing was dropping (the packages) at the door, knocking and then going away. It was beautiful big boxes of fruit and veg.”

He also had to ask some residents for payment if they hadn’t done so online.

Moyes says one incident “with this particular older lady, I think it was 16.80 pounds ($20.70) for one box of fruit and veg. She gave me a 20-pound note and said, ‘Here son, just keep the change.’”

The Premier League has been suspended since March 13. That was the day after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus.

Moyes had to self-isolate after that because he had come into close contact with Arteta days earlier.

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It’s still not clear when baseball or soccer will resume in Japan but it will likely be without fans when it does.

That was the decision when the heads of Japanese professional baseball and soccer met in online meetings.

Japanese baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito says “my feelings that I want to start the season without spectators haven’t changed.”

Baseball and soccer officials both agreed nothing could begin until a state of emergency was lifted in Japan. The earliest that can happen is May 6. They are expected to wait until that date before moving forward.

The J-League’s top two soccer divisions were suspended in February. Japanese baseball played some preseason games without fans before all play was stopped.

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Three more Diamond League meetings will not go ahead as scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on June 7 and the meet in Paris on June 13 have both postponed with no new dates set. The Bislett Games in Oslo on June 11 will be rebranded as the Impossible Games and turned into an exhibition event.

The first nine scheduled events of the 15-meet season have all now either been postponed, rescheduled or downgraded. The Anniversary Games in London on July 4 are now the earliest scheduled competition of the season.

There is a larger window to reschedule meets in the second half of the year because the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021.

Organizers said the meet in Oslo would still offer prize money from a $50,000 contribution by World Athletics. It will feature 400-meter hurdles world champion Karsten Warholm attempting a world record in the rarely raced 300 hurdles.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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