Geman defending champions Bayern Munich need just two wins from their last four games to win an eighth straight Bundesliga title while in Formula One Lewis Hamilton will be back on the track at Silverstone this week as Mercedes gear up for the first race of the delayed 2020 season.
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.
In England, there have been no new positive cases confirmed in the latest round of Premier League coronavirus testing. The Premier League say they tested 1,195 players and club staff for Covid-19 on Thursday 4 June and Friday 5 June. This is the sixth round of testing and the second time there have been zero positives, with just one positive in total in the last three rounds. The news is a boost to the Premier League and their plans for Project Restart, with the action scheduled to resume on 17 June, when Aston Villa play Sheffield United and Manchester City face Arsenals. Since the programme began, the Premier League has now carried out 6,274 tests for Covid-19, with 13 positives and 6,261 negatives. When play was suspended runaway leaders Liverpool were 25 points ahead of defending champions Manchester City with a game in hand. Meanwhile, the FA Cup final will be played on 1 August with the quarter-finals held over the weekend of 27-28 June and the semi-finals earmarked for the weekend of 18-19 July. Sky Sports will make 25 games available ‘free to air’ – including Everton vs Liverpool on the first full weekend. Here’s the full breakdown of the restart : https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11661/11996463/premier-league-restart-fixtures-kick-off-times-tv-schedule-and-dates 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 after the 12 clubs agreed that completing the campaign was unfeasible.
In Germany, defending champions Bayern Munich need just two wins from their last four games to win an eighth straight Bundesliga title after hitting back to beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2. Hansi Flick’s side have lost just once in their past 21 games in all competitions but did it the hard way after trailing at Leverkusen. Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry all netted in the first half following Lucas Alario’s opener. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski headed in his 30th league goal of the season. Second-placed Borussia Dortmund maintained their slim hopes of overhauling Bayern and winning the title by edging a 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin – ex-Liverpool midfielder Emre Can scoring for the hosts.
In Spain, La Liga is back action this week starting with Thursday’s derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, while champions Barcelona play their first game on Saturday away to Real Mallorca, with arch rivals Real Madrid hosting Eibar on Sunday. All matches will be played without spectators for safety reasons, although broadcasters plan to replicate crowd noise for television viewers, which will include a minute of applause for Spain’s more-than 27,000 COVID-19 victims. Organisers want to finish the season on the weekend of 18-19 July depending on the evolution of Codiv-19.. Football was suspended on 12 March with Barcelona two points ahead of Real Madrid.
In Italy, Serie A will return on Saturday 20 June after it was suspended on 9 March with champions Juventus leading the table by a point with 12 rounds of matches remaining. Players returned to individual training before group sessions restarted in late May. The Italian football federation (FIGC) has set a 20 August deadline for finishing the 2019-20 season. The league resumption will be preceded by Italian Cup semi-final and final matches from June 12-17.
In France, the courts rejected appeals by Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse over the decision of the French football league (LFP) to end its season The season was called off by the government with defending champions Paris Saint Germain awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille. Lyon had said they would try to claim damages after being denied a European spot. Amiens and Toulouse were relegated.
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 UEFA 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.
Six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be back on track at Silverstone this week for the first time since February as Mercedes gear up for the start of the delayed Formula One season. Mercedes said on Twitter that Hamilton will be in his title-winning 2018 Mercedes W09 car on Wednesday, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas driving on Tuesday, to practise protocols for the 5 July Austrian opener. Formula One has published an initial calendar with eight races in 10 weeks, taking place without spectators and in carefully controlled conditions. Silverstone, which hosts Hamilton’s home British Grand Prix, is due to stage two back-to-back races in August. Drivers have not raced since December, with the planned season-opener in Australia cancelled in March, and while they have been busy training during the lockdown some are concerned about preparedness. Mercedes returned to work only this week after a long factory shutdown as part of cost-saving measures.
Scott Dixon rocketed to career win number 47 at the Genesys 300 on Saturday as the US IndyCar season got off to a crash-filled start at the Texas Motor Speedway after a nearly three-month delay. It was a full day of motor racing in the United States with both NASCAR and IndyCar staging events. Victory for Dixon, the five-time series champion, leaves him just five back of Mario Andretti in second place on the all-times win list. Meanwhile, the 2020 MotoGP British Grand Prix, due to take place from 28-30 August at Silverstone, has been cancelled Five MotoGP races have now
been cancelled while others have been postponed, with the season currently set to start in Spain on 19 July. The MotoGP, motorcycling’s premier competition, is scheduled to start its season with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. 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.
Three West Indies players have chosen not to travel to England for next month’s Test series because of coronavirus fears. Batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo and all-rounder Keemo Paul opted out of a 25-man touring party. The three-Test series, originally due to begin on 4 June, starts on 8 July at bio secure venues without specators. quarantine and training. The first Test will then begin on 8 July at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, followed by two Tests at Old Trafford, starting on 16 July and 24 July. 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”.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has said that taking part in the US Open would be an impossible task due to the “extreme” COVID-19 protocols in place for the tournament at Flushing Meadows. The tournament is scheduled to begin on 31 August and will be the first Grand Slam to be played after the season was suspended in March. The French Open was postponed to September while the Wimbledon championships was cancelled. The suspension of the tennis season was last extended until the end of July but Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, is not sure the tournament will go ahead. “The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.” Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva TV. Djokovic is the prime mover in an eight-man tournament to tour the Balkans with the first leg due to take place in his hometown of Belgrade on 13 and 14 June. In the women’s game, Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu will be among 16 women’s players to compete in Charleston this 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 ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this month extended their suspensions of professional tennis until 31 July.
Fans will be allowed to attend a PGA Tour event for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic at next month’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio. The PGA Tour resumes on Thursday with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, with the first five events played behind closed doors. The Memorial, founded by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus, takes place from 16-19 July at Muirfield Village. The event said the move was confirmed after it was given “state approval”. The PGA Tour has been suspended since 12 March when all professional golf was stopped because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the European Tour season is set to resume next month with a six-week ‘UK Swing’ tournament and will run to December. The British Masters in Newcastle from 22-25 July is the first of six events, two of which will be at Celtic Manor. The European Tour was suspended on 8 March and the return of tournaments was subject to “stringent safety and testing protocols”. 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.
English Premiership Rugby is planning to resume its 2019-20 campaign on 15 August, the English top-flight competition’s chief executive Darren Childs said last Friday. The British government gave permission for elite sport to return without fans in attendance from 1 June and the Gallagher Premiership, which has nine rounds remaining, is hoping to complete its season. The targeted restart date was agreed at a board meeting. “Nothing will happen until it’s safe to do so but we will do everything we can to resume the 2019-20 Gallagher Premiership Rugby campaign on Saturday August 15,” Childs said in a statement. “We won’t take risks with people’s health and rugby has unique challenges due to levels of proximity and impact. But with a number of clubs moving to Stage 1, it’s important for us to give players, coaches and clubs clarity on when they can look to return.” The restart date increases the likelihood of a fixture logjam. Along with this year’s postponed Six Nations match against Italy and their autumn fixtures, England could play seven matches, while Champions Cup organisers have targeted October for completing this season’s competition. Rugby at all levels in Europe has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Rugby League, England’s Ashes series against Australia, scheduled for October and November, has been cancelled. New England coach Shaun Wane was due to take charge of three Tests against the World Cup holders in Bolton, Leeds and Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in London. 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, resumed its season in late May behind closed doors.
Cycling teams are stepping up their preparations for the return of competition, with Team Ineos and Annemiek van Vleuten putting in hard work. Team Ineos held their second Zwift eRace Classic this weekend with the event seeing their riders compete on a virtual course of the Yorkshire World Championships and was broadcast on Facebook and YouTube. The first race featured Ineos riders Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, and the eventual winner was Rohan Dennis who won in a time of 58 minutes. Four-time Tour de France champion Froome, 2018 winner Thomas and last year’s winner Bernal have all been told they should prepare to lead their team at this year’s race in late August, Sky Sports reported. Leadership issues have once again come to the fore in the team as the three former Tour winners vie for supremacy. The Tour de France is due to start in Nice, with other WorldTour races returning, starting with Strade Bianche in Italy on 1 August. The Tour de France is scjeduled to 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.
World Athletics will launch a new campaign to support those who have discovered the sport in the coronavirus lockdown, during which research indicates that exercise has increased by 88 per cent. The initiative is part of the four-year strategic plan announced last week by track and field’s international governing body and discussed in three online meetings involving the World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe, and representatives of the 214 member federations. Meanwhile athletics premier competition, the Diamond League, plans to hold three meetings in August in Monaco, Gateshead and Stockholm followed by September events in Lausanne, Brussels, Paris, Shanghai and possibly Rome or Naples. Meetings in Eugene, Doha and China have been scheduled for October. Along with the London Diamond League event, Rabat and Zurich have been cancelled. The World Athletics Indoor Championships to be held in Nanjing in March will now be held from 19-21 March, 2021. The British Athletics Championships, due to take place on 20-21 June, have been rescheduled for 8-9 August. The Paris, Barcelona and Boston marathons have all been called off, the US event for the first time in its 124-year history, while the London Marathon has been postponed till 4 October.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday it may be necessary to a stage a “simplified” Olympics next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and that organisers were already discussing possible changes.TKoike’s comments came after the Yomiuri newspaper reported that various options, such as mandatory coronavirus testing and having fewer spectators, were being considered by organisers. John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inspectorate for Tokyo, has said organisers had to plan for what could be a “very different” Olympics if there were no signs of COVID-19 being eradicated. “Holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games calls for sympathy and understanding of Tokyoites and the Japanese people,” Koike told reporters. The coronavirus pandemic forced the rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to July 23 to August 8, 2021. They will be followed by the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.
The NBA Board of Governors voted to restart the regular season for the 22 teams in contention for the playoffs in a near-unanimous vote last Thursday. The rest of the NBA season is set to be played at Florida’s Disney World Resort from 31 July. The season was suspended on 11 March. Thirteen Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams will contest eight games each to determine seedings for the play-offs. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando includes a 5,000-seat indoor basketball facility.Under the NBA’s proposals, all 22 teams will be based at the resort and games will be played without spectators to minimise the threat of Covid-19. Major League Soccer (MLS) plans to restart the season with some sort of tournament after bringing all 26 teams to Orlando, Florida, allowing them to train and then holding a tournament starting around 3 July. The league play has been suspended since 12 March. The NHL have suspended their seasons and Major League Baseball (MLB) team owners have agreed a plan to start playing in empty stadiums in early July.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien claimed the 1,000 Guineas for the fourth time in five years on Sunday as Love won the second British Classic of the year at Newmarket. The 4-1 chance charged through the centre to finish four and a quarter lengths clear of 12-1 shot Cloak of
Spirits. Unbeaten 11-4 favourite Quadrilateral, daughter of the iconic Frankel, finished third. Love, O’Brien’s sole entry, secured the Irishman’s sixth 1,000 Guineas and 36th British Classic. O’Brien took three of the five Classics last year and, after finishing second with Wichita in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas, his filly was in sublime form on another overcast day in Suffolk, where the going was good. Celebrating a fourth 1,000 Guineas, jockey Ryan Moore said: “She’s a very uncomplicated filly and we’ve always thought a lot of her. She was in control of the race from a long way out.” Champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who claimed the 2,000 Guineas on Kameko, rode 4-1 shot Millisle, trained by Jessica Harrington.
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