Update: the state of play, Monday 25 May 2020

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Jockeys will have to wear masks if racing returns to Britain as planned next month (see horse racing item)

Organisers of the postponed French Open Grand Slam say they are working closely with the US Open to avoid a clash of dates after the Roland Garros event was moved to September. Meanwhile defending champions Bayern Munich kept their four-point lead over Borussia Dormund at the top of the German Bundesliga with a 5-2 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Here is our update on further cancellations, postponements, rescheduling and implications for the future of various sports as the world looks to see some light through the shadow cast by Covid-19 which has affected the staging of every major event.

Football

In England, the Premier League is “as confident as we can be” about restarting the season in June, chief executive Richard Masters told BBC Sport. Players resumed training last Tuesday, but there have now been eight positive tests for Covid-19 across five EPL clubs. The league was suspended on 13 March and 12 June was identified as a possible restart date. “There is some momentum. We’ve taken the first step,” Masters said. “It’s great for everybody, including the fans, to see our players back on the training ground.” Matches would be played behind closed doors. When play was suspended, Liverpool were runaway leaders, 25 points ahead of defending champions Manchester City with a game in hand. In Scotland, Celtic were confirmed as Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row and Hearts have been relegated after the SPFL ended the season. The decision was taken at a board meeting a week ago after the 12 clubs agreed that completing the campaign was unfeasible. Average points per game played has been used to determine final placings. Celtic were leading arch rivals Rangers by 13 points.

In Germany, Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich will take a four-point lead into Tuesday’s top-of-the-table clash with Borussia Dortmund following an entertaining 5-2 home victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. With Dortmund having narrowed the gap at the top to a single point earlier on Saturday with a 2-0 away victory over VfL Wolfsburg , Bayern responded superbly. Leon Goretzka’s polished strike and a close-range Thomas Muller finish gave them a 2-0 half-time lead, and Polish striker Robert Lewandowski made it 3-0 with a header less than a minute into the second half. But Frankfurt staged an unlikely fightback, scoring twice in three minutes to make it 3-2. However hopes of a famous result were dashed when Alphonso Davies capitalised on a defensive mistake to make it 4-2 before Hinteregger bundled the ball over his own line following Serge Gnabry’s flick for Bayern’s fifth.

In Spain, La Liga can resume behind closed doors from 8 June, Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez has said. The league’s president Javier Tebas had said earlier he hoped that the season would restart on 12 June. La Liga players last week started training in groups of no more than 10. “Spain has done what it should and now new horizons are opening for everyone. The time has come to bring back many day-to-day activities,” said Sanchez. “From 8 June, La Liga will be back. Spanish football has a huge following but it will not be the only recreational activity that will return.” Reports in Spain suggest the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis will be the first La Liga game to take place. La Liga teams have 11 games to play this season, with leaders Barcelona two points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the division.

In Italy, there was a “99 per cent” chance the Italian government would allow Serie A to resume on 13 June, the head of the country’s Olympic committee (Coni) has said. Clubs are back in training and the league approved 13 June for resumption if permitted by the government. Serie A was suspended on 9 March with most teams having 12 games to play. “To talk about the chances of it finishing, you would need a crystal ball,” Coni president Giovanni Malago said. “It’s a real risk, but Serie A’s primary and only objective is to restart.” Juventus, chasing their ninth consecutive Serie A title, are top of the league, a point ahead of Lazio. Players have been training individually at their clubs for a couple of weeks but they will now be able to train in groups as of Monday.

In France,  a French judge has rejected appeals by Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse over the decision of the French football league (LFP) to end its season, the governing body said on Friday.“The LFP was pleased to learn that the appeals lodged by Olympique Lyonnais, Amiens SC and Toulouse FC were rejected by the summary judge of the Paris Administrative Court,” the LFP said in a statement. Tthe season was called off by the government with defending champions Paris Saint Germain awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille. Lyon said they would claim damages after being denied a European spot. Amiens and Toulouse were relegated.

In Portugal, Primeira Liga will resume on 3 June, with Portimonense against Gil Vicente and Famalicao hosting leaders Porto who lead rivals Benfica by a point with 10 rounds left. In Belgium, Club Bruges have been declared Belgian champions after the country’s Pro League confirmed last month’s decision to bring the season to a premature halt. They had an unassailable 15-point lead over Gent with one match left when the season was suspended.

On the European stage, UEFA President Aleksander Cerefin said it had a concrete plan for finishing the European season in August with the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League likely to be played in that month. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are expected to be played over two legs. Euro 2020, Europe’s flagship tournament, has already been postponed and would be held from 11 June to July 11, 2021.

Formula One

Formula One remains hopeful about the chances of racing at Britain’s Silverstone circuit in July and August despite quarantine measures confirmed by the UK Government on Friday.  A 14-day quarantine will be introduced from 8 June for travellers arriving from abroad. No exemptions for sport were mentioned but a Formula One spokesman and Silverstone manager Stuart Pringle said talks were continuing. “We have been working closely with government on the implications of the policy for Formula One and Silverstone,” said the spokesman. “I remain optimistic that a sensible and pragmatic solution, which puts the onus on the sport quite rightly to come up with the right solution, can be found.” Pringle told Sky Sports. Formula One’s season has yet to start, with three races cancelled — including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix that would have been held this weekend — and seven others postponed. Formula One and Silverstone have agreed terms for two races without spectators at the circuit this season, subject to government approval. The British Grand Prix  is scheduled for 19 July..The races would be back-to-back at the circuit that is celebrating the 70th anniversary of hosting the first Formula One world championship race. Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey. Carey said earlier this month the goal remained to start the season in Austria on the first weekend in July, and that it was likely this would be followed by a second race at the Red Bull Ring the on 11-12 July. It would be followed by the two races at Silverstone, also without spectators. Carey said he believed it would be possible to have a championship of 15-18 races,

Motor Sports

MotoGP promoter Dorna Sports is set to cancel its wildcard system in all three categories for the 2020 season, which will leave three-times world champion Jorge Lorenzo without a ride when the 2020 MotoGP season gets under way with the Catalan Grand Prix at Jerez on 19 July. Dorna Sports has put in place several security measures to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus and one of those measures is to reduce the number of team personnel in the paddock. That means the current wildcard system will be scrapped for MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, Motorsport.com reported. Lorenzo retired in 2019 but was due to return for a guest appearance. The MotoGp, motorcycling’s premier competition, is scheduled to start its season after months of delay with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.The second race would be the Grand Prix of Andalusia. The first 11 races in the 2020 season have been affected across Europe, Asia and Australia. In other motor sports, the 2020 Isle of Man Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix, scheduled from 22 August to 4 September, have been cancelled along with the 2020 North West 200 and Isle of Man TT international road races, the 2020 Ulster Grand Prix and the Munster 100, scheduled for June, and the Faugheen 50, scheduled for July.  The Le Mans 24 hours race was postponed from 13-14 June to 19-20 September. The Indianapolis 500, one of the world’s biggest single-day sporting events with an estimated crowd topping 350,000, has been postponed until 23 August.

The Olympics

Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission chairman John Coates has said that organisers had “real problems” over the postponed Olympic Games with countries struggling to control the coronavirus crisis. Coates warned that Tokyo 2020 would need to begin preparing for a very different Olympic Games if there were no signs of the pandemic being eradicated by October. He told a news conference that one of the key challenges was arrival of athletes from across the world into Japan, with several countries struggling to slow the spread of coronavirus. “We’ve got real problems because we’ve got athletes having to come from 206 different nations,” Coates said. “We’ve got 11,000 athletes coming, 5,000 technical officials and coaches, 20,000 media, we’ve got 4,000 working on the Organising Committee there at the moment and there will be 60,000 volunteers coming.” Tokyo 2020 is now scheduled to run from 23 July to 8 August next year but health experts have also cast doubt on whether the Games could be held next summer without a vaccine or effective drugs to treat Covid-19.

Cricket

Up to 18 bowlers took part in staggered sessions across seven grounds from last Thursday as the first England players began individual training. Chester-le-Street, Edgbaston, Hove, Old Trafford, Taunton, The Oval and Trent Bridge have hosted at least one session. Batsmen and wicketkeepers will return to individual training from 1 June. About 30 players in total – centrally contracted and from the county system – will be invited to train. The ECB says it expects additional venues will be added to accommodate these sessions and will confirm which grounds are to be used nearer the time. There will be no cricket in England or Wales until at least 1 July. The shutdown has meant the postponement of the Test series against West Indies, which was scheduled for June. Of those tournaments cancelled or postponed, The Hundred. the ECB’s new city-based tournament, will now take place next year. The 100-ball competition, involving eight teams in separate men’s and women’s tournaments, was due to begin on 17 July and end on 15 August. If and when the 2020 season does begin, the national governing body has already stated it will focus on delivering men’s and women’s internationals, as well as domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions, in the period between July and the end of September. However, it seems likely the majority of cricket would have to be played behind closed doors The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) has already been suspended “until further notice”.

Tennis

French Open director Guy Forget has said he was working hand in hand with tennis authorities to make sure the dates of the clay court Grand Slam tournament and those of the U.S. Open do not clash, adding that Flushing Meadows would make an announcement next month. The French Open had originally been due to start on Sunday, but the organisers were forced forced to postpone the start to 20 September one week after  the scheduled final of the U.S. Open, leading to criticism within the tennis world. The Roland Garros main draw was due to get under way on Sunday but has been postponed until September. Forget said he was not resigned to playing the tournament behind closed doors, and hoped to “welcome as many people as possible”. Meanwhile, with professional tennis shut down since early March, world No.1 Novak Djokovic is bringing together some of the world’s top tennis players for a series of matches to run from 13 June to 5 July in the Balkan region. In the women’s game, Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu will be among 16 women’s players to compete in Charleston next month. American Kenin, who won this year’s Australian Open, and Canada’s Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, will take part in the Credit One Bank Invitational, which will be aired on the Tennis Channel and begin on 23 June. It will be held without fans The 16 players will be divided into two teams with Americans Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands serving as captains. The tournament will feature 16 singles matches and eight doubles contests.  The ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this month extended their suspensions of professional tennis until 31 July. The WTA will next month provide an update on events scheduled for the latter half of July.

Golf

Former world No.1 golfer Adam Scott has said he will not be rushing back to compete on the PGA Tour until he is satisfied it will be safe to do so. Australian Scott intends to remain at home in Queensland for at least six weeks after the resumption of PGA Tour action next month, and he will then consider his options if safety precautions are tightened. Scott’s view echoed those of Britain’s Lee Westwood, who said last week that he was reluctant to travel to the United States and ruled himself out of an early return to PGA Tour competition. There has been no play on the circuit since the abandonment of the Players Championship on 12 March. The first four tournaments back are intended to be played behind closed doors. The events will be played in the absence of spectators but will be screened live by NBC in the U.S and on satellite television in the UK. Of the four majors, the 149th British Open Championship, due to take place in July at Royal St George’s in Kent, has been cancelled and 2020’s three other majors, all in the US, have been rescheduled. The Augusta Masters has been put back from April to 12-15 November, while the US PGA Championship is now slated for 6-9 August. The US Open, at Winged Foot, New York, is being moved from June to 17-20 September. The British Open will now be hosted by the same venue in Kent in 2021.In the women’s game, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is hoping to get the 2020 season underway with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational from 15-18 July. The Women’s PGA Championship has been postponed from late June to 8-11October.

Rugby Union

Southern hemisphere rugby body SANZAAR and the northern hemisphere Six Nations have entered a consultation process aimed at creating an aligned global rugby calendar “in total transparency with unions, clubs and players”, a joint statement said last Friday. The hope is to have international windows that are aligned between the northern and southern hemisphere, to lessen the overlap between club and country fixtures and free players from domestic commitments for internationals. Meanwhile, the home countries’ international tour matches in the southern hemisphere have been postponed with World Rugby planning to consult with various stakeholders, including clubs, before rearranging them later in the year. England were due to visit Japan – where Wales were to start at the end of next month – before travelling to New Zealand, Ireland had a series in Australia and Scotland were scheduled to face the World Cup holders, South Africa. Meanwhile, European rugby organisers hope to stage this season’s Champions and Challenge Cup finals on 16 and 17 October – if public health regulations allow. Rugby at all levels in Europe has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Rugby League, the English Rugby Football League and Super League have postponed all fixtures indefinitely pending further review while the game’s premier competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, has also shut down its season with plans to resume this Thursday with matches to be played behind closed doors.

Cycling

Tour de France 2019 winner Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana, Nairo Uran and other Colombian riders’ hopes of returning to Europe to ride the rescheduled Tour de France depend on them securing special dispensation from the Colombian government after the South American country joined its neighbours in grounding all international passenger flights until 31 August due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tour de France is due to start in Nice on August 29, with other WorldTour races returning starting with Strade Bianche in Italy on 1 August. Colombian riders were expected to travel to Europe sometime in July after training at home.  Meanwhile, The Tour of Britain, due to take place between 6-13 September, has been cancelled for 2020. Organisers say the 2021 Tour of Britain will be held between 5-12 September and use the route planned for 2020. The cancellation means Britain will not host any major stage races this year.  It was announced by the UCI earlier this month that the Tour de France will now start on 29 August and end on 20 September, with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana overlapping during October. Cycling’s three Grand Tour races will be part of a packed schedule across just over three months from 1 August.

American sports

The NBA is in talks to resume the basketball season at Florida’s Disney World Resort in late July. The season was paused on 11 March. It is hoped Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex can be a “single site for games, practices and housing”. The league is “engaged in exploratory conversations” with the National Basketball Players Association and the resort, according to NBA spokesperson Mike Bass. Major League Soccer (MLS) Major League Soccer’s plan to restart the season with some sort of tournament by bringing all 26 teams to Orlando, Florida, in early June, allowing them to train for several weeks and then holding a tournament starting around 3 July. Players would effectively be quarantined for about two months.The league play has been suspended since March 12. The NHL have suspended their seasons and Major League Baseball (MLB) has further delayed its 2020 season’s opening day of 26 March with any hope for a season start still weeks away.

Boxing

Kubrat Pulev has said he will not step away from his shot at the world heavyweight belts and warned Briton Anthony Joshua “you either fight or vacate the title”. The Bulgarian is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title but their planned bout on 20 June was postponed because of coronavirus.  It led to talk of Pulev being paid to step aside so Joshua could face fellow Briton Tyson Fury for all four heavyweight belts. The 30-year-old Joshua reclaimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in December.  “I can’t understand why we are still postponing instead of fixing a date and venue and getting to work?” said Pulev. “Enough is enough. I can’t wait to win this fight.” The impact of the virus on the sport has prompted widespread cancellations and postponements. The BBBofC is currently in dialogue with promoters over a July return but strict measures would need to be in place, including a ban on fans.

Horse Racing

Jockeys would have to wear masks if racing resumes behind closed doors on 1 June, according to British Horseracing Authority (BHA) protocols. If a return to action is approved by the government, the first meeting would be held at Newcastle. Social distancing officers will ensure people stay two metres apart and face coverings will be mandatory for those likely to breach restrictions. “The key principle is to act in line with government policy,” the BHA said. Jockeys have worn masks during races in France and Germany, but discussions are still ongoing as to whether this will be the case when British horse racing resumes. Horse racing is due return to Ireland behind closed doors next month with the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas to be staged at the Curragh on 12-13 June. The first Irish race since the coronavirus shutdown of world sport will be on the flat at Punchestown on 8 June 8. The Irish Derby retains its traditional date on 27 June with the Irish Oaks on 18 July. The British Horseracing Authority is proposing a total of 18 meetings in the first eight days after it resumes. An eight-race opening fixture is planned for Newcastle’s all-weather track. Flat racing’s first two Classics, the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, would be held at Newmarket on 6 and 7 June. The United States, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong have continued to stage race meetings behind closed doors in recent weeks.

For full updates on the fate of sporting events go to: 

http://www.bbc.com/sporthttp://www.espn.comhttp://www.lequipe.frhttps://www.insidethegames.biz/http://www.reuters.com/news/sportswww.sports.yahoo.com,www.skysports.comwww.eurosport.frmidilibre.fr