The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu says the resumption of sporting events in the country is not among the government’s priorities.
France is locked down until May 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and speculation has increased recently as to whether the country’s soccer league could resume in late June.
Maracineanu says “what’s certain is that sports won’t take priority in our society.”
The Tour de France cycling race has been rescheduled to start Aug. 29 and end Sept. 20. The final day coincides with the same day the rescheduled French Open tennis tournament is to begin.
Maracineanu was speaking in an interview with Eurosport television on Wednesday night. She says leagues could potentially start in September or have their remaining games canceled altogether. There are 10 league games left to play in France’s top two soccer leagues. Rugby’s Top 14 league has reached the semifinal stage.
Public gatherings are banned in France until at least mid-July but Maracineanu says they could be extended until “at least September.”
Maracineanu is a former Olympic swimmer. She says “it wouldn’t be the end of the world” if the Tour de France has to be canceled.
UEFA has postponed next year’s women’s European Championship soccer tournament to July 2022.
The UEFA executive committee decided the new dates for the 16-nation tournament in England will be July 6-31.
The switch was made after UEFA and the IOC decided last month on one-year postponements for Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics. Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden will play in the women’s soccer tournament at the Olympics.
Wembley Stadium in London will stage both the men’s and women’s European finals.
UEFA says the rescheduled women’s tournament will retain the same 10 stadiums. It opens with England playing at Old Trafford in Manchester.
A decree issued by the Hungarian government allows most professional sports clubs and soccer teams to cut the salaries of players and other personnel like managers and trainers by up to 70%.
The decree signed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the wage cuts can be implemented for as long as the state of emergency declared because of the coronavirus pandemic remains in effect.
Hungarian lawmakers approved a state of emergency on March 30 without an end-date. That gave the government the right to rule by decree on issues related to the pandemic for as long as it considers it necessary.