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“We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people the end of December through January, February, March,” Fauci said. “By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June. So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable – if a lot of people get vaccinated.” “The conference is committed to transparency and will continue to collaborate with its member institution stakeholders to determine Big Ten Football Championship Game participation requirements as well as tiebreakers,” the league said in a statement. “The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement . “These conversations were productive, and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward. Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. Story, including statement from A-10. March 21, 2021 The Titans finish the preseason on Saturday against the Chicago Bears. The NFL Network reported that the Titans have done “widespread testing” over the week and held meetings virtually on Wednesday. When the Titans’ season was disrupted by an outbreak last year, the team had to close its facility at one point and the team later was fined $350,000 for violations of NFL COVID-19 protocols. Having already barred foreign fans from attending months ago, not allowing even Japanese citizens would be another blow to the Tokyo organizers’ reputation throughout the country — such as it is, given the widespread disapproval for holding the Games during the pandemic. While having zero ticket income would be another multi-billion dollar loss on the organizers’ budget sheet, the IOC will still generate up to $4 billion in income from a television-only event. Australian Open organizers didn’t immediately have details of how many players would have to isolate. Victoria State Premier Daniel Andrews said “at this stage, no impact on the proper.” Depending on test results, the warmup events should resume on Friday and finish on Sunday with players potentially having to play twice in one day to get the event completed on time. Quarantines almost complete, Major League Baseball will start spring training shortly as players and staff throughout every team are returning to some of the same protocols — and some of them tightened — that they lived and played through in an abbreviated 2020 season. In the wake of that news, the Italian Football Federation says up to 1,000 fans will be allowed to travel to London for Sunday’s final under strict conditions , including a five-day quarantine upon return. The visiting fans can only be on British soil for up to 12 hours and will have to stay in a secure bubble by using charter flights and dedicated transport to get to and from the airport and the stadium. NFLPA President JC Tretter of the Cleveland Browns said players were sharper both physically and mentally at season’s end because of the reduced time spent at facilities. Tretter at the end of the regular season called for the end to previously mandatory offseason programs and elimination of preseason games, writing in a blog post “the argument in favor of these offseason practices is based on the assumption that players need reps during OTAs to develop and learn while teams need the practices to gel. Yet, the lack of OTAs this year demonstrated that those theories aren’t substantiated.” While the NHL has released a regular season schedule for the upcoming season and last week announced start times for all the games, the question remains of whether the schedule that was released will be the schedule that is played because of ongoing uncertainty about the league’s participation in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Regardless, there will be NBA action this winter. As first reported by Sportsnet in Canada and further confirmed by ESPN and The Athletic, the NHL will have two outdoor games at in Stateline, Nevada, on the banks of Lake Tahoe. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights will play on February 20, with the next day’s game featuring the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Dallas Owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday as few as five Cowboys have not made a pledge to get vaccinated at present, and a portion of players are “in the pipeline” toward becoming fully vaccinated. To hit the league’s 85 percent threshold and with 90 players on a training camp roster, 77 need to be vaccinated per team for restrictions to be eased. New York as a state will also have a third team playing within its borders for the second year in a row after the Toronto Blue Jays announced that starting June 1, its home location will move to Sahlen Field, home of the organization’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. The Blue Jays had been playing home games up to this point this season at their spring training site in Dunedin, Florida; it played last season’s home games in Buffalo, going 17-9 at Sahlen Field with no fans in attendance. For the five teams in California, the outlook is also brightening. Based on new state guidelines, only one of MLB’s five California teams — the San Francisco Giants — would be able to start the season in front of more than 100 fans if the season started today. But should trends continue for the rest of March, both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels would be able to have fans on hand as well as the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres. The Southeastern Conference will have fall sports — and in sports other than football, they will also have spring competitions to be determined after the NCAA sets up a format for those postseason championships. As of July 1, seven countries have reported a total of 2,472 infections linked to matches, according to the European Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Among the tournament’s host countries, an increase in cases was reported in Russia, Azerbaijan, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The NCAA has made it official, announcing that the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be entirely staged in Indiana with the majority of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. Daly also noted that the league hopes to return to its international schedule as soon as next season, having to forgo any European or Asian games this year. “On international games, I would love to be in position to do it as early as next fall,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be possible. We’ll have to see what conditions are like in European markets, what the travel restrictions may be. There are a lot of relevant considerations. If we’re not able for whatever reason to launch next fall, I certainly hope and expect we’d be able to do the following season.” “Our fans mean everything to us, and we can’t wait to welcome them ‘Back Home Again’ for this year’s Indy 500,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd. The health and safety of everyone coming to IMS, along with Central Indiana and the Hoosier State, have been paramount throughout this process.” And in Minnesota, the 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend has been given the go for June 17–19 after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a loosening of the state’s public health guidelines. The race will also operate at 50 percent capacity and feature a rolling start, social distancing and other PPE requirements. Anyone who quarantined at the Grand Hyatt hotel was deemed to be casual contacts of the infected person are required to remain in their hotels until they test negative and everyone in the city will be required to wear masks while indoors. Having the first post-pandemic Super Bowl in Los Angeles could potentially be a record-breaking event from a commercial and ticketing standpoint. The millions in lost revenue because of the pandemic has resulted in discussion over whether the NFL would return to Tampa  at the next possible open Super Bowl, which would be in 2026. Get ready for the biggest crowd — by far — for any sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than a year ago. What must make all of the attention frustrating on Tokyo organizers is that for a while, things were slowly starting to turn in the right direction in Japan. More than 24,000 socially distanced spectators attended the season finale of Japan’s professional soccer league at the National Stadium, where the Opening Ceremonies are scheduled to take place. Bach’s opening remarks were, “You have managed to make Tokyo the best-ever prepared city for the Olympic Games. This is even more remarkable under the difficult circumstances we all have to face. Our common target is safe and secure games for everybody; for the athletes, for all the delegations, and most importantly also for the Chinese people — Japanese people,” Bach said, catching his mistake quickly. In total, 139 college football games were either postponed or cancelled; 16 of them involved SEC teams, including four out of seven scheduled games on one weekend in November alone. “I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that,” said IOC Athletes Commission Chief Kirsty Coventry , a Olympic swimming champion for Zimbabwe, said on Wednesday. Coventry presented to the IOC’s Executive Board some recommendations such as clarity on potential sanctions of athletes, a change of wording for the Olympic oath that has a message of inclusion and more. Denver’s game at New England,  scheduled for Sunday and then moved to Monday night, will be played next Sunday afternoon. Kansas City’s game at Buffalo has been moved from Thursday night to Sunday, October 19 while the Bills’ game at the Titans scheduled for this coming Tuesday night remains on schedule. “We ended up doubling, and then some, the TV money but could it have been tripled? I think it could have if not for the NFL,” an NHL executive told The Athletic . “It’s just a reality of it, I suppose.” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is trying to encourage the issue among the general public, coming out strongly for vaccination during his State of the League address earlier this month at SEC Media Days. On Tuesday, he posted on Twitter saying “State policies limit the SEC’s ability to establish Conference wide mandates. We need individuals — our fans — to join in accessing the vaccine, reducing COVID-19 spread, limiting the chances for more variants to emerge … and enjoying a full year ahead for college sports!” For some schools, attendance can be in flux each year depending on the home schedule; it was easy for South Carolina to have increased attendance from 2018 to 2019 because it hosted SEC powerhouses Alabama and Florida plus instate rival Clemson. For others, attendance drops before the pandemic have changed how they schedule games in the future; while the Crimson Tide has repeatedly played high-profile season openers in Atlanta, it no longer will do so after 2021 with home-and-home series instead scheduled through 2033 against teams such as Texas, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold during his team’s minicamp said “in terms of my decision to get vaccinated, I’m just going to keep that to myself. For me, it’s a personal decision that I’m going to make between me and people around me.” His teammate, star running back Christian McCaffery , also declined to answer whether he had gotten vaccinated. • Burton Snowboards announced that the company will cancel the 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships , which was scheduled for March 1–6, 2021, at Vail Mountain Resort in Vail, Colorado . The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships is the world’s longest-running snowboard event and Burton has owned and run the event since 1983. Only 35 percent of Alabama’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. Last week’s 14-day average case rate in Tuscaloosa County was up 164 percent, according to the New York Times; students going to Alabama this fall are not required to be vaccinated when classes begin August 18. “I pay attention to it just like everybody else,” Paul said. “Try to control what I can control. Stay in the moment with the Finals, but health is a huge concern not just for my family but for everybody.” “We are excited to welcome Shriners Hospitals for Children into our ESPN Events family,” said Clint Overby , vice president of ESPN Events. “This title sponsorship will provide many opportunities to highlight and support this incredible organization during tournament week both in Charleston and during game telecasts. We look forward to highlighting and supporting their work, as well as welcoming student-athletes, coaches and fans back to Charleston for this wonderful event.” In the NFL and Major League Soccer, pro leagues that have had teams play in front of fans, the biggest crowd has been 21,708 for the Dallas Cowboys’ home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Of the eight NFL teams that have allowed fans into home games so far, only Dallas has had more than 16,000. Of the MLS teams that have allowed fans, none of them have allowed more than 5,000. In college football, only eight of the teams playing this season currently will allow 20,000 or more to attend. For the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, there appears only a focus on making sure the various upcoming trials go off as scheduled. The USOPC plans to send athletes to Japan regardless of what happens with spectators. Another traditional SEC heavyweight clash, LSU at Florida, was postponed on Wednesday and will be scheduled for December 12 instead. Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said the Gators, who paused practices on Tuesday, have 21 positives on the team. Minor League Baseball has announced that it will not have a season in 2020 after Major League Baseball informed the minor leagues that it would not provide its affiliate teams with players for the season—the first time an entire season has been lost since the league was founded in 1901. But for any college basketball team that continues its season, or college sports in general, the biggest fear is for an athlete’s long-term health after they contract COVID-19. Often discussed ahead of college football’s season was the issue of players that would later test positive for myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. That fear has reportedly been realized at the University of Florida and its star player, Keyontae Johnson , w ho according to the Gainesville Sun has been diagnosed with acute myocarditis and will sit out the rest of the season. Johnson collapsed early in a game recently at Florida State and had an extended stay in a Tallahassee hospital; the Associated Press has reported that Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the preseason. The Kentucky Derby, first held in 1875, is the country’s oldest continuously held sporting event. Last year’s race was rescheduled to September because of the pandemic, the first time it was rescheduled since World War II and only the second time ever. This year’s surprise winner was Medina Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert . The Baltimore Ravens announced that if they are permitted under state and local government rules and regulations to have fans attend games in 2020, a significantly reduced seating capacity of fewer than 14,000 per game at M&T Bank Stadium would be necessary based on the social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols. The Canadiens were already missing its coach for the first two games of the series, although Dominique Ducharme will be allowed to return for Game 3 on Friday after serving 14 days of isolation following a positive COVID-19 test. “San Antonio was the perfect region for us to explore because it already has an established and fully operational local organizing committee in place for the 2021 Women’s Final Four,” said Lynn Holzman , vice president of women’s basketball at the NCAA. “We look forward to working with Bexar County, San Antonio and the state of Texas to further determine a path for creating a special championship experience for all 64 participating school while ensuring the safest possible environment for college athletes and officials.” The outbreak news comes as the Toronto Blue Jays were finally given approval from the Canadian government to return to Canada and the Rogers Centre starting July 30 after nearly two years away from home. The Blue Jays played home games during the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, New York, and started this season in Dunedin, Florida, before moving to Buffalo. “We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned this season accordingly,” NBA Spokesman Mike Bass told The New York Times. “There are no plans to pause the season. We will continue to be guided by our medical experts and our health and safety protocols.” USA Cycling has cited the impact of COVID-19 in moving its Elite, Junior, and Para Track National Championships to July 15–21 in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, instead of July 1–7 in Carson, California. “The situation around coronavirus doesn’t go easy on us,” Hashimoto said. “I understand there are a lot of people in Tokyo and in Japan who have concerns about the games in Tokyo this summer. I’d like to share my thoughts and alleviate some of those concerns.” The NHL paused the 2019-20 season March 12 before action resumed August 1 in a bubble format with Eastern Conference games and playoffs being held in Toronto and the Western Conference being held in Edmonton. Both conference finals were held in Edmonton before the Stanley Cup Final, won by the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games over the Dallas Stars. In the 65 days after teams entered Toronto and Edmonton on July 26, there were 33,174 tests administered to team personnel with zero positives for COVID-19.”The key was clearly the collaboration and cooperation we got from everybody, starting with the players and the players’ association, all of our clubs and particularly the owners in the NHL,”  Bettman said. “We all had to work together if we were going to make this a reality, and it’s something that we and the players very much wanted to do. The players wanted to complete the season they started, but most importantly, we heard from our fans that they wanted us to complete the season as well, and that’s what it was all about.” One of the biggest names in women’s basketball, Duke University, announced that it would be ending the season . The Blue Devils started 3-1 but had three postponed games already and had paused the season on December 16 originally for two positive tests within the program and contact tracing protocols. U.S. Soccer’s Open Cup Committee has been forced to cancel the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the first time it has not been held in 106 years. The Open Cup previously faced an interruption during the pandemic of 1918-1920 when the tournament was known as the National Challenge Cup. Division I must determine by Aug. 21 whether its respective fall sports seasons and NCAA championships should occur this year. Among other guidelines, the Board of Governors said the NCAA will establish a phone number and email for college athletes, parents or others to report alleged failures in adhering to medical protocols, and that any athlete who decides to opt out of the season can do so without losing their scholarship. Member schools must also cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses. The NCAA president also noted that the association will focus on the basketball events as a way to gauge other championships success in gender equity as well. The dangers of not being vaccinated and having an outbreak were reinforced during the College World Series when North Carolina State’s season was ended one game from the championship series because of COVID-related issues. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Friday that according to NFL Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills , 65 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot. And while those numbers sound promising especially with plenty of time before training camp for players to get vaccinated, the reluctance of several big names to discuss vaccination has stood out throughout the summer. Policies for fans such as these are happening north of the border as well; Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment said fans will have to provide proof of vaccination of a negative COVID test to attend games. The organization owns owns Scotiabank Arena, the home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA’s Toronto Raptors, and operates BMO Field, the home of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver again discouraged fans from traveling to the game, which is being played without fans, telling ESPN “There will be no NBA functions to participate in. We appreciate their support and hope they’ll watch our All-Star Game on television … this is a television-only event in Atlanta.” “This agreement was a win-win,” the NBRA said in a statement. “It will support the NBA’s objective of creating a safer on-court environment and continuity of play while protecting the health and well-being of the referees.” “They tell you , ‘This is going to take a couple of weeks. Don’t run around and think you’re home safe.’ These are meant to be protection, but nothing in life is 100 percent foolproof,” Auriemma said. “I think if I hadn’t gotten the vaccine and then tested positive, I might be really, really, really sick right now. And I feel really, really good. So, I’m glad I got the vaccine. If there was a third one, I would get the third one. That’s how convinced I am that it’s helping me.” “The final decisions with regards to the number of fans attending matches and the entry requirements to any of the host countries and host stadiums fall under the responsibility of the competent local authorities, and UEFA strictly follows any such measures,” UEFA said in a statement. Meanwhile, no decision has been made on whether Japanese spectators will be allowed. That decision is expected in June, although Hashimoto said it could come as early as late May as Japanese ticketholders need as much advance notice for their own planning purposes. Foreign spectators have already been banned. “That’s what we’ve been waiting for,” Yankees Outfielder Aaron Judge told reporters Friday afternoon. “I think especially since 2020, playing in this stadium with no fans. They played the fake crowd noise, but that doesn’t compare, not even close, to what a packed house at Yankee Stadium any night brings.” World Archery , the sports’ international federation, has rescheduled its 2020 World Archery Field Championships in Yankton, South Dakota , to 2022. The event had been scheduled for September 2020 at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center, which is the largest dedicated archery venue in the world. The venue has previously hosted world youth and indoor championships as well. Officials had considered a one-year postponement but other events in 2021 made the dates difficult. In addition, the 2020 event had been scheduled to serve as a qualifying event for the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, but that event has also been rescheduled for 2022. The reshuffling will result in a new qualifying event for the World Games to be announced later. While the field archery world championship has been moved, the Yankton venue is still scheduled to host the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships. Through the spring training protocols and games in front of restricted number of fans, opening day is still on tap for April 1. Unlike last regular season, which was played without fans in attendance at any ballpark, one team has already announced its plan for the season with the Miami Marlins planning to allow 25 percent of capacity at Marlins Park, approximately 9,300 fans, at home games. It was an announcement that prompted many jokes about the Marlins and whether the team will be able to fill even that capacity, a sure sign that baseball is around the corner. But it is unclear which players will be available for two teams that received at-large bids after they withdrew from their respective conference tournaments because of COVID-19 issues: Kansas of the Big 12 and Virginia of the ACC. Kansas Coach Bill Self said on Sunday that his team was keeping three players behind when it left for Indianapolis but added “the other ones we hope to get there this next week as long as nothing negative happens in the meantime.” Alabama Coach Nick Saban , who missed a game against Auburn last year after testing positive for COVID, said on Wednesday that his team is “close to 90 percent” vaccinated, adding themselves to Georgia, LSU and Arkansas as the four SEC teams publicly saying they are over the threshold. Poloncarz’s announcement, made in March, specified that since Erie County owns the venues that the two teams play at, they would be able to require vaccination. The decision was questioned by Governor Andrew Cuomo , who says the state would have to sign off on any mandate and “I just think it’s early to make a decision months ahead.” Wise said that Indianapolis hosted a volleyball tournament that ended on March 14 and at midnight, the convention center’s team began its buildout for all of the practice courts and other assorted needs for the tournament. By 1:30 p.m. Monday, the setup was ready for use throughout the tournament; after the title game was played on April 4, the NCAA’s move out was on April 7 and the day after that, the convention center started the move-in process of two more events. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14 and plans remain to have the Final Four April 3 and 5, with exact preliminary round dates to be determined. And later this month, the Premier League will have fans at every one of its games for the final two rounds of matches after getting government approval, even moving around the end-of-season schedule to ensure that each team has one match with fans present. The New York Times reported before last month’s French Open that only about 20 percent of female pros had been vaccinated, largely because they are not eligible in their countries or are hesitant to get a shot. The vaccination rate on the men’s tour is also low, for similar reasons. “It is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Further, it’s a tremendous opportunity to wrap up the season with three-straight iconic venues for what we believe will be our most exciting season yet. As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule. We are committed to an action-packed and exhilarating 2021 NTT IndyCar Series.” “That’s why more than anything, I and everybody else in the NCAA have been so disappointed in the shortcomings that have been starkly abundant and recognized here in San Antonio,” he said. “When you lay the men’s and women’s championships side by side, as has been made clear over the past weeks, it is pretty self-evident that we dropped the ball in supporting our women’s athletes.” The Trail Blazers are scheduled to open the preseason against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Portland’s announcement follows the decision of the Golden State Warriors to delay its training camp start because of two positives within the roster. That announcement was made last week as the NBA and NBPA released the first set of test results for the preseason, acknowledging that 8.8 percent of players tested positive for the coronavirus between November 24–30. The Toronto Raptors also will be pausing its preseason plans after three players tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. Toshiro Muto , the CEO of the organizing committee, also said Tuesday that foreign media entering Japan could be monitored by GPS to make sure they follow the rules that will be spelled out in the third edition of Tokyo 2020’s Playbooks due later this month. He did not clarify if the tracking would apply to IOC officials, officials of national Olympic committees and sports federations, and broadcasters among others. “Oh man, talk about just pure joy, running out of that tunnel,” Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the game. “We’ve had a few hundred for a couple games, but it felt like 50,000 when we ran out of the tunnel. It really did. It was such a special moment. I forgot how much you truly, truly miss having a crowd there and obviously that wasn’t a normal like last year against Seattle type of crowd. But it felt like 50, 60,000. It really did.” When the PGA Tour returned to competition in June 2020, it mandated that players, caddies and PGA Tour staff be tested each week. The tour announced in April it would end testing for those fully vaccinated but continue the program through September for those who had not been vaccinated. The new edict goes into effect the week of July 20. The NCAA Division II and Division III fall championships have been canceled and the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs were also canceled after leagues comprising of more than half of the level’s programs announced it would not play in the fall; a spring FCS season has not yet been publicly ruled out. UNITE HERE Local 2 claims at least 20 concessions workers have contracted COVID-19 this season and that 96.7 percent of active stadium workers voted to strike. While the vote was announced on Saturday, a strike could happen at any time, the union said. The workers are employed by Bon Appetit, a company that is contracted by the Giants. One player who early in the season showed the potential to be an All-Star was Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. But after missing five games due to a positive COVID-19 test in January, Tatum admitted to reporters on Tuesday that he still is not fully recovered . To verify COVID-19 vaccination, fans age 12 and older will be required to display one of the following before entry into the stadium: But as the virtual meetings start, tensions between the NFL and the players union about how the rest of the offseason will be conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic have been played out in public. In addition to men’s and women’s lacrosse, the spring cancellations also apply to baseball, softball, men’s and women’s outdoor track, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis. Whether the Ivy League’s decision has broader ramifications on the spring college season is to be seen. When the league canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March 2020, the initial reaction was disbelief and shock — but within days not only did every other conference tournament follow suit, but the NCAA Tournament was also canceled and professional sports went on a sustained pause. Silver said it’s not a prerequisite that players get vaccinated, but he has said he believes it will make their lives simpler and he plans to get vaccinated himself once he is eligible. Under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, players are subject to quarantine periods if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. The NBA has had to postpone 31 games because of league health and safety protocols. The only mandatory activities this offseason would be June minicamps before the official start of training camp. The NFL last week issued a memo announcing the first four weeks of the voluntary program will be virtual before transitioning to in person. Coates reiterated those comments during a press conference on Friday morning, saying the Games will go on regardless of the local health authorities’ recommendations. A win in the game, if it had been played as scheduled, would tie UConn Coach Geno Auriemma with the late Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt with 1,098 career victories. The Huskies have already had to postpone an earlier non-conference matchup against No. 2 Louisville; UConn itself had to delay its season because of COVID protocols. The Big Ten’s decision comes after the ACC announced the delay of its fall sports events until September 1 at the earliest and one day after the Ivy League announced all fall sports would be canceled. “The fall sports impacted by the Council’s decision include men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country and sports that conduct non-traditional season segments in the fall,” MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said. “It is the goal of the MAAC to ensure it recognizes a MAAC champion in each sport and it will review possible championship formats for the fall sports in accordance with evolving state and local regulations.” Details on the Paralympic Games, which begin in 64 days, will be made by July 16. “The hardest part is probably what they’re going through right now,” said Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly , whose team had 17 players on the injured list because of the coronavirus during last year’s 2020 shortened season and was idle for more than a week early in the season before making the playoffs. “They still probably have some unknown: Is it going to keep going on? … You don’t know when you’re going to play. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re in quarantine. You can’t do anything,” If BYU does reach the Sweet 16 in the East region, those games would be moved to Saturday and Monday for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight while the Midwest region’s Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games would move to Sunday and Tuesday. That potentially would give the East teams four days of rest between the second round and Sweet 16 while the Midwest teams would have six days of rest. The opener will feature South Carolina and Stanford, a matchup of transcendent coaches whose teams have dominated their respective regions. The nightcap is the biggest name in women’s basketball, Connecticut and star freshman Paige Bueckers, facing the new faces of Arizona, making the Final Four for the first time. So Florida coach Dan Mullen ’s comments after his team’s loss this past Saturday at Texas A&M drew a mixture of shock and horror, saying — based off permission given by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to sports venues — he wanted to pack The Swamp to capacity on October 19 when the Gators host defending national champion LSU. Countermeasures undertaken during the test events included testing upon arrival at the airports, daily testing throughout their stay in Japan, activity restrictions limited to movement between host hotels, venues and practice venues, and prevention of close contact through social distancing. While vaccinations for players cannot be mandatory because of the CBA, the league has done all but require coaches and staffers from the 32 teams to get vaccinated. Those who are classified as Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees of teams must be vaccinated or they cannot interact with players. Pelissero reported in early June that assistant coaches from at least four teams at that point had refused to get vaccinated; the NFL allows unvaccinated individuals to maintain Tier 1 or Tier 2 status if they provide a valid medical or religious reason. Randy Mobley , president of the Triple-A International League that began in 1884, said it will be the first summer in the league’s history that games will not be played. “While we continue to pray for the health and wellbeing of those within our communities, our focus immediately turns to planning and preparing to welcome fans and sponsors back into our fabulous ballparks next April,” he said. “During what will now become an extended off-season from Triple-A Baseball, I encourage fans to stay in tune with activities planned by their local team. Teams in Minor League Baseball are known for their creativity and that is now and will continue to be demonstrated in ways never before explored. From drive-in fireworks shows to family movie nights on the giant videoboards to experiencing “dinner on the diamond,” teams will be finding creative ways to stay engaged with their community.” What the Big Ten is deliberating with changing its rules for the conference title game on the fly has already been done and dusted in the ACC, which changed up multiple games before last weekend to ensure that its top two teams, Clemson and Notre Dame, have off weeks before meeting on December 19 in the league’s championship game. The Tigers and Irish are in the top four of the CFP standings, making its rematch of a classic overtime game earlier this season won by Notre Dame a highly anticipated one. It also will match up two of the five ACC teams that will fall short of playing 10 games this season, which the league set as the schedule for each team with one non-conference game allowed to maintain rivalries as much as possible. But Clemson played The Citadel instead of South Carolina and Notre Dame played South Florida instead of USC after the SEC and Pac-12, respectively, implemented policies of no non-conference games. “We stand ready to assist if organizers need assistance in this respect,” Dubi said. “A number of National Olympic Committees and institutions have offered assistance.” The Colts have had multiple players go on and off the list throughout training camp and while the team’s general manager refused to say what the active roster’s vaccination rate is, he made it clear those who are unvaccinated are a source of frustration. “The March Madness logo can, and if the women’s committee and the women’s community wants it used, there’s no reason why they can’t use it similarly,” Emmert said. “’Final Four’ is used by both, and whether or not one wants to use the logo with a gender identifier is up to the committee and they can certainly do whatever they’d like to do with those things.” • The World Baseball Classic, scheduled for 2021 at sites throughout the world including Los Angeles, San Diego and Miami, will be postponed until 2023 according to multiple reports. The tournament was scheduled to start in late February and conclude in March at Marlins Park in Florida. The qualifying rounds, scheduled for spring 2020 in Arizona, have already been postponed. The NHL’s bubble has had zero positives out of more than 30,000 COVID-19 tests between action in Toronto and Edmonton. Given the restriction on cross-border travel, there also may be the potential for a one-season realignment that would include an all-Canadian division. A third English team in the Champions League, Chelsea, will play Atletico Madrid next week in Bucharest, Romania. The three English teams may still have the second-leg games played at home but that may be adjusted if health authorities in Germany and Spain insist teams then quarantine upon their return, which would force them to postpone league games. That will continue to start the 2021 season, a situation that is not ideal for any team or league — and it leads again to a team from Toronto in part setting up a temporary home base in Tampa, Florida. Will that remain the case this fall when fans are given the first chance to attend games in more than a year? Or will the pre-pandemic trends continue in the new normal? That will be one of the more intriguing parts of sports events going forward, especially with college football looming in the fall. “Decisions are easy when you have certainty and you know this is going to happen, that is going to happen,” Goodell said during his state of the league address. “What was difficult during this season was trying to manage things where there was a lot of uncertainty.” The National Women’s Hockey League will play the 2021 season and Isobel Cup Playoffs at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York, from January 23 through February 5 in partnership with the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren wrote an open letter to the conference community that the league posted on Twitter in an attempt to give more detail into the league’s decision to cancel fall sports last week, a decision that coaches and parents of football players throughout the conference have questioned. The NBA’s COVID-19 protocols do not distinguish between players who have antibodies after having COVID-19 themselves and those who do not. Family members and close contacts are allowed to be regularly tested and once an individual tests positive, the player enters contact tracing/quarantine protocols. The league, according to ESPN , also is requiring players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games. Players on active rosters will also be required to wear face coverings in the bench areas until they are on the court and all players and coaches must wear coverings when outside the team environment if they are around other players and coaches. “Out of an abundance of caution and to allow for additional testing and contact tracing to be performed within the New York Mets’ organization, the games between the Mets and New York Yankees at Citi Field on Saturday, August 22nd and Sunday, August 23rd have been postponed,” MLB said in a statement. Typically, this weekend is the start of a series of festivities and parties in the Super Bowl’s host city, but this year will be different. While there will be plenty of fan activations still in place in Tampa Bay, which will have its hometown Buccaneers in the game, the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs will not arrive in town until the day before the game, treating the biggest game of the season like every other game of the season. The NFL has also been spending the past week-plus working to take down many of the Buccaneer banners around Raymond James Stadium and putting up NFL or Super Bowl ones to give the appearance of a neutral site, even if it clearly will not be. The Seahawks will begin enforcing the policy starting with the team’s home opener on September 19 against the Tennessee Titans. Fans and staff will be required to wear masks at all times except while actively eating or drinking, regardless of vaccination status. The Pac-12 Conference has announced more details about its fall plans for football teams to play conference-only games. As part of the season that will begin September 26 for member schools, the Pac-12 Football Championship Game will be played December 18 or 19 with a home-hosted model. Dr. Shigeru Omi , a top government medical adviser, has said the least risky Olympics would be with no spectators. He also said it was “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic. Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and 20 total games against the five clubs in the corresponding regional division in the other league, according to The Associated Press. This will be MLB’s shortest season since 1878 . No decision has been made on whether fans can attend games. Such a decision would have a massive change for college basketball, which less than a week into its season has seen games cancelled by the dozens and matchups sometimes made as little as 24 hours in advance. The NCAA’s previous guidelines for the sport included not only COVID-19 testing three times per week for players, coaches and officials in the sport, but a 14-day shutdown of any program that has a positive test within its Tier 1 group of players and coaches. While neither Kilgore nor Robinson is a household name, the NFL is also not celebrating just yet: “This season is not over,” Miller said. “We have one really big game we’re looking forward to on Sunday but our work isn’t finished.” To that point, ESPN radio asked NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith if the union would agree to move the Super Bowl if a star such as Mahomes or Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady tested positive before the game. “Visit Baltimore stands behind the event team and its partners’ decision to postpone the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic,” said Al Hutchinson , president and chief executive officer of . “We remain excited to bring the race to Baltimore and look forward to our continued partnership in 2022.” The WTA Tour also announced that due to COVID-19 concerns and travel restrictions in China and Japan, tournaments traditionally scheduled in Chinese Mainland and Japan will not operate this year — except for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, which is still under discussion. The WTA also added the Chicago Women’s Open, a new event in the city, for the week of August 23. The Ivy League will not sponsor league-wide competition or sponsor championships in the spring for its athletic teams, citing “rigorous limitations” on its members campuses due to the coronavirus and meaning that no athletic contests will be held during the 2020–2021 academic year. Hashimoto added on Friday that the number of “stakeholders” coming to Japan from abroad had been reduced to about 80,000, with a majority of those — 59,000 — being ‘stakeholders’ along with 23,000 from the Olympic family and international federations. An added 17,000 would involve television rights holders and 6,000 other media workers. And as we said at the beginning, you cannot discount what has happened on the court. Two double-digit seeds pulled off upsets in the first round; Fifth-seeded Iowa in the River Walk region’s second round beat No. 4 Kentucky as freshman Caitlin Clark outscored the Wildcats herself in the first half 24-22 on the way to a total of 35 points in an 86-72 win. The NCAA Men’s Tournament got underway on Thursday night with the First Four games, three of the four being close games and the high-profile game between UCLA and Michigan State ending with the Bruins rallying from an 11-point halftime deficit to win in overtime. It was fun for fans, cathartic given a year ago the tournament’s cancellation was another reminder of the growing pandemic that was sweeping the country and it was the perfect kickoff for the next four days of action that starts early in the day and goes into the night. “These adjustments reflect the public health situation at this time and the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different geographic areas of the state,” the UIL said in its announcement. For teams that have allowed fans this year, attendance figures have seen mixed results. Track laps continue until 5:00 PM CT! ???? #RaceToEndCOVID | @HHSGov | @CDCFound | @AlabamaNG May 15, 2021 The Heat will keep attendance under 2,000 for now, or less than 10% of the arena’s typical capacity. Fans arriving for the game will be brought to a screening area and the detection dogs will walk past. If the dog keeps going, the fan is cleared; if the dog sits, that’s a sign it detects the virus and the fan will be denied entry. If a fan is allergic to or afraid of dogs, the Heat are offering an option to skip the dog screening and submit to a rapid antigen test instead. The Heat say those tests can be processed in less than 45 minutes. The NFL has a long history of playing games internationally, with preseason games in London as far back as the 1980s plus multiple preseason games in Canada in the 1960s and even a game on Tokyo in 1976. The first regular-season NFL game was in 2007 at Wembley Stadium in London and since then, the English capital has hosted 27 games, by far the most of any international destination. Six games have been in Toronto, each featuring the Buffalo Bills, along with four games in Mexico City. The NBA’s 2021–2022 season will look more normal than in the past two years after the league released its calendar for the upcoming season. The NBA knew when it started the 2020–2021 season that it would have complications because of COVID-19. No longer secure in a bubble environment, the league readily admitted that there would be doubts over games being postponed and players being ruled out because of the coronavirus. The Australian Open has gone off without any players having to forfeit matches because of a positive COVID-19 test. There have been several players in the men’s draw that have dealt with injuries and Djokovic suggested the two weeks of quarantine players had to go through before the tournament may be connected. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses announced the decision due to COVID-19 restrictions set forth by the state of California, Los Angeles County and the city of Pasadena. The Tournament of Roses requested special permission to allow for a limited number of spectators or a select number of student-athlete and coach guests but the request was denied. • The Atlanta , the world’s largest 10K with 60,000 participants, is moving to Thanksgiving from its traditional Fourth of July date because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta Track Club says the November 26 date will minimize the impact on retailers in downtown Atlanta because most businesses will be closed for the holiday. Tokyo reported 896 new cases on Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. It’s the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set seven days prior. New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13. Only 15% of the Japanese public is fully vaccinated. “Bon Appétit Management Company and Local 2 are currently engaged in collective bargaining negotiations,” the Giants told ABC7 News . “We encourage both sides to work productively to reach an agreement as soon as possible. The Giants make the health and safety of everyone working and visiting Oracle Park a top priority. We operate our venue in compliance with local and state health requirements.” Playing in the spring was a decision forced by the COVID-19 pandemic but the question going forward is should a spring season be responded to favorably by fan bases and any television ratings, would the FCS contemplate switching to spring football permanently? The flip side of that, of course, is that small-college NFL draft prospects would have their stock drop significantly with the draft being held in April. There are also financial ramifications of such a move because many FCS teams can get big paydays from guarantee games at Football Bowl Subdivision powerhouses that those FCS programs then use to subsidize many of their athletic operations. • USA Wrestling has formed four special committees to help its members and athletes deal with specific issues in the sport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That national governing body’s committees will include experienced professionals in a range of industries who will volunteer their time. “USA Wrestling is tremendously grateful and blessed that these talented leaders are willing to step up for wrestling at this time,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender . “All have a passion for the sport and a commitment to help guide our organization in its decision-making process. With this assistance, our sport will have the best possible direction to help us get through the current situation and emerge successfully, with a clear vision for the future.” The Legacy Triathlon will return to Long Beach in 2021. The event is designed to be an annual competition to draw on interest from the upcoming 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. The event, first held in 2019, is held at Alamitos Beach, which is expected to host triathlon events at the Games. Washington manager Dave Martinez said 11 of the 12 combined positives come from people who have been vaccinated but none have major symptoms. The pauses in team activities are required through the NCAA’s recommended 14-day quarantine for teams after a player, coach or staffer tests positive. The NCAA’s guidelines can also be superseded by local and state regulations; while the NCAA recommends three tests per week for players and staff in college basketball, ESPN reported that Temple must test athletes seven consecutive days prior to competition under local rules in Philadelphia. The Masters , one of the most venerable sporting events in the world that is traditionally held in early April but this year will take place in November, will do so without fans, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley announced. “We’re comfortable that local regulations are going to allow us to have fans at all 32 stadiums,” Goodell said Saturday on the NFL Networks’ Inside Training Camp Live . “We’ll still be smart. We’re still going to be willing to adapt. We’re still going to do everything to make sure our fans are safe when they’re there. But we expect full stadiums.” NFL officials expect up to 50,000 fans to attend, with most events taking place outside. There will be a vaccinated fan zone which is limited to up to 5,000 fans. Protocols involve the new normal of mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitizing. Nonetheless, Tokyo 2020 is continuing with scheduled test events in preparation. From May 1–6, FINA conducted a test event in diving that organizers said was successful. The event, attended by 224 athletes from 46 nations, was conducted under strict COVID-19 countermeasures. Among the 438 total participants, including athletes, coaches and team officials, only one COVID-19 positive case was found. The team official who tested positive was quarantined and no close contacts were identified by Japanese authorities. The Big 12 is the same as the SEC in that a team must have 53 active players for a game to be played, including walk-on players. This is third time a game involving Baylor has been affected, including a September 12 season opener against Louisiana Tech and a September 19 game against Houston. And there could be even more money coming soon for the NFL; the rights to the popular Sunday Ticket subscription service where fans can watch out-of-market games expires in 2022. DirecTV, which has the contract, is widely expected to let the deal lapse and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro admitted Thursday the network has “had exploratory conversations with the league” with an eye toward adding the package to ESPN Plus. Whether that means fans from the United States who had bought tickets for the Games well in advance will be able to use them is an issue that organizers will have to address. But the USOPC seems focused right now on making sure that its delegation is able to compete without any outbreaks of the coronavirus. Krzyzewski said his decision was made because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases throughout the country and in North Carolina, not because of his team’s 2-2 start — even though Alabama Coach Nate Oats did not resist the chance to take a jab at his counterpart, saying “Do you think if Coach K hadn’t lost his two nonconference games at home that he would still be saying that?” the day after Duke’s announcement. And as spring turns into summer and protocols continue to be relaxed throughout the country, you will continue to see bigger attendance numbers. Indianapolis Motor Speedway has already said it will have over 130,000 in attendance on Memorial Day Weekend for the Indianapolis 500. And Atlanta’s sports teams, the Braves and Atlanta United of MLS, have said they will be allowing 100 percent capacity in the coming weeks. Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said his team, which pulled out of the ACC Tournament on Friday with a positive COVID-19 test, will not travel to Indianapolis until this coming Friday at the earlier because most of the program is in quarantine until Thursday after the positive was revealed. NFL team owners are expected to approve the additional game in late March with the likely scenario including the elimination of one preseason game. Depending on the calendar, the date for Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, California, may be pushed back to February 13 from February 6. The NBA, which had seen the number of positives in recent rounds of player testing drop significantly, also had to postpone several games over the weekend after a number of San Antonio Spurs players tested positive. The Spurs’ next three games through Monday have been canceled after four positive tests; the team has been quarantining in Charlotte since Sunday after beating the Hornets last Saturday. The Raiders will offer vaccinations at Allegiant Stadium on game days so fans can attend, although they will have to wear a mask once inside since they will not be fully vaccinated. Vaccinated fans will not need to wear masks at games; children between the ages of 2 and 11, since they are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, can attend games as long as they wear a mask. “But I certainly understand, collectively, you’re dealing with a pretty healthy group of young people,” he said, “and when you’re looking across our country, there are people more deserving of that opportunity than this group. But clearly if you were vaccinated, it would ease up a lot of the protocols we have in a sense of where you can go and where you can’t.” On his end, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was just as angry with the report — saying it was not true … emphatically. The enhanced protocols were announced on Tuesday — one day before the league announced that in the most recent round of COVID-19 testing, 16 players had tested positive in an eight-day span. After entering last weekend with only one postponed game, there have been four consecutive days with at least one game affected. Wednesday had three postponements on the schedule: Utah at Washington, Orlando at Boston and Atlanta at Phoenix. “There’s just a lot of things that have to change,” Barnes said. “But it takes people like me that were pro players being a voice for things to change. There’s a lot of voices out there. People care now. The fact that the NCAA responded so fast, I think that’s good. That’s meaningful.” But there have also been plenty of setbacks. Earlier this month, 65 wrestlers were forced to withdraw from a national sumo tournament after contracting the virus or being a close contact with someone who had. Japan’s 22-member badminton team withdrew from the Thailand Open and the opening of Japan’s Top League rugby matches was put on hold after 67 players and staff tested positive according to the Washington Post . No fans have been at any collegiate or professional sporting events in the state of California this fall. When NBC has broadcast two Sunday Night Football games involving the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the broadcasters were required to wear masks on-air. When one Cal football player tested positive for COVID-19 during preparations for the Bears’ season opener against Washington scheduled for November 5, the game was canceled because several players were required to isolate in accordance with local health guidelines on contact tracing. “Despite this unforeseen challenge, our iconic motorsports event has proven its ability to adapt and endure, and it will continue to do so this summer, next year, and in preparation for the 100th Running in 2022,” said Board Chairman Tom Osborne . Major League Soccer announced an updated format and schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament after Nashville SC was withdrawn from the competition. Since arriving in Orlando, nine players on Nashville have had confirmed positive test results for COVID-19. “I really think it’s just a ploy by McVay to allow himself the opportunity to take his shirt off again and jump in the pool like he did on ‘Hard Knocks,’ probably sip a little rosé, dip in the ocean and make some draft picks,” Kingsbury said during a video conference last week . Monday’s Game Chicago at L.A. Rams: No fans will be in the stadium “I’m not going to generalize them all, but I think some of the symptoms have been more like a general cold,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think our guys have done a great job. … As soon as someone feels something, we’ve been getting tested, so I feel our process is in order.” “This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . “The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.” The NCAA intends to furlough all employees at its Indianapolis headquarters for a minimum of three weeks, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press . The win puts the Bulldogs, already ranked No. 5 at the start of the season, on track to go even higher in the rankings after one week and ahead of the team’s home opener against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. But with Georgia ready to host a sold-out crowd at Sanford Stadium, the team itself will be less than full capacity. The American Hockey League, the level below the NHL, will have its 2021 season’s “anticipated start date” of February 5, pushed back from the original plan to have a 2020–2021 season that began on December 4. Regardless of when it starts, the AHL will also have to deal with the regulations that would come with cross-border travel into Canada with the league having four of its 31 teams north of the border. The ban covers Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures — Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. A smattering of events in outlying areas such as baseball in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima will allow a limited number of fans. Montreal — which rebranded in the offseason to CF Montreal — will play its home base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the home of Inter Miami CF Stadium. Montreal’s uncertainty already led to staff changes with head coach Thierry Henry leaving after one season, citing family issues. ESPN first reported the league’s decision , which was set to be the primetime game on Thanksgiving Night before being moved to Sunday afternoon, then Tuesday night and now Wednesday. The decision comes after the Ravens had a player test positive for the ninth consecutive day, making it 22 players altogether either to test positive or be identified by the NFL as a close contact. Teams were scheduled to face each other once then be seeded based on standings and play a two-game, round-robin tournament. The four best teams would advance to the semifinals on NBCSN, followed by the championship game the next day. The NWHL has not disclosed how many players had tested positive or when the positive results came back. And that is why, after nearly a century of tradition, there is a movement to play the men’s World Cup every other year instead of every four years — with the women’s World Cup in years there is not a men’s tournament. The New York Yankees were not able to have fans last season like every other team in Major League Baseball, but it is expecting to host 10 percent capacity fans on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium . As well as state requirements that all fans show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours, as well as mandatory temperature checks, the venue itself spent last summer earning a WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management . The rating incorporates guidance developed by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, global disease control and prevention centers and emergency management agencies. Twenty days after the season has tipped off, some of those contingencies may have to be dealt with. The idea of having the league go back into a bubble environment has been universally negative among players who missed their families last summer. And with teams less than a dozen games into the season, the idea that each of them will be able to fulfill itst 72-game seasons is rapidly fading. Dr. Shigeru Omi’s recommendation is not what organizers and the International Olympic Committee would have wanted to hear — in all honesty — with the Olympics opening on July 23. While foreign fans have already been banned months ago, the indication this week from Japanese media was that organizers would allow up to 10,000 fans at some of the venues once the local state of emergency was officially lifted on Sunday. Florida, meanwhile, will spend at least part of its training camp in a hotel as coach Dan Mullen searches for ways to avoid another outbreak within the program. Last year the Gators had two games rescheduled after Mullen, at least two assistants and approximately 30 players tested positive following a game at Texas A&M. The Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers reported Wednesday since they play the Hall of Fame Game on August 5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can report as early as Saturday due to them playing in the regular-season opener on September 9 against Dallas. Teams are already releasing plans for fan events and league-wide practices later this month to build anticipation for the regular season, for which every team has been given approval to have their stadiums open 100 percent. Martin Slumbers , chief executive of tournament organizers R&A, said that while a player could be disqualified for breaking protocols, “I think players know the risks. They know what will impact. They’re all responsible. They don’t want to put their fellow players at risk. I’d like to treat them as professionals in that regard.” This year to start, the Blue Jays will host fans in a 24 percent capacity at Sahlen Field but, like the Yankees and Mets, the team would be able to get to full capacity if all attendees are vaccinated. The Blue Jays and Bisons are undertaking a jointly funded renovation project with upgrades that will be completed before June 1 including, among other things, adding a new weight room and renovating clubhouse facilities along with resodding the outfield grass, completing a full field replacement that began with the infield in 2020. One of the marquee early-season games for the National Football League scheduled for this weekend, the New England Patriots against the Kansas City Chiefs, has been postponed from Sunday afternoon after one player apiece on both teams have tested positive for COVID-19. “I would like to salute the work of our university presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, coaches, medical advisors and administrators who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively during these extraordinary times,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “We believe this change provides the best opportunity going forward.  However, we will undoubtedly need to be flexible as we progress through the season in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead.” Travel and border restrictions are expected to prevent as many as half of the athlete field from being able to attend the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Ironman 70.3 World Championship presented by Utah Sports Commission in St. George, Utah, meaning the event will shift to a one-day event on September 18 for both men and women. One of the most iconic rivalries in sports, let alone college football, has been cancelled because of COVID-19. The National Football League is only a few months away from kicking off its 2021 season with the promise of sold-out stadiums and a return to normalcy after a 2020 season that was anything but — and the attendance figures will be, in the league’s mind, thanks to the emphasis of vaccinations with all of its stadiums serving as centers for people to get their shots. • Eugene , Oregon on October 4 at the renovated Hayward Field at the University of Oregon . The track will host a series of showcase events over the next few years including the rescheduled 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in June 2021 and the World Athletics Championships in July 2022. Eugene was scheduled to host the 2022 Diamond League championship but as part of the rearranged schedule, it will host the championship in 2023 instead. Having the race in March in Melbourne would involve a period of mandatory isolation. The ATP and WTA Tour will have all of the participating players for the Australian Open spend 14 days in quarantine before the event starts on February 8. underwent a historic contraction and realignment during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of affiliated farm teams cut to 120 from 160 after the end of the Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which governed the minors. Asked this month whether he has been vaccinated for COVID-19, Newton said “I think it’s too personal for each and every person to kind of discuss it, and I’ll just keep it at that.” “We are all grateful to be here and it took a lot of effort for them to put this all together,” UConn All-American Paige Bueckers said on an AP Twitter chat Thursday night . “It’s more of a principle thing. It’s not just a weight room that’s a problem. It’s the inequality of the weight rooms that’s the problem. There’s another tweet going around with the swag bag. It’s not just the weight room. It’s the inequalities and the better stuff the men get.” Browning is the only Vikings QB that is currently vaccinated. Zimmer said the team may have one QB quarantine away from the team all season so that if there is another breakout within the position, at least one would be clear to play. If the team does not do that, it — like any other team — would run the risk of playing the game short-handed or maybe even have to forfeit the game per the NFL’s rules this season. Fortunately, the company already has pandemic experience having hosted fans at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game . In Indianapolis, the company plans to invoke many of the measures it undertook in Miami as far as COVID-19 preparation. The games will mark the third basketball championship at Lucas Oil Stadium, but the first, of course, during a pandemic. “I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that, so thank you for that,” Mickelson said at the trophy ceremony. “Slightly unnerving, but exceptionally awesome.” “But do we want to return to some semblance of normalcy? Yes, we do,” he said said. “Do we think that it could be done safely? Yeah, I think health professionals that are advising us believe that it could be done safely. Whether or not the circumstances will worsen is yet to be seen.” As for this weekend’s games, the Detroit Lions are one team that will host people in the stands for the first time this season although it will be limited to 500 family members and friends of players. Of the 13 games including the Thursday night game between Atlanta and Carolina, five of them will not have crowds on hand — one of them being the Monday Night showcase game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the New York Giants, who placed one of its starting offensive lineman on the reserve/COVID list on Thursday after a positive test that led to eight players and two coaches being told to stay away from the team’s facility. All of the Giants’ starting lineman were told to stay away but could be cleared to return as soon as Friday, akin to what the Raiders dealt with for their offensive line after a positive test last week during preparations for its game which was also against the Buccaneers. And given the scale of what the Olympics means in the sporting world, plenty of headlines were generated by Sir Keith Mills , deputy chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, telling BBC Radio 5 that it “looks unlikely” in his view that the event would be held. “If I was sitting in the shoes of the organizing committee in Tokyo,” he added, “I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation.” Individuals seated in the vaccinated sections will have to show proof of full COVID-19 immunization status, which can be provided through paper form, digital application or New York State’s Excelsior Pass. But after Cuomo released guidelines for the playoffs, Knicks Owner James Dolan said he hopes for at least 13,000 fans at the Garden for his team’s first-round series against the Hawks starting with Games 1 and 2, the first time the Knicks have had a playoff game at home since the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals. “While we are disappointed that we will not be able to award the Calder Cup this spring, we are grateful to have been able to provide a safe and competitive environment for more than 1,000 players to play AHL hockey and continue their development,” said Howson. “We’re especially thankful for the work done by our athletic trainers, COVID-19 officers and other front-line workers to ensure the health and safety of all of our players and staff throughout the league.” , which had to cancel its Isobel Cup Playoffs in the spring, will start the upcoming season in January 2021 with a full 20-game schedule for each team and playoffs completed by the end of March. The league says it will aim to have its All-Star Game after the playoffs are completed. The announcements by the MAAC and Marist came soon after the NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee’s announcement that it will be giving a blanket waiver to fall sports that reduces the legislated minimum number of contests by 50 percent. The waiver is available for men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s water polo and women’s volleyball teams. Source to @CBSSports : VCU had its first positive surface on Wednesday, then two more positives surfaced Friday night, which prompted Marion County health officials and the NCAA to decide allowing VCU to move forward and play its game vs. Oregon was too risky.— Matt Norlander March 20, 2021 In the Zags’ cases, the shutdown led to the postponement of Saturday’s spotlight game against No. 2 Baylor scheduled for Indianapolis and will also affect games scheduled against Tarleton, Southern, Northern Arizona and Idaho. ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi released a statement that said : “The nature of our Tour is truly global — a move away from that structure would present significant challenges compared to many other sports or leagues. We’ll continue to evaluate all viable options to keep the Tour operating and ensure the best possible conditions for players amid today’s challenging circumstances.” Statement from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott on positive developments from governors of California and Oregon: September 16, 2020 Of the SEC’s remaining games, Arkansas will face Florida without its head coach Sam Pittman , who has tested positive for COVID-19 and Mississippi is scheduled to play South Carolina, although Rebels coach Lane Kiffin , when asked if the team had enough healthy players for the weekend, said “I haven’t looked at numbers that way. I want to play. I think it’s more if you don’t want to play that you look at the numbers. We’re excited to play.” In a survey this summer, rodeo fans said they wanted an NFR venue that would accommodate fans and the PRCA began looking for an alternate venue, leading to a partnership between the PRCA and Globe Life Field, the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth, the , , and the Sports Commissions of both Arlington and Fort Worth . Players on Team LeBron James and Team Kevin Durant will compete for $1.75 million spread between the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and UNCF . Each organization will receive $500,000 at tipoff and at the end of each quarter, an additional $150,000 will be awarded to the leading team’s selected organization. A further $300,000 will be awarded to the winning team’s selected organization. Teams in the East, Central and West will play each other eight times. Teams in the North will play each other nine or 10 times. The league will go back to a 16-team playoffs. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs and the four teams that advance to the semifinals will be seeded by their point totals, leaving open the possibility of two teams in the traditional West or East Conferences facing each other for the Stanley Cup. “The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.” “There’s no question the staging for the Western & Southern Open and the U.S. Open will take on new dimensions without fans on-site,” said Stacey Allaster , U.S. Open tournament director. “Together with ESPN and our international broadcasters, millions of fans in more than 200 countries will have the opportunity to be inspired by what I believe are the most amazing athletes to compete in sport at the highest of levels. As we progress, 26 days to go, everything is based on this comprehensive plan to mitigate risk for all.” All of the site shifting, while necessary to keep the competition on schedule, was not universally endorsed. MLB is doing well, beyond having rising attendance this season with fans getting vaccinations. The league announced last week that more than 81 percent of players and team personnel have received at least one vaccine shot and that nine teams have reached the 85 percent threshold — notably the Yankees and Detroit Tigers — that allows them to have some of the league’s health and safety protocols waived. The league applies the 85 percent threshold to Tier 1 personnel, defined as players as well as managers, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, medical staff and some front-office personnel. While teams have to have seven consecutive negative tests for each travel party member before coming to Indianapolis and daily testing as long as they are in the tournament, there was one clarification by NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt about a team’s ability to practice once in town. Those two tests must be separated by at least 12 hours and therefore can occur on the same day, which is how Rick Pitino’s Iona team was able to practice on Monday . The Rams flew home Saturday night, with those who tested positive traveling separately. VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin said the team found out only a few hours before the scheduled tipoff that the game was off. “What we would like is for the Lightning to take it a little bit easy, to give the Canadiens just the smallest break, allow them to win one at home, and then bring it back to the Amalie Arena for the final and the winning of the Stanley Cup,” she said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. But they are playing some amazing, amazing hockey.” The owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets previously announced plans to require proof of full vaccination for fans ahead of this season. The only Canadian teams that have not announced similar plans as of yet are the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. In a week that has seen 83 percent of polled Japanese citizens oppose the Olympic Summer Games and the 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association call for the Games to be canceled, one of the International Olympic Committee’s most senior members sent the clearest possible message on Thursday: The Games will go on, no matter what. The Associated Press reported on Thursday , that there were seven teams at or over the 85 percent mark and that four of the teams are Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver. It also said that Washington, Indianapolis, Arizona and the Los Angeles Chargers are the only four teams under 50 percent. The AP also reported that the NFL doesn’t plan to cancel any games this season. Colorado, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference which will have eight teams advance to the playoffs, has less than a month to play 10 matches to finish its 23-game regular-season schedule by MLS Decision Day on November 8. Its next scheduled game is Saturday at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The chairman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors gave Emmert a vote of confidence over the weekend , saying it was satisfied with how he has addressed inequities between the tournaments. Emmert’s contract runs through October 2023 and has an option for 2024. “We cannot think it’s rational to host the Olympics in the city this summer,” the newspaper wrote. “Distrust and backlash against the reckless national government, Tokyo government and stakeholders in the Olympics are nothing but escalating. We demand Prime Minister Suga to calmly evaluate the circumstances and decide the cancellation of the summer event.” Entry into the race will be done with health screenings and temperature checks upon entry as well as required facial coverings once inside the massive Daytona International Speedway facility. Even with 30,000 spectators, that is only 30 percent of Daytona’s capacity. Rain is in the forecast for the weekend, though. Update regarding 2021 Division I women’s basketball tournament: November 16, 2020 A new play-in tournament for the playoffs that would involve teams sitting seventh through 10th in each conference’s standings starting May 18 and the playoffs starting May 22. The NBA Finals would conclude no later than July 22, one day before the Opening Ceremony for the rescheduled 2021 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.— Darren Dreger April 4, 2021 The editorial comes as the IOC has been tasked with defending its plans on a near daily basis as opposition grows in its host country, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise. A recent online petition calling for the cancellation of the event has now been signed by nearly 400,000 Japanese citizens. The NFL will also on Week 1 spotlight new stadiums that last year were open but without fans in attendance; the Sunday night opener is the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Chicago Bears and the Monday night game will be the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium — where tickets for the opener are already going for more than $1,600 apiece on resale sites. The league will also hook fans with Week 1 matchups such as Sam Darnold’s first game with the Carolina Panthers being against his former team, the Jets, while the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers playing at the New Orleans Saints, who will have a new quarterback after Drew Brees’ retirement. The conference’s board of directors voted to make the change because of “continued serious challenges to health and safety on Big West campuses and communities impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic.” The move includes the postponement of men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball; “a decision on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring will be determined by the Board of Directors at a later date and be based on conditions and circumstances that are in the best interests of the student-athletes,” the Big West added. Believing in the ability of players and coaches to police themselves has been the policy as the season has gone on but there are infectious disease experts who say a bubble would be the best way to finish the season. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Saturday between No. 1 Alabama and No. 14 Miami, as well as the Labor Day game between Louisville and Mississippi, will take place under an open roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which means officials will not require masks in the seating bowl, concourses and suites with doors to the open air. Teams will have two open weeks during the season with the ACC title game played on either December 12 or December 19 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The exact weekly schedule will be released in the future. Also of note is that the league will have all TV revenue for the season — including Notre Dame’s NBC home game broadcasts — shared equally among the 15 programs. Sunday’s Games Pittsburgh at Dallas: Approximately 25,000 fans allowed Houston at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans allowed Carolina at Kansas City: Up to 16,045 fans allowed New Orleans at Tampa Bay: Up to 16,000 fans allowed Baltimore at Indianapolis: Up to 12,500 fans allowed Chicago at Tennessee: Up to 8,643 fans allowed Miami at Arizona: Up to 4,200 fans allowed N.Y. Giants at Washington: A limited number of season-ticket holders will be allowed Denver at Atlanta: A limited number of fans will be allowed Detroit at Minnesota: No fans allowed Seattle at Buffalo: No fans allowed Las Vegas at L.A. Chargers: No fans allowed “The NCAA and the committee regret that NC State’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to continue in the championship in which they earned the right to participate,” the statement read. “Because of privacy issues, we cannot provide further details.” The U.S. will have its own training site in Japan to isolate its athletes, a measure typically taken at past Games but that officials said was even more important this time around given the conditions. Still, Lyons said the USOPC has been tracking information in Japan and feels its delegation can travel safely to compete. Shortly after the Big Ten’s decision, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields started a petition to reverse the decision. Parents of players from schools including Ohio State and Iowa have written letters asking for more details into the decision-making process while Penn State coach James Franklin on Wednesday morning said “I have an issue with the process and I’ve got an issue with the timing. It was challenging to keep getting up in front of my team and getting up in front of my parents and not having answers to their questions.” Bill Manning , president for Toronto FC, which has played its games this season in Orlando, Florida, told reporters over the weekend that the team planned to travel to Toronto on Thursday and he is “optimistic” that the team could play its first home game in more than a year on July 17 pending a response from the federal government. SportsNet also reported the Blue Jays are awaiting a response on its proposal that would bring them back to Rogers Centre for a homestand beginning July 30. There is plenty of good happening off the court in San Antonio; the Alamodome is not only home for two courts of games, it remains a vaccination center for local residents during the NCAA Tournament, providing at least 5,000 doses daily. “The NCAA has been very gracious and very helpful in making sure the city can continue everything,” San Antonio Sports Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jenny Carnes said this week . Chile became the latest team in the Copa America to find itself in trouble over COVID-19 after at least two players, according to Chilean press reports, allowed a hairdresser into their secure training camp. A revised schedule for the 2020 SEC football season will be announced at a later date. The league’s other fall sports were earlier postponed through at least August 31 and start dates and schedules for those teams will also be announced at a later date. NASCAR, which hosted its Cup Series racing in front of restricted numbers of fans last summer before nearly every other pro sports organization  during the COVID-19 pandemic, will have at least two events already on its summer schedule racing in front of a full house. But no matter what some fan bases may have felt about scheduling decisions, the games got played. USA Triathlon has canceled the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, scheduled for August 8–9 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin , have been canceled due to current local government guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation was required after the City of Milwaukee informed USA Triathlon that it is unable to guarantee a permit for the event weekend due to ongoing state and local restrictions on gatherings. “These are high-performing athletes and it is hard to keep a high-performing athlete in a room,” Tiley said. “This is the contribution that they have to make in order to get the privilege of when they do come out to compete for in prize money.” COVID-19 cases in Tokyo have hit a two-month high that almost guarantees the Japanese government will declare a new state of emergency to start next week and continue for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics. A new state of emergency could lead to a ban even on local fans. That decision on fans is expected Friday when local organizers meet with the IOC and others. IOC President Thomas Bach is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Thursday. Darlington was the first track to host NASCAR racing last May with two races in a three-day period after missing more than two months due to COVID-19. The September 6 race will be the first of NASCAR’s 10-event playoffs and mark Darlington’s first season with three Cup Series races. And why, after the game was over, was Turner allowed back onto the field to celebrate with his teammates and even sit in the front row of a team photo with no mask on? And if the players were told, why did they continue to celebrate with their families on the field with many of them not wearing masks? “The numbers are up in our society, so I think we understand what we need to do,” McCarthy said, “and I think we’re more rehearsed in the protocols and the adjustments, like we make an adjustment today with the team, it was pretty seamless.” “We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.” The Houston as a result of the coronavirus. Action was scheduled to start May 26 before the event was originally postponed. The UCI also has postponed the Junior Track Cycling World Championship in Cairo until 2021. As it stands, the CFP would start on New Year’s Day with the semifinals at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans, before the January 11 title game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The CFP Management Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and according to the San Jose Mercury News , one item put on the agenda is the entire schedule being delayed. “This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” said IOC President Thomas Bach . “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible. By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities.” The NFL’s interest in Germany is not new: It had five preseason games in Germany between 1990 and 1994 and during the halcyon days of NFL Europe, teams in Germany had the best fan following. And with the expanded 17-game regular season schedule, the NFL’s owners recently passed a resolution stating from 2022 onwards that all 32 clubs will play internationally at least once every eight years. “Between the players’ union and MLB, the agreement I think is pretty rock-solid when it comes to player safety, staff safety,” Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito said Tuesday . “There’s going to be a few things that are a little more, what’s the word for it, given more importance. I think some of the workouts are going to be in smaller groups, a lot more on point with mask wearing and things like that. I don’t think it will affect our work too much. We’ll certainly be able to get done what we need to get done.” Dubi said it’s still early to tell whether spectators will be permitted and that a decision is several weeks away at a minimum. Among the factors that will go into that decision will be the COVID situation on the ground in Tokyo in the weeks to come. “At no way do we want the Games to take precedence ,” he said. “How do we use the resources available to make it safe for the Japanese people and those visiting. That’s really important to strike that balance.” “From the outset, we have taken the virus seriously, very seriously,” Cass said. “… Despite our best efforts, the protocol is only as effective as our weakest link. With a dangerous virus like this, everyone must comply with the protocol to avoid infecting many. We now know that not everyone at the Ravens followed the protocol thoroughly,” referring to ESPN’s report that a strength coach was not always wearing a mask at the team facility. “The board of governors also established if you don’t have half of the schools playing a sport, you can’t have a legitimate championship,” Emmert said in a video posted on the NCAA’s Twitter feed. “We can’t in any Division I NCAA championship sport now — which is everything other than FBS football that goes on in the fall. Sadly, tragically, that’s going to be the case this fall, full stop.” The PCC has provided the USOPC with $75,000, which will cover testing for 250 athletes. The PCC funds more than 70% of the world’s anti-doping research. The Holiday Bowl has hosted a Pac-12 team every year since 1998; this year, a Pac-12 team would have faced off against an ACC team for the first time. The other obstacle for the Holiday Bowl was where in San Diego it would have been played since SDCCU Stadium has been closed; the San Diego State football team will be playing the next two seasons at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, while a new on-campus stadium is built. The PBA, which existed since 1901, was allowed to expire at the end of 2020 as MLB took over running the minors with a clear focus on trimming expenses. Many small cities throughout the United States reacted with fury at the changes, understandable given the losses they felt with teams that had been community strongholds being ripped away. But MLB continued undeterred. The New York-Penn League, which started in 1939, was eliminated and the Pioneer League became an independent partner league. The Appalachian League was converted to a college summer league as well. “It seemed like forever,” said Brandon Ramsey , who went to a Cincinnati Reds-Cleveland Indians game at a different site in Goodyear, Arizona, on Sunday . “Last year got cut a little short. To come out here for opening day is just fantastic. They did a great job in socially distancing. They made sure we were safe.” It was the first time that fans were allowed at baseball games since March 12 — aside from the World Series and National League Championship Series held last year at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas. Fans in the outfield berns beyond the fences in Arizona are to stay in spray-painted squares while those in the stands are spread out in small pods of two, four or six people. Masks are worn except when eating and drinking. There was one notable difference in the atmosphere, though; the Packers’ victory was the first time this season that the team allowed fans into the historic stadium. After allowing the families of team employees to attend the final three games of the regular season, about 6,000 season-ticket holders along with employees’ families and invited front-line healthcare workers brought the total attendance to 8,456. And if it was, it was because of protocols that were strict at the start of the season and then intensified in mid-November with teams not allowed to have in-person meetings, wearing masks on the sidelines and several other stringent measures. When the governing body announced last week that it would stage the U.S. Open without spectators, it had decided to eliminate several other disciplines normally staged during the competition. The move drew criticism from the International Paralympic Committee, among others, who said they weren’t consulted beforehand on the decision. The move to reinstate the competition was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week. The rescheduled age group draft-legal event will be held April 9, 2021. Plans call for the 2021 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships to be staged with the event as well. In a statement, the league said, “With the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and the impact on the industry, this year’s NASCAR Champion’s Week and NASCAR Cup Series Awards originally scheduled to take place in Nashville will not occur. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champions will be celebrated at the end of the season with more details to come. We look forward to returning to Nashville in 2021.” College football has had issues with COVID-19 delaying and cancelling games all season long, but Saturday was particularly strong with at least 10 games either postponed or called ‘no contest,’ including two games as part of the Pac-12’s debut weekend. If Johnson had gotten on the plane, all of the players would have been disqualified as close contacts. Johnson, the 2015 Open champion, was tested following the final round of the John Deere Classic on Sunday, as were others scheduled to make the trip. The Canadiens became the first team in Canada to have fans at an NHL game in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, won by Montreal in seven games after rallying from a 3-1 deficit. The 2,500 were the first to be in attendance in 444 days at the Bell Centre, taking over for the singing of the national anthem. One of the biggest gatherings of sports fans in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began will be this weekend at Daytona Beach, Florida as the Daytona 500 will kick off the 2021 NASCAR Cup season with approximately 30,000 fans in attendance. The Cowboys have had nine players on the COVID-19 list so far since the start of training camp compared to last season when six players combined to miss seven games. Martin is the only Cowboys starter that will miss Thursday’s game. The Stanley Cup playoffs would be scheduled to end by mid-July in time for the Summer Olympic Games, and give the NHL the chance to reset its traditional calendar and have an October start and full 2021–22 season. The NFL Network reported last Friday that player vaccination rates are up to 89 percent with at least one shot and 22 of the league’s 32 clubs reaching 90 percent partially vaccinated. Along with health and safety protocols that will be updated throughout the season depending on conditions throughout the country, Goodell — while not being able to mandate players be fully vaccinated — has done whatever he can to make it near-mandatory, notably saying that teams will forfeit games this year if they have an outbreak among unvaccinated players and cannot suit up the minimum number of players. “You can only imagine how he feels sitting at home watching us right now at this point of the season,” Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “We feel for him and we’re going to work to get the win for him.” With the season going back to its regularly scheduled 162 games, some of the unique twists from last season have been extinguished. There will be no universal designated hitter; while last year’s postseason was expanded to 16 teams, this year will go back to how it has been in previous years with 10 teams, five in each league, advancing to the postseason. There are no plans — for now, at least — for the playoffs to be held at neutral sites unlike in 2020 when the division series, league championship series and World Series were played at neutral sites. U.S. Soccer has decided to forgo playing matches for the men’s national team during the FIFA window in October. The men’s national team last played on February 1 in Carson, California, in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica. The Jazz are the only team in the Western Conference that will have more than half of its capacity filled for the playoffs; the Dallas Mavericks are at 47 percent at American Airlines Center while the Denver Nuggets are at 40 percent at Ball Arena. But five of the 10 teams in the West who qualified for the postseason are at 20 percent capacity or less. The league previously announced that fans in markets where attendance will be allowed must wear masks in the stadium. The New York Jets and Giants have announced that it will not have fans, while the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers announced that it would have a restricted number of fans in attendance — if they are able to have fans at all. Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis already has said he does not expect fans to be in attendance when his team opens Allegiant Stadium. But instead, weeks before the tournament is scheduled to start, there is widespread frustration from players at the protocols now that they are having to be put in place. One of the league’s most ambitious projects, the ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports Bubble, was able to finish an abbreviated finish to the regular season as well as the full playoffs without a single positive test of COVID-19, the same achievement as the National Hockey League for the two most high-profile sports to have suspended their seasons in March. “Our players have enjoyed the energy provided by the limited fans we’ve had over the past four games,” Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our season ticket holders to add to that atmosphere in the playoffs. We’ve seen our COVID-19 protocols in action and are confident we can safely add additional fans.” The number of stadiums that will be at 100 percent capacity by July 4 is close to 20, with several going to full capacity much sooner. The event will be at an ASM Global-managed arena with mobile ticketing instead of printed tickets, contactless concessions with prepackaged food, temperature testing and CDC screenings and COVID-19 testing for all staff and athletes. Since the pandemic began, PBR has hosted more than 131,000 fans at events. South Dakota is one of 16 states without a statewide mask mandate. There are a total of 36 scheduled games involving Big Ten schools that will be affected overall and six teams — Ball State, Bowling Green, BYU, Central Michigan, Connecticut and Northern Illinois — were scheduled to play two games this season against Big Ten teams. According to USA Today, Big Ten non-conference opponents stood to earn a total of $22.2 million in payouts. The league said that will allow optional on-ice practices and off-ice training for teams starting the week of September 21, with formal practices starting the week of October 19 while following protocols established by infectious disease experts, the NWHL medical team and community officials in each market. The moves to tighten up team protocols comes as three teams have rolled back their fan attendance policies. The Washington Football Team, which allowed fans for the first time on November 8 in a loss to the New York Giants, will again have empty stands going forward after discussions with health officials in Prince George’s County, Virginia. The nearby Baltimore Ravens, which had 4,345 on hand for a November 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, will also close M&T Bank Stadium for Sunday’s home game against the Tennessee Titans. One of the first areas in the sports world to return from COVID-19 was European soccer, where leagues resumed before any U.S. professional league under strict protocols that were then copied by many American leagues wanting to avoid a bubble environment and play in home markets. The Cincinnati Reds, home for the traditional Opening Day festivities for Major League Baseball for decades, will host ‘Re-Opening Day’ on Wednesday when the home team hosts the Philadelphia Phillies on the first day that full capacity will be allowed at Great American Ball Park. It adds up to this: There were 42 bowls scheduled before the season’s opening kickoff and instead, 28 were scheduled to be held. But as COVID-19 surges throughout the country, it has been no surprise that the postseason has been as unorganized as the regular season. There are, of course, financial implications to any decision a conference would make. Most have television contract commitments to honor by playing a conference tournament, especially on the heels of most of them being canceled last year as the pandemic started to spread throughout the United States. Some coaches have floated the idea of using the time to make up lost regular-season games — No. 2 Baylor has six games postponed, for example — although how that would work out with from a scheduling standpoint is unclear. Among the finalized dates for the Cup Series are a doubleheader on June 27–28 at Pocono Speedway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania; July 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was part of an IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader race weekend; July 12 at Kentucky Speedway; the NASCAR All-Star Open non-points race on July 15 at Charlotte Motor Speedway; July 19 at Texas Motor Speedway and July 23 at Kansas Speedway before an August 2 race at New Hampshire Speedway. The new consequences are an effort by the IOC and International Paralympic Committee to ensure that the measures outlined in the playbooks will be followed — which has been a point of concern in Japan, where COVID rates in recent months had gone up before a recent downturn. The plan requires attendees needing to register a negative COVID-19 test before being granted entrance. The team will work with the state’s Department of Health to conduct contact tracing afterward. Dr. Howard Zucker , the Commissioner of Health for New York, called it “a public health model that’s never been done anywhere in the country before.” “Based on how we manage things internally in the building, I can’t see any issues with coaches and the players,” Saban said. “But that’s up to .” The relaunched XFL last year had to suspend operations in the middle of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then disbanded before it would be able to return, citing financial losses that were unsustainable and joining the previous XFL incarnation as well as the USFL and WFL, among others. But now, the XFL — under new ownership by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his business partner and chairwoman Dany Garcia — is exploring a collaboration with the Canadian Football League. Among those testing positive, according to ASU, was Head Coach Herm Edwards . “In the past few days our test results included a number of positive cases, including multiple student-athletes and coaching staff members, one of which is Head Coach Herm Edwards,” ASU athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “This put our team below the Pac-12’s minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes under the league’s game cancellation policy.” • USA Taekwondo has canceled its 2020 National Championship, which had been scheduled for San Antonio, Texas . The event at the Alamodome, which was scheduled for July 1–7 , would have marked the first time in five years the tournament was held in Texas. It was expected to attract more than 4,000 athletes. In the hopes of still crowning national championships, the national governing body announced plans for “The USA Taekwondo 2020 National Championship Series,” which will consist of three qualifying events nationwide with a chance to compete in a to-be-determined national championships final. The NGB said it would work with cities and venues to host the events in September and October, with a championship final tentatively planned for November. Given the protocols and seeing already how a positive test can rule a player out of a game this season, players around the league have been open about the idea of acting like last year’s protocols are still in place when it comes to not going outside a team’s training facility or their family home much, if at all. And with fans on hand this year in greater numbers than at any point in the pandemic, the theme of personal responsibility was emphasized over Labor Day weekend by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady — who admitted that he contracted COVID shortly after Tampa Bay’s win in the Super Bowl and subsequent boat parade. A schedule that for some conferences was already condensed into conference-only matchups is further deteriorating after a series of outbreaks at some of college football’s biggest programs. “The Olympic organizing committee is very much interested in finding out more from this example,” Hashimoto said on Friday. “We will pay detailed attention to get information as much as possible,” with operations adjusted as needed, adding “we cannot say everything is 100 percent. We will make a bubble as close to 100 percent as possible.” And why would he want to drive a higher price? Because while 32 teams mean a lower share of nationally-generate revenue than 30 teams, driving the highest price possible would mean a quick cash infusion to the league’s bottom line ahead of future TV rights contracts that have to be negotiated — and having teams potentially in Seattle and Las Vegas, to name two cities, could potentially drive a higher total value. No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Notre Dame will both play their 11 th game of the season on Saturday in the ACC title game while Alabama, No. 1 in the CFP, has played 10 games heading into its title game against No. 6 Florida on Saturday in front of a restricted number of fans in Atlanta. There were even fans in selected stadiums across Germany and France for the past few months, though nowhere near capacity. In England, some lower-level soccer leagues were able to have fans in attendance and plans were underway for the return of fans in some stadiums throughout the Premier League. The torch relay, which began on March 25 in Fukushima, has been detoured several times this month and is be banned this weekend on the Okinawa island of Miyakojima, which only has one hospital. The relay is a caravan of more than a dozen cars and other vehicles festooned with advertising from major sponsors like Coca-Cola and Toyota. Northwestern’s scheduled game against the University of Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in Chicago , scheduled for November 7, will not be played at the home of the Chicago Cubs after consultation with the Cubs, state and local authorities, the Big Ten Conference and in consideration of challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2010, Northwestern and the Cubs brought college football to Wrigley Field for the first time since 1938 with a game against Illinois. Those who are vaccinated will not have to undergo regular testing unless they exhibit symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. Unvaccinated individuals could be tested as many as three times per week and are expected to wear a mask and practice physical distancing while vaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks indoors and during team travel. “Major League Baseball wants to play a role in expanding widespread adoption of the vaccines which have proven to be safe and effective,” said Dr. Gary Green , medical director of MLB. “As more people get vaccinated, the rate of infection decreases and more areas of society can safely reopen. We are proud of the efforts MLB Clubs are taking to help in this effort.” The team said in a statement that ticketed parties will be asked to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet, tickets will be arranged in blocks of 10 seats or less, and the first eight rows of stadium seats will not be used. Face coverings will be required at all times inside the stadium. Patriots Putnam Club and Season Ticket Members will have the first opportunity to purchase individual game tickets if fans are allowed, and any remaining inventory will go on sale to the general public once the member process is complete. • Chicago on September 3–9 will remain. Executive Director Matt Farrell said the decision was made with athlete safety in mind, as well as the safety of families, staff, fans, vendors, suppliers, venues and partners. Neither team has a bye remaining on the season, so getting the game in by Tuesday night is imperative for the league to keep its schedule on track. The Ravens were already scheduled to play on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys, a game already moved to Monday night. “It’s an unfortunate situation and I feel for our guys, especially our seniors,” Notre Dame Coach Jeff Jackson said. “The team was excited about returning to the NCAA tournament and ready to continue competing after earning the opportunity. But with the multiple positives and subsequent contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and the others in the tournament we could not proceed.” The decision was made in the interest of the health of players and staff participating and in line with protocols created in conjunction with local and national health authorities and infectious disease experts. Of the 557 players in Orlando, 13 players have been confirmed positive for COVID-19, 10 of those being FC Dallas players and the remaining three from two other clubs. Players in the majors and the PGA Tour, meanwhile, will not be required to get COVID-19 vaccines, the PGA Tour said in a memo obtained by ESPN , but those who do not get vaccinated will have to continue to undergo weekly tests at their own expense before playing in an event. The decision to move the Davis Cup Finals to the week of November 22, 2021—still in Madrid—came after months of review and were attributable to regulatory challenges that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. The finals mark the pinnacle of the largest men’s international team competition in tennis. The event had been scheduled to see the world’s best 18 national teams competing for the Davis Cup title over one week in Madrid in November 2020. For the Big Sky, the move postpones all competition for fall sports to spring 2021. This decision affects men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball, which all stage championships, as well as the non-championship sports of men’s and women’s golf, softball, and men’s and women’s tennis. The conference had previously moved the football season to the spring. The Induction Ceremony has been held on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center since 1992, with estimated crowds approaching and surpassing 50,000 at five of the last six ceremonies from 2014–2019. Last year’s cancellation marked the first time the Hall of Fame did not hold an ceremony since 1960. “It’s aggravating,” Harman said. “I’m vaccinated. I got vaccinated as quick as I could, so it’s been really nice to not have to test and not have to worry about it.” Memphis and the Washington Wizards both have had six games postponed this season, tops in the NBA, which has had 20 of its teams see at least one game postponed. The league has only released the first half of its 72-game schedule and planned to have a week’s break between the first and second halves; whether that it able to happen or if it is used to make up all of the games that have been postponed has not yet been determined. The Bulls-Grizzlies postponement is the 21st game the league has postponed, all but one of which have come in the last two weeks. Oregon State begins its home schedule at Reser Stadium on September 11 against Hawaii — whose fans, regardless of vaccination status, will not be able to attend home games. The Rainbow Warriors said that at minimum, the team’s home opener September 4 against Portland State will be held without fans after instructions from city and county officials because of the recent rise in cases and overwhelmed hospital capacities on the islands. “Japanese fans are going to be in attendance, the arenas are going to be half full, but I will not have access to my daughter?” Gaucher asked. “We’ve tried appeals. Everyone says they’re on board, but nobody can do anything. Let’s see if we can make a difference. It’s 2021. Let’s make working moms normal.” Omi said that putting fans in the venues increased the risk — and not only there but afterward as people exit. He said the Olympics easily get more attention from the public than other sporting events and are likely to trigger more movements and more partying. Sunday’s game between Philadelphia and Boston, scheduled originally for 11 a.m. local time, was pushed back to 4:30 p.m. and was able to be held without interruption after a slight delay because of mechanical issues with a Zamboni before the Bruins won in a 7-2 rout. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the conditions on Saturday included clouds and that the league had been confident that any sunshine would not be for long periods of time that would affect the ice. “The business model as far as minor league hockey is concerned relies heavily on ticket sales, and if we had reduced capacity and then every away trip required a flight, it just wouldn’t have been feasible,” said Maine Mariners Vice President for Business Operations Adam Goldberg . Beyond vaccinations, fan attendance and when the season starts for MLS is where three of its teams will play; because of cross-border travel restrictions between the United States and Canada, the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps were forced to play “home” games in the United States for the final part of the 2020 season. Garber said MLS is “really close to being able to announce where our Canadian teams will play.” The National Football League has been able to handle organizing this season so far during the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, there have been postponed games and rapid rescheduling of multiple games. But to that point, there have not been any games canceled. Two of the teams mentioned in the memo have already released strict health and safety protocols for fans this season. The Warriors said fans 12 and older must show proof of vaccination for games this season at the Chase Center in San Francisco and the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, will require employees and fans age 12 and up to be vaccinated. The Associated Press reported that mask compliance was strong before the game but dropped to about 50 percent by the game’s middle innings. Ushers and security personnel were not seen stopping fans walking without masks and some lines were shoulder-to-shoulder in bottlenecks. And because in this virus-affected season there are no ideas that can’t be tried to get attention for your team or conference, especially with no fans in the stands for the Pac-12, the league will start its season at 9 a.m. PT with Arizona State visiting USC, one of the Pac-12’s highest-profile teams. The early kickoff is an attempt to try and get more fans watching games on the East Coast and part of the league scheduling the opening weekend in such a way that a fan at home could conceivably watch up to 14 consecutive hours of Pac-12 action. The CONCACAF Champions League , the biggest international club soccer competition in North America, will resume in December at a site to be determined in the United States. As soon as the college basketball season’s start date was officially set, the question would be what would happen to the number of early-season tournaments. “As we look forward to the safe return of students, faculty, and staff at Maryland, getting vaccinated is a critical step in a return to normalcy here on campus,” said Athletic Director Damon Evans . The morality of requiring vaccination to attend sports events can be debated but legally, according to Elise Bloom , partner, class and collective actions, Proskauer Rose LLP, “the short answer is that under current federal law, yes, you can do that.” Bloom was speaking at a recent Leaders Week virtual event. The Anaheim Ducks added four players on the list this week, joining two players from the Montreal Canadiens and several others from the Boston Bruins. There have been 41 games postponed overall in the shortened 56-game campaign that started January 13 with 157 players who have spent at least one day in COVID-19 protocols this season. Calgary is the only team to not have a player listed so far this season. Some teams have had multiple games canceled; St. Bonaventure was scheduled to play four games at Bubbleville before a positive test caused a program shutdown, then its rescheduled opener on Saturday afternoon was canceled less than 90 minutes before tipoff because of a positive test on its opponent’s team. The international racing series said the decision was “due to the fluid nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, local restrictions and the importance of keeping communities and our colleagues safe.” The decision was made after ongoing discussions and close collaboration with partners in the affected countries. While teams were able to survive virtually during game preparations, it is unanimous that the atmospheres on Sunday without capacity crowds were a downer. But NFL teams are now growing in optimism about capacity crowds because of the expected rate of vaccination through the summer. While the NFL hosted more than 1 million fans last season, one of its biggest markets — New York City — did not have fans at Jets or Giants games in 2020. But it should be able to in the fall with at least 12,000 fans after a recent announcement by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and both the Giants and Jets said “as the months go on, we are hopeful that the data will continue to be positive and the number of people allowed into MetLife Stadium will steadily increase.” Among the big moves for the 2021–22 season is the return of the much-discussed Play-In Tournament, which will follow the same format as this past season. The teams that finish the regular season with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will compete to fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference — while Lakers superstar LeBron James was critical of the idea, the TV ratings for the games were solid. • USA BMX will relaunch its National Championship Series with the inaugural Nabholz Bounce Back Nationals in Pryor, Oklahoma, at Mayes County BMX on June 5–7. USA BMX has worked with local and state officials to ensure the event can be hosted while addressing concerns of social distancing, sanitation, customer interaction and other event specific modifications. The Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences in August were the two Power 5 leagues that struck out on their own, announcing a postponement for football with the indication at the time that a spring season would be scheduled. Both conferences in their respective return to fall season have cited the availability of rapid daily testing to member schools. The protocol list has been in single digits for nine days, compared with a season-high of 59 on February 12. The league has had several low moments this season, including the Dallas Stars’ season delayed because of an outbreak within the team and mid-February’s issues that had some suggesting a delay in the season would be in the league’s best interests with 37 games canceled overall. Then on Tuesday came what some would call a Karma-enforced twist throughout the Gators program. Organizers of the swimming trials have launched sales of single-session tickets for the prelims and finals for Wave I from June 4-7 and Wave II from June 13-20. The four-day Wave I Trials competition will feature rising talent, with the top two swimmers of every event moving to Wave II. The Wave II eight-day competition serves as the sole qualifier for pool swimmers on the U.S. Olympic Team. The NAIA’s Council of Presidents has voted to postpone national championships in the fall for cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball to the spring of 2021. The decision notes that conference competition in those sports can still be held in the fall and winter if they choose; 51 NAIA institutions have already opted to postpone fall competition until the spring. While the Big 12 cannot mandate players be vaccinated, Bowlsby said, “we are certainly, as we go forward, encouraging student-athletes to get vaccinated. … anyone not getting vaccinated is taking unnecessary risk. And that’s not just student-athletes, that’s anyone in our society.” The NBA has struck a deal with the National Basketball Referees Association that requires all referees to be vaccinated this season, and those working games will receive booster shots once they become recommended. That the college basketball season has a firm start date with schedules and competition rules approved approximately two months before the new start to the season stands in stark contrast to how college football’s season has turned into a daily docu-drama with the Big Ten announcing this week it will start play in October, more than a month behind every other conference playing this season and very little cohesive strategy being shown. Rose Bowl Executive Director and Tournament of Roses CEO David Eads told Yahoo Sports he is “confident we’ll be able to host the Rose Bowl game in the Rose Bowl Stadium this season” and the iconic venue has been host to three UCLA home games this season. Bill Hancock , the CFP’s executive director, said Tuesday “at this moment, the College Football Playoff looks forward to playing one of the two semifinal playoff games at the Rose Bowl, as scheduled. As we move forward with our planning, we continue to hope that the Rose Bowl’s appeal to government officials to allow the families of student-athletes to attend will be permitted.” The schedule itself is not what was planned back in the offseason — there is a special Monday doubleheader and several games on the scheduled were shifted around a week ago. But overall, the league is moving forward without disruption even while some teams have had dodgy moments. The rest day on middle Sunday has been part of the Wimbledon charm and mystique for decades; only four times has the tournament had to play on that day because of first-week rain disruptions, each time leading to astonishing lines of fans waiting to get and atmospheres that are decidedly un-British. The rest day has meant that the Monday of the second week has always had all the men’s and women’s last-16 matches; those matches will instead be spread across two days. Whether the Browns’ absences will affect the game is up for some debate, although teams with widespread outbreaks have struggled during the season. The Baltimore Ravens were undermanned in Week 12, losing to the Steelers, while missing several players during a locker room outbreak that stemmed from a strength coach not wearing a mask in the team facility. There was also the infamous 31-3 loss to the Saints for the Denver Broncos with all four of their quarterbacks on the COVID-19 list. The Browns also sustained a near-devastating loss in Week 16 to the New York Jets while missing almost every one of its regular wide receivers; the loss forced Cleveland to win its regular season finale against the same Steelers they face this weekend in the playoffs. “When it is personal, it is as real as it can get,” Holzman said during a video conference with reporters. “And when people passionately care about something — in this case, women’s basketball — our fans, our student-athletes who are playing this game, it is our responsibility to give them a great championship experience and one they can be proud of.” The measures already have been recommended for approval by the commission’s staff, according to the story, and the Buccaneers are expected to unveil their ticket policy and seating capacity this week. “It is a little frustrating because we worked so hard and in cooperation with the NFL and counties and a number of different entities putting the executive order in place to wear masks,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “The upside is the majority of individuals understood the significance of wearing a mask. Yes, we did see some videos of people that weren’t wearing masks and at this point in dealing with COVID-19, there is a level of frustration when you see that.” When the Indy 500 races on its new August 23, organizers hope to have spectators in the stands at 50 percent of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s capacity. IMS president Doug Boles sent an email to ticket holders last week saying the aim is “to accommodate at least 50 percent of your original ticket quantities in or near your current seating location.” With its suites, grandstands and infield tickets, the race typically can sell 350,000 tickets, leading the potential number of spectators at 175,000 for the race. “I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we’re at,” Krzyzewski said. European health officials have linked about 2,500 COVID-19 cases to attendance at Euro 2020, which concludes on Sunday with England playing host to Italy at London’s Wembley Stadium in front of what will likely be more than 60,000 people. “China demands complete adherence to its position on a number of issues,” Oriana Skylar Mastro , who researches China security issues at Stanford University, told The Associated Press recently . “It demands this from governments, but also corporations, media, and individuals … So, do I think China is going to go after anyone, including sports reporters during the Olympics, that deviate from the ‘acceptable’ script? Yes, I absolutely do.” “Absolutely I want to see 90,000 at The Swamp,” Mullen said. “The section behind our bench , I didn’t see an empty seat. It was packed; the entire student section; must have been 50,000 people behind our bench going crazy. Hopefully, that will create a home-field advantage for us next week because we’ve passed a law in our state that allows us to do that.” The issue of Uganda’s delegation will also garner plenty of headlines in the coming days. The nine-person delegation arrived at the Narita airport near Tokyo, where a coach tested positive last Saturday. After he began to quarantine, Japanese authorities allowed the remainder of the team to travel more than 300 miles on a chartered bus to their camp in Izumisano, where they are now quarantining after the second positive test occurred. But five teams in California announced jointly on Wednesday that they will require full-time employees at their offices to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment: The Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Kings, Anaheim Ducks, L.A. Galaxy and L.A. Chargers announced its policies in a statement Wednesday from AEG, the parent company of the Kings and Galaxy and the Staples Center landlord of the Lakers. The requirement would include “limited exceptions as required by law,” and does not apply to athletes of those teams. The agreement also covers live entertainment companies and events AEG, Live Nation Entertainment, Goldenvoice, the Coachella music festival and ticket-buying platform AXS. 2020 Olympic Summer Games CEO Toshiro Muro said earlier that a COVID-19 vaccine is not a requirement to host the rescheduled games and that the organizers would like to have the Games with spectators on hand. Japan’s borders are still largely closed to foreign visitors, which fuels speculation about whether the Games are feasible. Stakeholders including sponsors and sporting federation officials will not be counted toward the attendance total, according to organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto . Japanese media reported that up to 20,000 people might attend the opening ceremony, over and above athletes. “One thing you want to make sure of is there may be some state and local differences,” Bloom said, pointing out that venues trying to implement such a policy also have to make accommodations for people who are not vaccinated either for health or religious reasons. She also said that regardless of a vaccine requirement at events, sports teams do have to ask fans several screening questions about COVID including how they feel, if they have been recently exposed to somebody with COVID or if they are experiencing symptoms that would be consistent with the virus. Friendlies against Netherlands and Wales were postponed in March, along with the CONCACAF Nations League Final Four in June in Texas and the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying in September. And given the financial impact that comes with having 100 percent capacity compared to restricted levels, it is not surprise that to this point, no FBS program has said anything other than they plan to have sellout crowds this fall. Whether that remains possible in a few months as cases rise in areas throughout the U.S. because of the Delta variant is uncertain. The question of time was raised over the weekend by Rick Pitino , the national championship-winning coach who is now at Iona and has said the season should start at a later date with only conference games being played and the NCAA Tournament, held in March, rescheduled for May instead. IndyCar raced last weekend at Road America in Wisconsin on a 4-mile road course and crowd estimates for that event have been around 10,000 spectators. The IndyCar series plans to have fans again during its upcoming race weekend at Iowa Speedway with a limited number of tickets available and social distancing enforced throughout the stands. But McIver also said the Norse athletic department has raised nearly $1.2 million to help offset the financial losses between raffles, special events and gifts from alumni and other donors. “Despite its best efforts to come up with an alternative, the UCI regrets to announce that there will be no UCI World Championships in the discipline in 2020,” a statement said. In fact, two teams that had kept open the idea of having fans in attendance, the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings, both announced this week that they will not go forward with those plans. The Patriots have not had fans in the stands for any games this season; the Vikings have allowed up to 250 family members of team personnel in attendance but had looked into getting permission to increase that number. The NFL team that had the first sustained outbreak during the 2020 season, necessitating that two of its games be rescheduled, is having an outbreak before the 2021 regular season even gets underway. The Packers say protocols for last weekend’s game will continue on Sunday with fans in socially distanced groups throughout the stadium and no access to suites or club suites because they are indoor venues. The team also said tailgating will be prohibited; it said the same before last weekend’s win although there was plenty of evidence that the policy was not strictly adhered to. “We are extremely excited to be able to welcome our incredible fans back to the US Open this year,” said Mike Dowse , USTA chief executive officer. “While we were proud that we were able to hold the event in 2020, we missed having our fans on-site, because we know that they are a large part of what makes the US Open experience unlike any other.” Given the issues that pro and college football have had this fall, and the multiple shutdowns already in college basketball in November because of positive tests, the chances of having the regular season go without a postponement or shutdown is certainly not one on which to bet. Philadelphia 76ers Coach Doc Rivers said during his team’s media day that “I’m very concerned if we can pull this off … if one of our guys and two of our key guys gets the virus and they miss 10 days to 14 days, that can be eight games and that can knock you out of the playoffs.” “That’s probably the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in a race car,” said Kevin Harvick , running his first Truck Series race since 2015. “Really, really unsafe conditions so far, as far as vision goes. I just had to look left and go off what you know of the race track.” “Now that the orders are lifted and summer is almost here, we deserve a Re-Opening Day,” said Jill Meyer , president and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “We urge everyone to go to the Reds game on June 2, come downtown and celebrate the future, and honor what we have been through together as a community.” The first major professional sports league to have resumed action last summer was the NWSL, which held the Challenge Cup in Utah to great reviews and TV ratings. Given the Cup’s success and how the league was able to hold additional in-market matches, the league has decided to keep that format for the most part this season, releasing key dates for 2021. What it all means? The NBA is trying to set up a restricted bubble environment in the real world that isn’t a bubble akin to what it organized last summer in Orlando, Florida. Another conference that made a change on the fly is the Atlantic 10, which will flip the dates of its men’s and women’s conference tournaments. The men’s tournament will be held March 3–6 at VCU and Richmond in Virginia with the title game on March 14 at the University of Dayton so that teams can go directly to Indianapolis. The women’s tournament will be March 10–14, also in Richmond, which made some men’s coaches question why the regular season was shortened by a week, potentially depriving some teams of additional games that could help their NCAA at-large profiles. Both the IOC and Tokyo organizers have been working to find ways to keep next year’s rescheduled event safe. Muto told the BBC that they may reduce the number of staff allowed from individual countries and present a streamlined Opening or Closing Ceremony. There are no current plans to cut the number of events or athletes that would compete in Japan. And while the rest of the men’s tournament went on without a hitch after VCU’s withdrawal, the Marion County health department is currently investigating to see if anybody in the Indianapolis area was exposed to the coronavirus after an 23-year-old Alabama fan, Luke Ratliff , died on Friday from COVID-related complications after being at the Crimson Tide’s Elite Eight overtime loss to UCLA at Hinkle Fieldhouse last weekend. Conference tournaments in each of their own ways can be an amazing experience. Fan bases from every team come to one city for days at a time for a true hoops overload: Games starting in the early afternoon and sometimes not ending until late at night, each team’s seating areas making the arena a virtual rainbow of shirts and signs. After watching their favorite team in person, fans often go to a nearby sports bar with other fans and watch — you guessed it — more college basketball conference tournaments. “There will be a number of constraints and conditions that participants will have to respect and follow, which will have an impact on their experience, particularly the social experience of what we know an Olympic Games can be,” said Pierre Ducrey , Olympic Games operations director. As stakeholders begin their travel to Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, an elaborate transportation system is beginning to take shape to make sure athletes, coaches, officials, media and Olympic dignitaries can get where they need to go. The Super Bowl rotation will see CBS , Fox and NBC carry three games each compared to two for ABC, which has not broadcast a Super Bowl since 2006. As part of the ESPN deal, not only will ABC broadcast two Super Bowls, the network will have the rights for up to three Monday night games per year as part of MNF doubleheaders. Atlanta Motor Speedway will also open its grandstands to full capacity for the July 10–11 NASCAR weekend in Hampton, Georgia. The capacity is not known but the first July race at AMS in 47 years will also be the first race at the venue to host an expansive grandstand audience since the start of the pandemic. In the Big Ten, Minnesota’s program revealed on Monday that “since November 19, the program has experienced 47 positive cases, which includes 21 student-athletes and 26 staff.” That has meant not only did the Gophers’ scheduled game this past Saturday against Wisconsin get canceled — the first time the teams have not played since 1906 — but the Gophers’ game this coming weekend against Northwestern will also be canceled. The Wildcats may by the end of the week be crowned Big Ten West Division champions since its 5-2 record can only be bested by Iowa … should the Hawkeyes finish out its schedule, which is never a guarantee this season. The next 48 hours or so until the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off in Indianapolis will be the tipping point for one of the most important parts of the controlled environment — making sure no teams have to be withdrawn because of positive tests. • ESPN has canceled X Games Minneapolis citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The event had been scheduled for July 17–19 and would have marked the fourth consecutive year the event was staged in Minneapolis , including U.S. Bank Stadium. The X Games moved its signature summer event to Minneapolis in 2017 and has seen attendance regularly top 100,000 over the course of the event. The 2020 event marked the end of a two-year extension that ESPN had signed with Sports Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018. While California’s statewide restrictions have allowed for the chance to have fans at sporting events, Los Angeles County — home of SoFi Stadium and the L.A. Rams and L.A. Chargers — have not met the health and safety benchmarks to host fans. Santa Clara County health officials said that fans will still not be allowed to go to San Francisco 49ers games even though the country technically could allow a restricted number of fans in the stands. Geno Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday — four days after getting his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to CDC guidelines, Auriemma, who turns 67 on March 23, remains nine days shy of becoming fully vaccinated. London is calling for the National Football League this season after a COVID-enforced year away. The Crew match was postponed following two confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Columbus staff, and Dallas-Minnesota was delayed after two confirmed positive cases among Minnesota’s player pool. It’s not just the Power 5 conferences that are trying to make sure that all the games will be played, either. Conference USA rescheduled seven games that have already been postponed because of COVID-19 with all of the games moved to the first two weeks of December. Because of the number of postponed games, the conference title game has already been moved from December 5 to December 18. The allowance of fans in Buffalo comes after a unique plan was developed and then approved by the state of New York that will require everyone in attendance to undergo COVID-19 testing and register a negative test in the days leading to the game. Those who were able to secure the rare tickets paid an extra $63 to have the cost of testing included; contact tracing will also be conducted after the game to make sure that there is no community spread of the coronavirus. And while the NHL’s early buzz is surrounding its outdoor games, USA Hockey has cancelled the 2021 USA Hockey/Labatt Blue Pond Hockey National Championships , which were set for February 4–7 in Eagle River, Wisconsin. “Wherever you are, please support your medical and health care professionals,” Brennan said. “…  We sincerely hope that you will appreciate our careful decision to cancel this event due to the changing situation with COVID. “We’re still going to be very cautious indoors and meetings and so forth on trying not to have an issue with the COVID,” said Saban, who missed his team’s game against Auburn last season after contracting COVID. • The USA Masters Games , a multisport competition, has announced it will move its 2020 event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to 2021. The event had been scheduled for June 19–21 and June 26–28, 2020. The new dates in 2021 will be June 24–27. The event will continue to be called the 2020 Masters Games. While the Masters Games will be postponed, plans are still continuing for the 2020 State Games of Michigan. Details of that event are being discussed, including a potential shift in schedule and event locations, said Eric Engelbarts , who serves as the executive director of both the State Games of Michigan and the Local Organizing Committee for the 2020 USA Masters Games. While sports at every level throughout the United States have been disrupted, suspended or worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, spare a moment or two and look north of the border to what Canadian sports fans have been through. NCAA President Mark Emmert discusses the latest developments in fall sports and looks ahead to winter and spring championships. “These rules must be clearly recognized by all participants for the sake of the Games,” said Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto . “They must be prepared to make contributions when they come to Japan.” “The Steelers-Titans game, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, will be rescheduled to allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel. Details on the new game date and time on either Monday or Tuesday will be announced as soon as possible,” the league said in a short statement. The IOC has implemented several requirements for athletes ahead of the Games that include taking a temperature test before entering an event, proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of flying to Tokyo and not using public transport during the Games without permission. The IOC says face masks must be worn at “all times” except when sleeping, eating or outdoors and everyone attending the Games must download Japan’s contact tracing app. The general plan is to isolate athletes in the Olympic Village alongside Tokyo Bay. In a memo sent to teams, MLB noted that state and local authorities could mandate more restrictive standards and all policies are subject to change. During the 2020 postseason when a limited number of fans were allowed to attend the National League Championship Series and World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, temperature checks were not required. The Dolphins have had 20% capacity while the Chiefs were at 22% for its home opener, and both the Jaguars and Cowboys allowed 25% capacity at its home openers. The Georgia-Missouri game joins Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M-Tennessee and Auburn-Mississippi State has being postponed ahead of this weekend. The league has had so many postponements that CBS, its broadcast partner, will not have a game on Saturday to show once the network’s third-round coverage of The Masters is completed. What looked around Labor Day weekend to be a slimmed down version of a college football season may now, in what can only be considered an unlikely outcome, almost an entirely full season. The preliminary rounds have typically taken place on back-to-back Thursday-Sunday weekends. But with teams needing to fly to Indianapolis after Selection Sunday and go through testing, having First Four games within 48 hours would have been too quick a turnaround. Those comments are further than Garber has gone in years past. Fans who want the merger to happen soon can forget about it, given the CBA between Major League Soccer and the players union was extended recently through 2027. Sunday’s Games Tampa Bay at Green Bay, 12:05 p.m. EST: Up to 6,500 fans will be allowed Buffalo at Kansas City, 3:40 p.m. EST: Up to 16,811 fans will be allowed Toronto FC joins the NBA’s Raptors and MLB’s Blue Jays in being in Florida. The Raptors are playing out of Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay while the Blue Jays, who played in Buffalo, New York, last season, are holding at least their first two regular-season homestands in Dunedin. The Jays will review the situation after that, with a return to Buffalo a possible next step. “But the extension of the state of emergency and having him visit during that time will mean that President Bach will be visiting in a quite a difficult time,” Hashimoto said. “I think that would be a very difficult thing for him.” “From what I heard in Brazil they have closed the borders too. It is very difficult to give an opinion. We the players want to play. It is clear. The issue is to find a good place to play,” Argentina star Sergio Aguero said. “We have to play it, there is no time … we already lost last year. There was a year to find a place where it could be done and what could happen … every month, two months everything changes.” England is to return to a system of tiered restrictions starting December 2 with gyms, pools, golf courses and leisure facilities allowed to open in all tiers after the government accepted their positive impact on physical and mental health. Indoor events in areas that are either Tier 1 or Tier 2 can have up to 1,000 fans on hand. But in some countries outside the U.S., crowds are slowly emerging — in Australia and New Zealand, most prominently. England was added to that list on April 25 when it hosted 8,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London for the Carabao Cup Final between Premier League teams Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. The NBA is going so far to try and maintain the feeling of a bubble-type atmosphere as to detail for teams which restaurants are approved for players to eat at while on the road — establishments that meet league-approved criteria such as being outdoors or having a private indoor room for players only. “You know, the fans want to come back,” Goodell said. “That’s the No. 1 thing we hear. We’re seeing that in our ticket sales. Fans just want to be a part and have that collective experience. Doing that around an NFL game is fun.” “I apologize to the women’s basketball student-athletes, to the coaches, women’s basketball committee for dropping the ball, frankly, on the weight room issue in San Antonio,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt , who oversees both the men’s and women’s tournaments. “I apologize and feel terrible about anything that falls short of our lofty expectations. … We’ll get it fixed as soon as possible.” Friday’s positive test for the Patriots comes the day after quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, most notably, practiced for the first time after being taken off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Newton’s positive test had forced the delay of New England’s game against Kansas City from Sunday, October 5 to the following day while Gilmore’s positive test came as the team was on an off week. It is the biggest and most recent skirmish in the growing clash between club teams and national federations. More than ever before, club teams hate the idea of losing players for international duty given the distances that some of them travel in the global game; the more nuanced view of the Premier League’s decision is laid bare further down in its statement, when it points out the quarantine players would have to undergo would mean missing up to four games. The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees will allow conferences to have flexibility in case some want to cancel their postseason tournaments, adjusting the submission date for each league’s automatic qualifier policy for the 2021 NCAA Tournaments to February 26 in case. “Ticketing was the highest, roughly between $375,000 and $400,000,” McIver said. “It’s ticketing, it’s sponsorships, concessions, parking.” Organizers said last Monday that up to 10,000 local fans would be allowed into venues — with numbers not to exceed 50 percent of capacity — despite several medical experts in Japan who cautioned against the move. But a COVID-19 panel for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported Thursday that “there’s a sign of resurgence” of infections in Tokyo and the news that two members of the Ugandan delegation have tested positive for the delta variant of COVID after arriving in Japan has shook the country. Timing for the Olympic tennis tournament also is not particularly kind for players when it comes international travel. The Olympic tennis tournament is scheduled to begin July 24, two weeks after the women’s final is held at Wimbledon in England. The tournament would end August 1, less than a month before the U.S. Open in New York City. Thursday’s Game Indianapolis at Tennessee: Up to 8,297 fans were allowed Monday’s Game New England at N.Y. Jets: No fans allowed Daly said the pace of vaccinations, particularly in the United States, is contributing to the league’s optimism about being able to bring in more fans soon. “We’re going to have some protocols that we put in place,” Mullen said Thursday . “… When you look at our protocols, how we’re going about it within the ability to wear a mask, when we’re wearing them, what situations, indoor compared to outdoors, how we’re managing guys that have been vaccinated compared to non-vaccinated, I think we’re just a lot more educated on how we adjust within what we’re doing to keep everybody as safe as possible.” “If the NCAA is going to put guidelines out, you should have a way that you can mandate it and make sure that everyone does it,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said during Big East Conference virtual media day on Wednesday. “That’s a problem, I think. That’s going to be a problem … You’ve already got two conferences that are not going by the guidelines,” referring to the Big 12 and SEC. “Today we are only 45 days away from the opening ceremony, although the state of emergency is in effect and the situation remains severe nationwide,” Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto told an executive board meeting Tuesday. “The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo has started to decrease little by little and we strongly hope the situation will be under control as soon as possible.” “This is normally the busiest time of year for Scottsdale’s tourism industry, largely because of Cactus League spring training,” Stephanie Pressler , who is the director of community affairs for Experience Scottsdale, told the AP in an email. “Understandably, our expectations are muted this year given the ongoing pandemic, though Experience Scottsdale is excited that the season is moving forward in a way that will keep teams, fans, employees and residents safe.” The NHL’s 2020 Canadian bubble in Toronto and Edmonton was marked with an expanded playoffs, a first-time Stanley Cup champion in the Tampa Bay Lightning and most impressively, the season being completed with tens of thousands of negative COVID-19 tests. Brazil opened the tournament on Sunday with a 3-0 win over Venezuela, which was depleted after nearly a dozen cases of COVID-19 involving players or staff. A fitness coach for Peru tested positive on Monday before the team left for Brazil and Colombia said two staffers also tested positive. The Bolivian Football Federation said three players and one coach have the virus. The Sharks are the first U.S.-based team to announce a mandatory vaccination policy, following similar announcements by the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. LaJoie missed last Sunday’s race at Michigan because the rules state that competitors who have not gotten vaccinated but are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for seven days. With the playoffs approaching, a title-contending driver could see his chances end simply by being exposed to a person with COVID. LaJoie said on Sirius XM NASCAR radio that a person inside the studio where he tapes his weekly podcast tested positive, which was enough to force him out Sunday. Perhaps predictable, the San Francisco Department of Public Health rejected the proposal on Wednesday afternoon. The San Francisco Chronicle obtained a letter from the department to the Warriors which in part said “indoor sports with spectators are not currently allowed under the State of California’s COVID-19 restrictions. Morever, and importantly, San Francisco is experiencing a rapid and significant surge in COVID-19 cases.” One of the first Major League Baseball teams to have reached a high threshold of vaccinated players — thereby allowing for relaxed health and safety protocols the rest of the season — has had another player hit the COVID-19 list in the second half of the regular season. Sunday’s Games Cleveland at Kansas City: Up to 16,000 fans will be allowed Tampa Bay at New Orleans: Up to 3,000 fans will be allowed For what will be an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament unlike any other, the schedule will be fittingly different than what college basketball fanatics have seemingly known by heart for decades. According to the L.A. Times , MLB told teams it would mandate fans wear a mask except when eating or drinking at their seats; that social distancing be enforced; and a buffer zone of at least six feet be established between fans and the playing field. One event already announced that it will be moved to a new site is the Myrtle Beach Invitational, made on Friday by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce . The event, scheduled for November 19-22, is hosted at Coastal Carolina University and has an estimated economic impact of $2 million . For some, the shuffle has already started. And for some destinations, the projected boost of economic impact will be lost. The All-Star Weekend has been postponed as well as its traditional set of outdoor games but in a decision that drew widespread attention on social media leading to Monday’s official announcement, the league will play two outdoor games at the Edgewood Resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada , with a view that should prove spectacular no matter what device fans use to watch. This year’s event will also be the last Wimbledon before another shift in the tournament’s tradition; known for its frequent rain delays before having a retractable roof on Centre Court and its No. 1 court several years ago, the tournament will stop having a rest day on the middle Sunday starting in 2022. The league had earlier announced it was canceling its August 8 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, as well as the enshrinement ceremonies for its 2020 induction class. Under the proposed new preseason schedule, the first games would take place August 20–24 with the second games being held August 27–31. “For the first time, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be staged without its loyal, enthusiastic fans lining the course and no one is more disappointed than we are,” said Executive Director Megan Leatham . “Our staff and board of directors have discussed and analyzed multiple scenarios in which our race could be staged. However, with the government-issued long-term mandates for wearing personal protective equipment, providing appropriate social distancing, and limiting the size of group gatherings, we feel it is impossible to safely host spectators at the race on August 30.” Should the in-person site visits be held, FIFA said the plan is to have host cities announced “in the last quarter of 2021.” The plan has been to have 17 cities host the 48-team event; it is expected that FIFA will pick 10 U.S. cities along with three from both Mexico and Canada, although that could change. The U.S. cities that are candidates to host games are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. “The Euro 2020 tournament and England’s progress to the Euro final generated a significant risk to public health across the UK even when England played overseas,” the report stated. “This risk arose not just from individuals attending the event itself, but included activities undertaken during travel and associated social activities.” “On behalf of Canada Basketball and our Senior Women’s National Team, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to our partners at the Toronto Raptors for their generous offer to host our team and provide a first-class training environment as we continue to prepare for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup and ultimately the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Glen Grunwald , Canada Basketball president and chief executive officer. The CBA extension will also aid the league and union in planning for international and special events such as overseas games, the All-Star Game and Winter Classic. A point of emphasis for players in the extension was the ability to participate in the Olympic Winter Games in both 2022 and 2026. Players from the NHL had participated in five straight Olympics between 1998 and 2014 before skipping the 2018 event in South Korea. It was the sound of cheers from the grandstand, as at least 20,000 fans were socially distanced throughout the track’s massive grandstands. Up to 30,000 fans were allowed to attend the annual event, which was moved from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Tennessee for the first time. While the regular season is already under pressure, the NCAA Tournament is on track for March, with the strong likelihood of a  bubble-type setup in Indianapolis. When the NCAA announced in November that it was planning on that format for its marquee event, the question then followed to what the NCAA Women’s Tournament would do. The NCAA on Monday morning released that plan, saying it has begun preliminary talks with Final Four host site San Antonio and the surrounding region to serve as the landing spot for the 64-team tournament. Twenty of MLB’s 30 teams are averaging 10,000 fans per game this season even with the capacity restrictions. “We do think all players and personnel are safer if they are vaccinated,” Goodell said. “I don’t know of a single medical source that doesn’t believe that.” Through all of the controversies the past two weeks surrounding unequal treatment of athletes between the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, one thing has been made clear: President Mark Emmert is here to stay. “I’m just tired, to be honest with you,” said Boston manager Alex Cora , whose team is now wearing masks in the dugout. “You know, to be thinking about it the whole time and have to deal with this before a game and during the game and all that. Honestly, that’s how I feel right now. The season part and all that stuff, that’s the easy part for me. But to have to deal with everything that has to do with this — it’s not easy. It’s not easy.” On the other hand, there is the train of thought that with college campuses emptying out, basketball teams will be able to have fewer “distractions” with classes and more importantly additional people around campus to increase the risk of COVID-19 on campus. Traditionally, the winter semester break was used to get in a bunch of games and practices. “It is nonetheless terribly sad for the players that it affects,” chief executive Sally Bolton said, adding whether a person is fully vaccinated has no bearing on the requirement for isolation by anyone deemed a close contact. ESPN reported that the Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, had no positive results in their latest round of testing. The Vikings’ facilities were closed on Tuesday ahead of the team’s game on Sunday at the Houston Texans, who were scheduled for that game to have fans in their stadium for the first time this season. Under current protocols, vaccinated players and staffers are tested once every 14 days, while unvaccinated personnel are subject to daily testing. The NFLPA reportedly also is asking that the number of people allowed into the locker rooms be reduced and cited updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on masking to reduce the spread of the delta variant. Following Osaka’s comments, four-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams said Monday that she would not participate in the Games if she is not allowed to bring her 3-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia . One team to watch the next few days also is the Green Bay Packers, who had running back AJ Dillon test positive. Several players, including fellow running back Jamaal Williams , have been described as “close contacts” and must isolate until cleared by the league. That puts the Packers down to two running backs on the active roster ahead of their game on Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Alabama team physicians Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen said the school would follow the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force Protocol for testing asymptomatic positives, which both Saban and Byrne are. CDC guidelines say those with positive tests must isolate for 10 days and contact tracing requires a 14-day quarantine. The announcement comes after the WNBA’s teams and arenas have spent the past two months hosting vaccination drives while players such as Sue Bird have volunteered at clinics . Enclosed areas include haulers and buildings, restrooms, the infield care center, race control and suites. NASCAR said the update was being implemented on the advice of its consulting physicians and recently issued medical guidance. The Dallas Cowboys are the lone NFL team to have not released detailed plans for fans. The team has previously said it expects to have fans in attendance, which would make six out of the league’s 32 teams having fans from the beginning. “When I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons because nobody really knows,” Rivera said. “I have to do that. And I just wish and I hope that our guys can understand that.” Conference champions would receive first-round byes with teams seeded 5-12 playing in first-round games on campus sites in early December. The quarterfinals and semifinals would be played at bowl games; the national championship game would remain at a neutral site. It is the 11th bowl game to announce it will not be played this year; there are still 33 scheduled including the College Football Playoff, which would be the lowest number of bowl games played since 2007. The NFL will have fans at each of its games this weekend for the first time all season, even with the asterisk that only one of the home teams will be allowing more than 7,000 fans to attend. One big question about the organization of the season will be what the league does with teams in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver given travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. The league said on Monday “more details on plans for the Canadian teams will be announced in the near future.” “We’re very excited for our fans, who get an opportunity to watch this great hockey team perform on the ice,” Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse said. “We’re excited for our players, who have a chance to play in front of a building with people in it.” “Nobody can tell me whether or not the border between Canada and the United States will be open by a certain date,” Bettman said. “Nobody can tell me what the state of COVID-19 is going to be; nobody can tell us whether our arenas will have either socially distanced or fully occupied buildings.” The IOC needs the Games to go on regardless of the conditions in Tokyo because of the amount of revenue it gets from each event, the vast majority of which comes from NBC. The degree to which NBC plans to leverage its billion-dollar agreement with the IOC was emphasized on Monday, when NBCUniversal revealed its plans for the Games with 7,000 hours of coverage scheduled across eight networks and multiple digital platforms. NBC itself is scheduled to air 250 hours across 17 days, an average of nearly 15 hours per day, starting with live coverage of the opening ceremony at 6:55 a.m. EDT on July 23. While no NBA team has publicly asked players not to play in the Olympics, they will all certainly be holding their breath when it comes to injuries after the 2020–2021 season started in late December and compressed 72 games into the regular season; those who participate in the Olympics will have the shortest offseason in modern NBA history with training camps scheduled to open in September. That, amazingly, may be easier than what the league is trying to accomplish next. That has not stopped the Golden State Warriors from, according to ESPN , presenting a plan recently to state and local officials in San Francisco proposing that they open the Chase Center at 50 percent of its 18,064 capacity when the NBA’s 2020–2021 season begins December 22. A decision on the remaining winter and spring sports competition calendar, and on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring, will be determined at a later date. Daily testing for athletes is in, mandatory quarantine requirements are out in the latest plans for this year’s rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo. This year, teams are dealing with players missing games for reasons other than injuries. The COVID-19 protocols enforced by the league have not only made sure that players who have tested positive miss games but also potentially those who come into close contact with a positive player or person away from the team facilities. And as cases spike throughout the country, what at the start of the season — a player testing positive — would send shudders throughout the league is now becoming slowly more accepted. Not un-newsworthy, but accepted with coaching staffs adapting to it just as they would a pulled hamstring. Three players on the roster — Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday and Phoenix’s Devin Booker — are still in the postseason and could play as late as July 22. USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN on Wednesday that all three have committed to traveling to Japan by private plane. States across the country are ramping up vaccination facilities and opening up the eligibility to get shots in arms, with 34 states in total planning to have vaccines available to the adult population by mid-April. “We want to thank the city of Philadelphia, the Eagles and all involved in the planning for their efforts to navigate this historic game in the current COVID-19 climate,” said Buddie. “We are excited about this historic opportunity to host Navy and the Brigade inside the gates of West Point for the first time since 1943.” Florida-LSU is the second SEC game this week that has been postponed, joining Missouri against Vanderbilt. Commodores Coach Derek Mason said on Wednesday that his team has around “high 40s” of available scholarship players. But as the NBA’s Play-In Tournament started on Tuesday with a pair of Eastern Conference games, the league has had more fans in person than ever this season. When the Indiana Pacers beat the Charlotte Hornets, Bankers Life Fieldhouse was at 25 percent capacity; the TD Garden had 12 percent capacity when the Boston Celtics beat the Washington Wizards. The Minnesota Vikings, who played the Titans last weekend, have had no positive results in testing. Their facility was reopened on Thursday. Each league has said that vaccinated individuals will not have to follow as strict a list of protocols as others who are not vaccinated will have to follow. The NFL this week has said that teams who have only fully vaccinated people in their draft rooms will face fewer restrictions than those who include some who have not been vaccinated. In an email to Permanent Seat License owners, the Baltimore Ravens announced that season tickets for 2020 will be deferred to the 2021 campaign and 2020 season ticket seat locations for all fans will be protected, and the same seats will be offered for renewal in 2021. Credits for funds paid toward the 2020 season to date will be applied to accounts and can be used toward renewal for next season or toward future ticket purchases, or a refund can be requested. Super Bowl LV is scheduled for February 7. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave Florida stadiums approval to open up their full capacity back in the fall but none of the state’s NFL or college football teams have taken him up on that “offer.” Wentz is the third high-profile quarterback to run into COVID contact tracing issues this preseason. Minnesota starting QB Kirk Cousins had to miss five days at the start of August after coming into contact with a Vikings staffer who tested positive and New England’s Cam Newton had to miss five days after a “misunderstanding” of COVID protocols after he left training camp for a team-approved medical appointment that was away from the team facility; Newton was waived by the Patriots on Tuesday morning. “We are committed to doing everything we can in the current environment to protect your health and safety while at the same time providing the best game day experience in the NFL,” the Saints said in a statement . “We understand some will be frustrated, as are we, that we find ourselves in this position. We, as a community, have overcome so much in our history and come back stronger every time. …  We need you in that number – both on game day and in defeating this virus.” All 2020 ticket holders will be guaranteed the same tickets for the 2021 Masters. The tournament was only postponed on the Monday before the event in April was scheduled to begin, with a rescheduled event set in the hopes of having fans — or patrons in Masters-speak — on the grounds. “The Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League is our flagship club competition and a huge amount of work has gone into ensuring we can safely resume the tournament and crown a regional club champion in 2020,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani . “Orlando’s Exploria Stadium will provide a great host venue for the final seven matches of this competition.” The ability to make sure that teams enter the controlled environments at each site without any positive tests has been addressed by NCAA Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt and NCAA Vice President of Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman in recent interviews. In its own letter addressed to Prime Minister  Yoshihide   Suga , Tokyo Governor  Yuriko   Koike , Olympic Minister  Tamayo   Marukawa  and  Seiko   Hashimoto , the head of Tokyo’s organizing committee, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association said “we believe the correct choice is to the cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths.” The TMPA also said further cases that come with the Games being held would put the country’s medical system under excessive stress; Tokyo organizers have said about 10,000 medical personnel will be needed during the Olympics and have also asked for 500 extra nurses, but multiple prefectures surrounding Tokyo have said they will not give priority to treating Olympic athletes. Kirk Cousins , Nate Stanley and Kellen Mond were all sidelined last weekend, leaving only Jake Browning available for the team’s open practice in front of fans. Mond tested positive for COVID and both Cousins and Stanley were deemed high-risk close contacts and had to isolate for five days before returning to practice. The announcement in Vancouver camehours after Calgary Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Calgary Flames, the Western Hockey League Hitmen and the Canadian Football League Stampeders, said fans, staff and employees will also have to be fully vaccinated starting September 15. “In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the Tokyo organizing committee said in a statement on Saturday. The rise of COVID cases among non-vaccinated people could still threaten the college football season this fall, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby warned during the league’s media day in Dallas last week. Until a few weeks ago, Toronto had been playing in Orlando, Florida, while Montreal was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Vancouver was playing in Sandy, Utah. The 2020 USA Triathlon Age Group Draft-Legal National Championships, initially scheduled for November 14 in Tempe, Arizona, have been rescheduled to April 2021. As a result, the event will be held as a world qualifier rather than a national championship. “The CFL depends on ticket revenue more than other professional sports leagues in North America,” Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said. “Fans in the stands account for at least half of our revenue. Our clubs already stand to suffer substantial financial losses this year. Playing without fans in the stands would dramatically increase those losses.” Some coaches from this year’s tournament have even raised the idea of continuing some type of one-site schedule. Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann mentioned having the Sweet 16 and Final Four all in one site in this recent ESPN story and Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton agreed, saying “I think , we can create an even greater environment. Plus, less stress on families having to travel multiple times in a short span.” One team already looks to be ineligible for the Big Ten title game in Wisconsin, which had its game against Minnesota postponed because of positives within the Gophers program. This is the first year since 1906 that the teams have not played; Wisconsin has had three games canceled this season and as it stands would only have five games by the end of the season. “While many of the operational issues identified have been resolved, we must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports,” Emmert’s statement read in part. “As part of this effort, we are evaluating the current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so we have a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue. Many countries are not putting athletes near the top of the list to be vaccinated. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has not issued an official policy, but Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jonathan Finnoff said U.S. athletes would not jump to the front of any lines to get a shot. While other leagues obviously had to suspend operations or delay their seasons, both the NHL and NBA made the calls to suspend play as the end of the regular season loomed before the postseason. And the NBA decided to restart its season after several months away, it also did so with a few innovations and tweaks to its typical format. The moves will have long-term impact on the golf schedule in years to come. All subsequent Ryder Cups are now expected to shift to odd years, with the next two events scheduled for Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome in 2023, and Bethpage Black on Long Island in New York hosting in 2025. Sites for the Ryder Cup are selected through 2037. The Ryder Cup had originally been played in odd years before switching to even years after its postponement in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. The race in Suzuka had been scheduled between events in Turkey and Austin, Texas. Previous races scheduled in Australia and Singapore have been cancelled and the Chinese GP in Shanghai is still listed as being postponed indefinitely. Whether in college or professional sports, one of the biggest issues for leagues playing in the fall and winter is what will happen financially without the ability to have a full house — or any fans in attendance at all. “An event like this requires a lot of advance planning,” said John Ramsey , general manager of Pacific Raceways. “We needed assurance from the state and county that we could run an event of this size without any restrictions, but we were unable to get a guarantee.” “Every site must implement and follow strict hygiene and protection plans and every accredited stakeholder must respect these rules,” the International Ski Federation said in a recent statement to the New York Times . “We had a positive start with last weekend’s races in Soelden and will continue to work for similar results as the season progresses.” #Titans coaches have told players if they have to go without any work until Saturday, have a walkthrough then and play the #Steelers Sunday then that's what they'll have to do. No excuses. s — Mike Garafolo September 29, 2020 It will be interesting to see if more venues, teams and even leagues in North America will emphasize a vaccination requirement for attendance. The New York Knicks, should it had advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, said it was going to require proof of vaccination for fans to be at Madison Square Garden; those plans were not needed after the team’s first-round elimination at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets announced it will require proof of full vaccination of fans to attend home games at Canada Life Centre this season, saying on Wednesday that season-ticket holders canvassed for opinions said that was their preference. Fans will also be required to wear masks in the arena. The Jets also said that children ages 12 and up must be fully vaccinated to attend games as well. The USTA has had to make some adjustments in its initial plans, which called for players to be quarantined at the TWA Hotel at New York’s JFK International Airport. The new plan has players in two Long Island hotels, including the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale next to the Nassau Coliseum. “All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” said Michael H. Schill , president of the University of Oregon in announcing the Pac-12’s decision. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.” “Like all of the decisions we’ve made related to COVID-19, this was a difficult one but was made with the health and well-being of our students and community in mind,” Thomas wrote. “It follows my intention to maintain a safe campus in hopes that our students will be able to return in August. Our Maroon Tiger teams travel to other NCAA institutions and cannot compete without breaking from   still maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sporting events also invite individuals to our campus who will not be subject to the testing and monitoring that we plan to implement for our students, faculty, and staff.” • DreamHack, one of the biggest gaming and digital festivals held throughout each year with pro, amateur and varsity esports tournaments, has canceled events in Sweden and Montreal and postponed DreamHack Valencia in Spain until October 8–12. The events in Sweden and Montreal will take place in 2021 instead while its five other festivals scheduled for the fall and winter, including November 13–15 in Atlanta , are still on the schedule. USTA officials said they are confident in their controlled environment for players, which is designed to limit their off-site activities at the events, which will both be staged at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “Travelers should avoid all travel to Japan,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “Because of the current situation in Japan even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Japan.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott ’s announcement that the state’s mask mandate has been rescinded and the state is “OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING” per his announcement on Twitter has naturally led to questions about several high-profile sports events that are scheduled to be held imminently throughout the state. “The way I see it, quite honestly, it’s like the current situation here with the exception of the six time zones, is that I’m going to take a test here before I go, God willing it’s negative, and when I go over there, I guess I’ll be tested again,” Johnson said before Sunday. “Again, my guess is, and I think it’s a pretty fair guess, that they’re looking out for the betterment of the whole and not just us players. It’s kind of what I do each and every week anyway, and that’s fine.” While the season remains in play, the league is already looking ahead to one of its prime offseason events and making changes. The NFL Combine, which typically brings thousands of prospective draftees plus coaches, scouts and team executives to Indianapolis, will not be held in its traditional form. Instead, this year’s draft prospects will have on-field workouts held on campus with the league working to have a uniform process for each prospect. A memo obtained by ESPN says the league does not outline what precautions will be in place but indicates that more details will come at a later date. All team interviews will be done virtually. The reporting from Shannon and the NHL’s quick reaction to it spotlights the issue of pro leagues that have been able to secure large quantities of COVID-19 testing, whether it be rapid testing or PCR testing, while some health care providers have not been as lucky . The league itself has not even announced officially its plans for a 2021 season, though multiple reports have indicated that it will start in mid-January with a 56-game schedule and restructured divisions for this season only, including an all-Canadian division because of travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. If you thought the college football season was done just because Alabama won the College Football Playoff title game in January over Ohio State, think again. Tennessee at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans will be allowed Minnesota at Tampa Bay: Up to 16,000 fans will be allowed Kansas City at Miami: Up to 13,000 fans will be allowed Denver at Carolina: Up to 5,240 fans will be allowed Houston at Chicago: No fans will be allowed Arizona at N.Y. Giants: No fans will be allowed Dallas at Cincinnati: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed Indianapolis at Las Vegas: No fans will be allowed N.Y. Jets at Seattle: No fans will be allowed Green Bay at Detroit: No fans will be allowed Atlanta at L.A. Chargers: No fans will be allowed Washington vs. San Francisco at Glendale, Arizona: No fans will be allowed New Orleans at Philadelphia: No fans will be allowed Pittsburgh at Buffalo: No fans will be allowed The Pac-12, which planned to only have conference games in its compressed schedule, has had to cancel five games already through two weeks. Because of the compressed season, the league will allow teams to insert a non-conference game into its schedule with a few contingencies: The opponent must meet Pac-12 testing and COVID protocols, the game must be at the Pac-12’s home stadium and a team can only have a non-conference game if there is no other suitable league game possible by Thursday of that game week. Miles said 90 percent of the IndyCar circuit’s participants had been vaccinated by last Sunday’s season opener and there are two more opportunities for competitors to get shots before racing begins at the speedway. Those who are not vaccinated before the track opens May 18 will be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing. “The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds,” Managing Director Brian Abernathy told the Philadelphia Inquirer . “We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don’t have fans.” The 2019–2020 season was interrupted by COVID-19 on March 11, 2020, before it resumed in a bubble environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida, on July 30. Instead of all 30 teams, only 22 went into the bubble and the Finals ended on October 11, 2020, 355 days after the season started. After a 72-day turnaround from the end of the Finals, the 2020–21 season started on December 22 with the season reduced to 72 games from 82 before the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA title on July 20. A game scheduled for Tuesday between Sheffield United and Burnley took place despite Sheffield United recording ‘numerous positives’ and Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl missed his side’s match with West Ham after a member of his household tested positive. Call of Duty League Major IV will be hosted by the 2020 Call of Duty League Champions Dallas Empire, to be staged at Esports Stadium Arlington . The event, June 17–20, will be the first in-person competition for the professional esports league this year. “We are thrilled to invite fans of both the Falcons and Atlanta United back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” says Steve Cannon , chief executive officer of AMB Sports and Entertainment. “Having fans watch from alternative locations was a difficult, but important decision. It’s been challenging for both teams to play without fans, but their well-being as well as the safety of our associates and fans was paramount.” And while the Canadiens may not have 20,000 people at home games, the team will be able to play at home for the rest of the playoffs after a decision by Canada’s government Sunday to issue an exemption for cross-border travel. International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates said that the rescheduled Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo will go ahead in 2021 regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, calling them the “Games that conquered COVID.” Fans are slowly starting to come back to sports throughout the United States — in limited quantities. “The more I thought about it I think that this is going to be best for our football team and then be able to take a few days off this weekend, come back Monday and really focus in and have a great week,” Vrabel said. “But it’s a long week. And we have plenty of time.” At least there’s better news in Washington, where several players were on the COVID-19 list last weekend. The low rate of vaccinated players at the time irritated coach Ron Rivera greatly; since then, the jump has jumped to at least 84 percent of the team having at least one shot thanks in part of last Sunday, when the team scheduled appointments for all players who wanted a shot. The NCAA said the items in the video were equipment for teams to use while they waited to get onto the practice court as it was being sanitized and that a full weight facility would be ready for the Sweet 16. But within 24 hours, teams were able to go to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and, when not on one of the nine practice courts, utilize heavier weights, squat racks, benches, resistance bands and exercise balls along with exercise bikes, rowing machines, treadmills and, of course, the yoga mats. Did all of the equipment show up out of nowhere? No — it was already in San Antonio and had not been laid out for use. Sunday’s Games Detroit at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans will be in attendance N.Y. Jets at Miami: Up to 13,000 fans will be in attendance Cincinnati at Indianapolis: Up to 12,500 fans will be in attendance Green Bay at Tampa Bay: Up to 10,000 fans will be in attendance Houston at Tennessee: Up to 8,643 fans will be in attendance Baltimore at Philadelphia: Up 7,500 people will be allowed in the stadium Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Up 7,500 people will be allowed in the stadium Chicago at Carolina: Up to 5,240 fans will be in attendance Atlanta at Minnesota: Up to 250 family members of players will be in attendance L.A. Rams at San Francisco: No fans until further notice Denver at New England: No fans until further notice Washington at N.Y. Giants: No fans until further notice Monday’s Games Arizona at Dallas: Close to 25,000 fans will be in attendance Kansas City at Buffalo: No fans until further notice The NBA also has told its teams that anyone within proximity of players and referees will also have to be vaccinated. That mandate covers coaches, support staff traveling with teams, locker room attendants and those working at official scorer’s tables in NBA arenas. Player vaccination, with the apparent exception of the three teams mentioned in Wednesday’s memo, is collectively bargained between the league and NBPA, whose executive director, Michelle Roberts, told Yahoo Sports during the NBA Finals that the league’s player vaccination rate was around 90 percent . “I think this has changed everything forever,” said Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob during Sportico’s Return to the Stands virtual event. “Arenas are going to be cashless now going forward. Ventilation in buildings — we happen to have a new building and the ventilation is spectacular but even we made upgrades recently to make it better. We’re going to see people paying attention to a lot of those details.” Hear more on the NCAA Social Series TONIGHT at 7 p.m. ET from @NCAA . pic.twitter.com/SmjC8FU0Uo — NCAA August 13, 2020 The ACC’s move comes after two other Power 5 leagues, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, announced that they would have no non-conference play in the fall. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee pulled a major surprise on Monday, announcing the relocation of 13 predetermined preliminary round sites for the 2021 NCAA Tournament to one site with discussions ongoing about the entire tournament being held in the city of Indianapolis. In a 17-game season, the extra game will be out of conference and based on the previous season’s divisional order, with the home team alternated between conferences each season. It is widely expected that the preseason would shrink to three games instead of the traditional four; the 2020 season had no preseason because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The addition of a 17th game is the first change to the season structure since the 1978 season started an era of 16 games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear the league has leeway for team outbreaks, saying in a memo that any team could face a forfeit if it cannot play due to a COVID-19 cluster caused by unvaccinated players or staff and the league cannot reschedule the game. The LA Bowl , which was scheduled to host the Pac-12 Conference and Mountain West Conference at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, has announced that its inaugural game will not be played in 2020. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from having the game this year, we look forward to hosting teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12 Conferences next year,” the bowl said in a statement. What the NHL has set up for 2021 is a 56-game regular season with realigned divisions to cut down on travel and all-divisional play, with unique interest in the all-Canadian division. There is limited room for rescheduling games should more teams have outbreaks that require postponements; unlike last season, when the NHL had a semi-moveable deadline to get the season finished before an abbreviated 2021 campaign, the league’s TV partner, NBC, is committed to broadcasting the Olympic Summer Games in late July, making the timeline to complete this year less flexible. Erie County owns the venues that the Bills and Sabres play at, which is how Poloncarz is able to make such an edict. Poloncarz hopes to use New York’s Excelsior Pass app to facilitate entry and the county will work on a solution for fans who do not have smartphones. Plans will be in place before the season starts about how to welcome vaccinated fans from out of state. Given that the NFL has said rescheduling games will not be an option this season should a team have an outbreak — the opposite of last season’s approach — Irvin said from a strictly competitive standpoint, getting fully vaccinated gives a team an advantage over a team that does not. Newton missed a game early last season after a COVID-19 diagnosis. He is trying to retain the starter’s position this season after the Patriots drafted Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of this spring’s draft. Tatum was averaging 26.9 points per game before he tested positive. While he has not been ordinary by any means, he still has averaged two points per game less since his return. What is noticeable is his field goal percentage, down to 42.7 percent overall from 47.4 percent pre-COVID and 36.5 percent from 3-point range from 43.8 percent prior. Seven conferences in the FBS are playing this fall — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt. Most teams have started their season while the SEC will have a league-only season starting September 26. The answer: The NFL made the decision and it doesn’t have to explain itself more than it wants. For its part, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered several considerations for how youth sports organizations can protect players, families and beyond. But as the organization also noted, “Each community may need to make adjustments to meet its unique needs and circumstances. Implementation should be guided by what is practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.” England’s top flight had its 2019–2020 season suspended in March, which lasted almost four months before the remaining fixtures could be completed. And the city will have a small test run of sorts this week when USA Basketball joins teams from Mexico, Bahamas and Puerto Rico for a series of FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games to be held in a semi-bubble format. As rules continue to be refined for venues in Tokyo, athletes in the United States are still vying to make the team. While the Olympic Trials in several of the spotlight sports are finished — such as swimming — or currently underway — such as track and field and gymnastics — one team that is set is the U.S. men’s basketball team, which will be at less than full strength because of the NBA season that is still ongoing and a spate of injuries in the postseason that will keep key players from participating. There then were, of course, questions about what format the NCAA Women’s Tournament would take, which necessitated this statement: “There is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Maryland Director of Athletics Damon Evans said. “We realize that this news is disappointing to all of the Maryland fans out there who were looking forward to the Terps taking on an outstanding Ohio State team, but the responsible thing for us to do is pause football activities, given the number of positive cases currently in our program.” Toronto FC will make Florida their home base for the start of the 2021 MLS season, the club announced Friday. The club will use facilities at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando for training and could play home matches in both Orlando and Tampa, depending on the MLS schedule dates. Orlando City SC plays at Exploria Stadium while the Rowdies of the USL Championship play at the 7,500-seat Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. Smart filmed a video for the Georgia Department of Public Health urging fans to “say yes” to getting vaccinated. Georgia is not requiring fans to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend games at Sanford Stadium, which has a capacity of 92,746. The Philadelphia Eagles and other pro teams in the city will likely not have fans at their venues this year after city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said, “I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there.” But Cousins said “I very much believe in the protocols,” and he may set up plexiglass in the meeting room to isolate himself from other quarterbacks or insist on all meetings be held outdoors —  a novel concept to do in the Minnesota winter months. CONCACAF will revise its World Cup qualifying format following FIFA’s decision to remove September dates from the international calendar. The hexagonal competition was scheduled to have two games each in September, October and November, followed by two matches apiece in March and September of 2021. The U.S. was to have been in the six-nation hexagonal with Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and either El Salavdor or Canada. “There’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example,” Silver said. “Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections?” Whether those protocols will be modified as soon as today will be put to the test since the league has had to cancel two more games, Monday’s contest between the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks and Tuesday’s game between the Celtics and Chicago Bulls. In a statement, the league said “the NBA and NBPA will be meeting today about modifying the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.” Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani told Qatar newspapers that the country is trying to secure a million vaccine doses to immunize fans wanting to watch the tournament. The United Soccer League announced on Monday that 987 tests were administered to players and club staff from the 31 Championship clubs between August 9 and August 15, with three individuals from three clubs testing positive. The full format and schedule will be released in the next week. The NWSL’s return-to-play protocols reflect best practices developed and implemented during the Challenge Cup. League protocols have been updated to reflect the reality of home-market matches and regional travel and will influence all league and club actions outside the field of play. The soccer season will be an eight-match season with only conference play before the league tournament with every school competing from November 13–22 in Orange Beach, Alabama. The volleyball season will be the same format with eight matches over a six-week period; there was no mention of a postseason tournament in that sport. Cross country teams will be allowed to have either two or three competitions before the league meet on October 30 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Buffalo’s 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC wild card round in front of a “capacity” crowd of 6,700 was allowed by the local and state health authorities under the condition that each person entering the stadium test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of kickoff. The team and state announced that before the game, 7,157 people took a rapid test and 137 tested positive, a positive rate of 1.9 percent — far lower than the seven-day average of 7.2 percent in Erie County through last week. But with the surge of the Delta variant throughout the country, COVID continues to be the dominant storyline throughout the NFL for those who have started training camp this week. The Copa América, South America’s continental soccer championship which was postponed last summer, has relocated this year’s tournament to Brazil in a cloud of controversy less than two weeks before the opening match. While Oregon, Oregon State and Hawaii are not in the Big Ten, that league is the latest conference ahead of the season to announce that a team will forfeit games if it does not have the minimum number of available players because of COVID-19. If both teams are unable to compete on the date of a scheduled conference game because of COVID-19, and the game can’t be rescheduled, it will be considered a “no contest.” Regardless, Dubi emphasized that any stakeholder traveling to Japan will need to closely abide by the playbooks the IOC has drafted. While the final versions are forthcoming, further revisions may still be made up to the start of the Games, he said. “The one thing we owe to our Japanese hosts is an absolute respect of the playbooks,” Dubi said. “I was like, ‘Wow!’ And I said, ‘Oh, ,’” L.A. Lakers superstar LeBron James said after the Lakers’ second day of practice . “Being completely honest, I wasn’t expecting that because the early conversations that were going on, I was hearing it would kind of be a mid-January start and training camp would kind of start after Christmas. We would have an opportunity to spend Christmas with our families. So, I had already planned a vacation with my family, which I haven’t been able to do obviously since I’ve been in the league. So, I had to switch up a lot of things.” USA Triathlon has canceled the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships, which were initially scheduled to take place July 18 in Long Beach, California, as part of the Legacy Triathlon. When Legacy Triathlon event weekend was canceled, Paratriathlon Nationals were rescheduled to take place as part of the Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Triathlon hosted by Smooth Running on Sept. 20 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Triathlon will continue as a local USA Triathlon-sanctioned event for age-group athletes including a triathlon, duathlon and relay division as well as the USA Triathlon Southeast Paratriathlon Regional Championships. And while the chances of Tokyo winning it all back continue to decrease, the number of positive tests increase. Organizers said Saturday that 18 people with Olympic accreditations have tested positive since July 1; organizers said all but two are Japanese residents and most are contractors. Sunday’s games will be hosted by teams that have fans for most if not all of the season. The Kansas City Chiefs will host Cleveland with up to 16,000 fans allowed, having had 100,000 fans attend games in the regular season; Chiefs President Mark Donovan told the team’s website that the team has spent $1 million in safety-related protocols this season. The final game of the day, Tom Brady ’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Drew Brees ’ New Orleans Saints, will have up to 3,000 fans in the Superdome. The team said in a statement Monday that Newton went to the appointment Saturday and tested negative each day for COVID-19. But due to required by NFL and NFLPA protocols, he has been subjected to a five-day, re-entry cadence before he can return to the Patriots’ team facilities. And against the backdrop of that, there has been the unusual setup in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season with Notre Dame, which has long cherished its independence, as a league member for this season only. Because of that, the Fighting Irish were able to host Clemson on Saturday night in a meeting of No. 1 and No. 4 in the country in front of 11,011 fans. Nothing about this season was normal because how could it be? COVID-19 caused the postponement or cancellation of nearly 130 games. More than 20 schools opted out of bowl games and 16 games were canceled, a 39 percent cancellation rate that was twice the regular-season rate of 19.7 percent. BYU played 12 games this season, including a game against Coastal Carolina that was scheduled only days before kickoff; its biggest rival, Utah played five games, the first not coming until November 21 after its first two scheduled contests were canceled. The Evian Championship women’s major golf tournament in France has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, the first LPGA major to do so this season. Tournament chairman Franck Riboud says the cancellation is “unavoidable in view of the situation with regards to U.S. travel to continental Europe.” The Women’s British Open is still set for August 20–23 in Troon, Scotland . The three majors played in the United States have been rescheduled for later in the year. Putting aside the absurdity of how much attention was given to the opinion of a person who has no role whatsoever in the planning for this summer, Tokyo’s view since the postponement has been consistent and was reinforced again on Tuesday when CEO Toshiro Muto said “we are not discussing cancellation. Holding the Games is our unwavering policy and at this point in time we’re not discussing anything other than that,” according to the Japan Times. Importantly, the league says the announcement does not impact the joint declaration by the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association that they are targeting on or around January 1 as the start date for the upcoming NHL season. NASCAR will hold the 36th All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time. The July 15 prime-time race will include 30,000 fans in attendance as allowed by the state of Tennessee. The NBA has made it clear that it does not see the bubble format that it finished the 2019–20 season under as being something that could be used for a long period of time this season — but the G League season will reportedly be played in a Disney World Bubble with 18 of the league’s 29 teams agreeing to participate. Held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, it would not be a full season; instead it would be up to 15 games followed by the postseason with teams reporting to Orlando in mid-January and the season starting in early February. In a memo sent to clubs last week and obtained by the AP, the NFL and NFLPA will allow teams traveling to joint practices to have their daily maximum of Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuas to either 100 or 140, depending on the club’s vaccination percentage. Every team by the start of training camp will be required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. The Raiders announced a policy requiring all full-time employees on the business and football staffs of the organization to be vaccinated in May. Stadium management company ASM and stadium concessionaire Levy also have implemented mandatory vaccinations for all full-time staff at Allegiant Stadium. One Olympic sport that has had two of its most high-profile stars speak about Tokyo preparations is women’s tennis. While the sport overall in the Games is not seen as one of the most visible, the lure of winning a gold medal in addition to a Grand Slam has often been incentive for top players looking to equal Steffi Graf’s Golden Slam achievement in 1988. “We recognize that we are living and operating in an uncertain time and it is likely that mid-September will be just the first milestone for many important decisions pertaining to the regular season and the NCAA basketball championships,” Gavitt’s statement read. “While circumstances may warrant flexibility resulting in a different and perhaps imperfect season, the ultimate goal is to safely provide student-athletes and teams with a great college basketball experience.” All told, there have been more than 100 cancellations this season in college football — and we aren’t even at the postseason yet. The LA Bowl, scheduled to have its inaugural contest later this month, has been canceled and joins 10 other games sidelined by COVID-19: the Bahamas, Celebration, Fenway, Hawai’i, Holiday, Las Vegas, Motor City, Pinstripe, Redbox and Sun bowls. The New Mexico Bowl has not been canceled but it will not be held in New Mexico, temporarily relocating to Frisco, Texas. The other NFL team that has a stadium entrance policy, the New Orleans Saints, is not as strict as the Raiders; because of a city order, fans entering the Caesars Superdome must have either proof of a single vaccination dose or a negative COVID-19 test. But even with that less-strict policy, the Saints said Thursday in a statement they have received “less than 120 requests for ticket refunds” because of fans who refuse to adhere to the policy. The Saints said they do plan to refund season tickets for fans , meaning some now face a decision: Get vaccinated, or lose tickets they’ve had for years knowing the wait list that exists to purchase tickets in the first place. IF officials and referees will be asked to begin their journey to the Games 14 days in advance by monitoring their temperature and health daily. They will then require proof of a negative test within 72 hours of leaving for Japan via a PCR, LAMP or antigen test; a negative test at the airport in Tokyo upon arrival; and a negative test before departure to their home country. The group has also been advised not to take public transportation while in Tokyo and will have to provide an activity log outlining where they intend to be at all times and who they plan to be in contact with for contact tracing purposes. While it may be less of a concern for officials and judges, the playbook also notes that athletes should be supported by clapping, not by singing or chanting, which may factor into future recommendations for spectators if they are allowed. The Olympics and Paralympics will involve 15,400 athletes from more than 200 nations. Tens of thousands of officials, judges, sponsors, media, VIPs and broadcasters will also be on hand, although whether that will be streamlined for incoming countries has not been officially announced given the hospitality venues that many national Olympic committees operate on site. Texas’ Royal-Memorial Stadium holds about 100,000 and even with limited capacity, the school said it expects to offer all season-ticket holders a chance to get tickets. Both leagues also are already preparing fans and everyone associated with the NBA and NHL for the idea that if you thought the 2019–2020 season was unusual, there still is no guarantee that anything about a future 2020–2021 season will be normal. Five teams alone on Thursday had to announce that they have had a positive test within their facility: Eagles, Chiefs, Texans, Bears and Colts. Thursday night’s game between the Packers and 49ers was played with both teams missing players after positive tests with San Francisco alone having three other players having to sit out because they were considered “high-risk close contacts.” Since Monday, 13 NFL teams have placed 33 players on reserve lists for COVID-19. “This wasn’t a game, this wasn’t an event, this was truly a movement,” Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director and Tampa Bay Host Committee President and CEO Rob Higgins said, mentioning how the region had to adjust from showcasing itself for the first time since 2009 to turning the event into a different type of hosting experience. “It’s been incredible the adjustments that have been made. There are going to be other cities with bigger stadiums and bigger hotels and bigger regions. I’m biased, but none of them have a bigger heart and I think that’s what we got a chance to showcase.” The 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta on Sunday will feature a HBCU-themed basketball court. March 4, 2021 “The biggest challenges is the countermeasures against COVID-19,” she said. “Nobody can foresee how the situation will be this summer.” “I don’t even know why we’re having an All-Star Game,” Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said after a 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, sparking a cascading list of players who echoed his sentiments. “The committee spent considerable time if they should weigh in on some formal or informal way in this environment,” NCAA Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said during a recent episode of the SportsTravel Podcast . “Ultimately, they decided not to do that. … What the tournament committee can’t control is before , only upon inclusion and arrival will be our responsibility. Whatever happens before has to be decided at the conference level.” But with the proposal ensuring that non-Power 5 conference champions will be part of the postseason and giving all conferences the chance to get more teams into the playoff than ever before, one of the biggest things to watch in the future will be not if it gets approved, but if the CFP waits until 2026 to implement changes or goes with the new proposal a few years earlier. Still, Hirshland said “we are more optimistic than ever in hoping Team USA athletes will be readily and easily vaccinated before the Games. This is great news and we’re feeling quite positive about the news that we’re seeing around the United States in regard to vaccines.” “Over the past year, we have witnessed event hosts in the U.S. and around the world forced to make similar, and very hard, decisions,” USOPC Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland said. “The grief, frustration and disappointment being felt by all whose plans have been ruined is understandable. It is truly sad that the families, friends and fans from around the world, who help make the Games a global celebration, will not be able to attend. We can only try to imagine the weight of the responsibility felt by the hosts — along with the IOC and IPC — to offer the participants and the host community the safest possible environment, and we acknowledge that safety has to be the priority.” Part of the fabric for more than a decade has been its one-off events each season bringing the game to new outdoor venues. From the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo played in a picturesque snowfall to recent games held at historic venues such as Fenway Park and the Cotton Bowl, the league has consistently expanded its footprint for outdoor games, sometimes having more than one per season. “In view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County — with one of the nation’s highest infection rates — we believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the COVID-19 situation here,” reads the letter acquired by Phoenix TV station KPNX . “This position is based on public data from University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by Mid-March.” NASCAR has assive venues throughout the country so the ability to have a solid amount of fans in attendance while still maintaining social distancing is possible. The Cup season in 2020 did go on hiatus like every other major professional sport, but it was one of the first to return to action with fans slowly allowed into venues in restricted numbers. And even before racing in person was resumed, NASCAR capitalized on iRacing to surprising television audiences that have turned it into a broadcast complement each week this season in addition to the real-life racing. July 27 to start training camps is 47 days prior to Sunday of Week 1 of the regular season, as allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. The league told teams to plan for fan events and league-wide practices on July 31 after a 2020 in which training camps were closed off not only to fans, but just about anyone outside of players, coaches and essential staffers to try and keep COVID-19 from breaking out among teams. The venue was home to the start of the World Series on Tuesday night — the eighth time in MLB history that a stadium hosted the Fall Classic in its inaugural season — but not because of the Rangers. Instead, a restricted number of fans, 11,500 overall, watched the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, whose players and families are being housed in a protective bubble from COVID-19, play in Game 1 in the spotlight event of Major League Baseball’s most unusual season. Given the drawn-out process that resulted in no spectators in Tokyo this summer for the rescheduled Olympic Summer Games, the quick turnaround to the upcoming Winter Games — along with a multitude of issues, both health-related and political — could likely result in the banning of all foreign spectators for a second consecutive Olympics. “We had no choice but to arrive at the no-spectator decision,” she said. “We postponed and postponed, one after another. I have done some soul-searching about that.” Bach was more upbeat upon arrival in Tokyo, saying “Finally we are here. I have been longing for this day for more than one year.” Thursday’s Games Houston at Detroit: No fans allowed Washington at Dallas: An unspecified number of fans are allowed Sunday’s Games Las Vegas at Atlanta: A limited number of fans are allowed Miami at N.Y. Jets: No fans allowed N.Y. Giants at Cincinnati: Up to 12,000 fans allowed Tennessee at Indianapolis: Up to 12,500 fans allowed L.A. Chargers at Buffalo: No fans allowed Cleveland at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans allowed Arizona at New England: No fans allowed Carolina at Minnesota: No fans allowed New Orleans at Denver: No fans allowed San Francisco at L.A. Rams: No fans allowed Kansas City at Tampa Bay: Up to 16,000 fans allowed Chicago at Green Bay: Up to 500 employees and family members are allowed Monday’s Game Seattle at Philadelphia: No fans allowed Tuesday’s Game Baltimore at Pittsburgh: No fans allowed The NFL is entering the danger zone part of its season. With team byes having wrapped up, it will be a mathematical difficulty to reschedule games should any coronavirus outbreaks happen on a team without extending the regular season a week. Several high-profile coaches, though, have made it clear they will not stop raising the issue of inequality no matter the number of statements that Emmert puts out. Several teams including the New York Giants, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are offering refunds for season ticket holders as teams prepare for reduced capacities this season. The Green Bay Packers announced they would look to reduce the capacity at Lambeau Field and anybody who is allowed in the stands will be required to wear face masks. What the NHL was hoping would be a big weekend for the league on social media came true — but not in the way the league was striving for on Saturday afternoon. Teams throughout the CWS were not allowed to interact off the field in an official capacity, with media sessions held via Zoom and team practices closed. But attendance for the games have been at full capacity and general social interactions have been unrestricted as per local and state rules. The first of the Power 5 Conferences to announce that it would not play fall sports has reversed course, announcing that football will begin on the weekend of October 23–24. The decision, following weeks of coaches and players applying pressure on the league’s university leaders via social media, comes as the conference’s leadership officially says the decision was made thanks to the ability to secure daily antigen testing for all athletes, coaches, trainers and individuals on the field for practices and games. After the group stage, the round of 16 will be July 25–28 followed by the quarterfinals on July 30–August 1, semifinals on August 5–6 and championship on August 11. The group stage games will count toward the MLS regular season standings. MLS previously canceled its All-Star Game against the Liga MX All-Stars in Los Angeles as well as two other intra-league competitions between it and Mexico’s top league, the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup. Jackson says he suffered from fatigue both times he caught the virus and slept a lot. Jackson is not worried about long-term health consequences, saying he slept a lot both times he has contracted COVID. Jackson was one of 20 Ravens who spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list last season, as the Ravens endured an outbreak during which at least one player tested positive on 10 consecutive days in November, forcing the team’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed nearly a full week. • The National Lacrosse League has announced that it will not continue its 2019­–2020 season. The indoor lacrosse league had suspended its regular season on March 12 and announced the cancellation of its regular season on April 6. The new announcement will eliminate a postseason or the crowing of a champion. Organizers now have to deal with complaints from players who are forced into hard quarantine with no outside time. Many of them have taken to social media, some complaining about food options and others humorously showing themselves using beds stacked against walls as a backboard to get some practice shots in. Bernard Tomic’s girlfriend, Vanessa Sierra , has been criticized after complaining that the food served at their quarantine hotel room was cold, adding on her YouTube channel that “I don’t wash my own hair. I’ve never washed my own hair. It’s just not something that I do. I normally have hairdressers that do it twice a week for me. This is the situation that we’re dealing with. I can’t wait to get out of quarantine just so I can get my hair done.” The WTA Tour will restart its season August 3 with the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy. After its swing into the United States for the tournaments in New York, the tour will go back to Europe with events in Turkey, Spain, Italy and then the French Open. The WTA Tour’s schedule release extends through the end of the year with a full swing through Asia during the fall. “With the health and safety of the division’s student-athletes, coaches, athletics administrators and communities as its priority, the Division III Presidents Council made the decision Wednesday to cancel the championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related administrative and financial challenges,” the statement read. Nearly every Division III athletic conference had already decided to cancel or postpone fall competition, making it a relatively easy decision. Only a few days after two Pac-12 schools, Oregon and Oregon State, announced that local health orders would mandate either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend football, the home to one of the Southeastern Conference’s most rabid fan bases has done the same. Between the World Cup ski season as well as bobsled, luge and skeleton, measures are being implemented by international federations to try and keep athletes from being exposed to COVID-19. And while the conventional wisdom is that the risk of infection is lower for outdoor sports compared to indoor sports, that does not mean the concerns are any less. The mounting scale of the problem was illustrated on Tuesday when the Premier League announced a record 18 new positive tests among players and staff from tests conducted last week, the highest in a single round of testing since the season began in August. The league does one round of tests each week while many other teams do a second round at their own cost. Runners traveling to New York will be expected to adhere to federal, state, and local guidelines including pre-travel testing and quarantine requirements. NYRR’s guidelines will include social distancing, elimination of touchpoints, enhanced health and safety protocols, and testing and tracing. Runners will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of a complete vaccination series prior to running. News that rocked the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday was reversed on Friday as the University of Alabama announced that coach Nick Saban tested negative for COVID-19 and may be able to be on the sidelines Saturday night when the No. 2-ranked Tide host No. 3 Georgia in what will be the biggest college football game of the season so far. And ahead of Saturday’s quarterfinal in Rome between England and Ukraine, England fans in the UK who had tickets for the game have seen them cancelled at the request of the Italian government, which feared that fans would travel to Italy for the match and ignore a five-day COVID quarantine period. Fans who had bought tickets for the match before June 28 were given a deadline of 9 p.m. Thursday to transfer the tickets to friends or UK nationals living in Italy. After that their tickets were withdrawn, refunded and put back on general sale. “Perseverance probably is the one word that describes this team the best in terms of what they’ve had to overcome all season long to go undefeated and win a championship,” said Alabama Coach Nick Saban , who missed his team’s regular-season finale against Auburn because he tested positive for COVID-19. The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers are eligible to report as early as July 21 since they play the Hall of Fame Game on August 5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can report as early as July 24 due to them playing in the regular-season opener on September 9 against Dallas. Every team has been given approval to have their stadiums open 100 percent when the regular season starts. For the leagues that will hold conference tournaments, some are moving the event. The Atlantic 10 Conference will have its postseason tournament co-hosted by VCU and Richmond in Virginia instead of Barclays Center in Brooklyn because of COVID restrictions involving fans in New York City; the Colonial Athletic Association will move its event from Washington, D.C., to James Madison University in Virginia because of the additional space at the venue. “This model, in conjunction with the bowls, gives college football an opportunity to reassert ownership of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in a really powerful way,” Swarbrick said. “That’s such an important part of the tradition of college football and this allows us to reassert that.” The U.S. Open Series returns for its 18th season in 2021 with its largest schedule since 2013 featuring nine WTA and ATP Tour events be held over six weeks, just one year after all but one tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic. The concerns about having teams miss games because of COVID-19 is real. And on the morning the NFL released a 30-minute video explaining all of its various rules and protocols to protect players and staffers from the coronavirus, there were multiple teams Monday that reported having positive tests including two on the Arizona Cardinals and one on the Baltimore Ravens, Marlon Humphrey , who reported that he tested positive the day after playing for his team against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Toronto play at BMO Field against Orlando City on July 17 and Montreal will host FC Cincinnati that same day in the first home games for either team since the opening weeks of the 2020 campaign. Toronto and Montreal will be permitted to have fans with 7,000 in Toronto and 5,000 in Montreal. What started with videos of the “weight room” got Congressional attention from 36 House Democrats, even raising the disparity between the use of the “March Madness” trademark. The NHL and NHLPA sent memos to teams on Saturday advising them to adhere to guidelines agreed to for this season including wearing masks, even if individuals have been vaccinated, and not going to restaurants. Coaches were reminded not to pull down their masks to talk to players or officials during games, something that NHL coaches — well, coaches in pretty much every collegiate and pro sport — have been known to do. “Under normal circumstances, I don’t think I’d ever miss a race, but definitely the Corey LaJoie piece, how he’s not sick and he’s not here today, is very, very frightening,” said Christopher Bell , who is on the cusp of beginning his first championship bid. The NBA had to cancel a game on Sunday night between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics because of health and safety protocols that left the Heat with less than the minimum eight players available. Even if the Heat had been fully healthy, the game was under a cloud because the Celtics would have only had eight players healthy themselves after star Jayson Tatum tested positive, forcing several others to be ruled out. The Indianapolis 500 will have 25 percent of capacity, announced Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with face coverings required for all attendees with ticket sales stopped after July 24. “The decision to flip-flop the championships was based on the fact that we had VCU available because they already had reserved their building because they were going to host the women,” Atlantic-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said . “We didn’t have Richmond’s facility, nor was that brought up in our administrative call when this concept got brought to the forefront about 10 days ago.” It was only the latest in a series of games that have been postponed as teams undergo regular testing that reveals outbreaks within their programs. Memphis, which started the season with a home win on September 5, has not played since after multiple players tested positive in the wake of its victory. The Tigers have already canceled its scheduled game for September 25 against UTSA following a cancellation against Purdue and postponement against Houston; as is befitting this season, as Memphis announced a cancellation this week, it also announced in the same release that it has added a game on November 21 against Stephen F. Austin. Residents in the state of Victoria may only leave home for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping and family care. There remains the chance that the championship matches at the end of the tournament would still be able to have fans in attendance. The Canadian Football League, which postponed its 2020 season because of the pandemic, said its 2021 kickoff will be on August 5, two months later than planned, with only 14 games instead of 18. Sounds about right for the NBA, NHL or any sports organization this year and into 2021. “I’m as concerned as I’ve ever been, because we have three or four guys out with COVID and we have a couple staff members that have been out with COVID here recently,” Smart said on Monday. “People are talking about vaccinations, well these are people that are vaccinated. We’re talking about breakthroughs and so that concerns you not only for the players on your team that are unvaccinated, that are playing and not playing, because we want everybody to be safe. But it concerns me for the players that are vaccinated that we could lose them.” “Welcoming the PGA Championship to San Francisco is the high point of a very unusual year. We are looking forward to sharing the beauty of TPC Harding Park and San Francisco with the players, the media and viewers all over the world,” said Joe D’Alessandro , president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association , the official destination marketing organization. The 2021 CFP will have semifinals at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl before the title game in Indianapolis, which hosted last month’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at the Green Bay Packers, it would be the first team to play at home in the Super Bowl. That would certainly bring even more attention on two pieces of the Super Bowl LV planning: Stadium capacity and ticket prices. 36 teams are currently paused; 10 canceled their season; 50 are now out of quarantine. Tokyo’s preparations have continued unabated, but with some slight adjustments. The Olympic torch relay will start March 25 but Tokyo 2020 has asked those who attend parts of the event to not cheer or shout and wear masks at all times. “Please cheer by clapping your hands,” Yukihiko Nunomura , a senior member of the organizing committee, said. The Heat are also one of four teams along with Portland, New Orleans and Atlanta to acknowledge that some players and staff members have started the vaccination process. Twelve Trail Blazers players have received their first dose of the vaccine along with 14 Atlanta Hawks players and dozens of eligible members of the Pelicans organization, including multiple players. The 2022 Super Bowl will be at the new SoFi Stadium, which opened this year without fans in attendance for Los Angeles Rams and L.A. Chargers games. Mentioned throughout the leadup to Super Bowl 55 was that it was originally awarded to Los Angeles, but a one-year delay in the opening of SoFi Stadium because of torrential rainfall in 2017 meant Sunday’s game ended up in Tampa Bay instead. The Stronach Group owns Pimlico and in a statement, Chairman and President Belinda Stronach said, “While we had hoped to be able to welcome fans as we have for the past 145 years, the health and safety of our guests, horsemen, riders, team members and the community at large is, and will always be, our top priority.” Senior IOC member Richard Pound told a British newspaper that “barring Armageddon” it will take place. IOC Vice President John Coates said even if Japan was still in a state of emergency, “absolutely yes” that the Olympics would go on. IOC President Thomas Bach added “everyone in the Olympic community” needs to make sacrifices, a comment that drew harsh feedback from many in the Japanese public who pointed out the IOC is booked to take up many of Tokyo’s five-star hotels during the Games. “I really, right now, I don’t care about the All-Star Game,” Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said the night after James’ comments. “I got zero energy, zero excitement.” “He wanted to have a conversation. I completely understand why Tony would want to have a conversation about this topic. We’ve actually had a preliminary kind of conversation, and there will be more substantive conversations about that,” said Manfred, who also said he was looking forward to full stadiums in the summer . “I am talking to various constituencies within the game and I’m just not going beyond that in terms of what I would consider or not consider.” The Big 12 Conference became the latest of the Power 5 conferences to adjust its football schedules, announcing it will play nine conference games and have one non-conference home game for each school. Chris Del Conte said in the message that the school is working with the governor’s office and will follow state guidelines on social distancing. The Big 12 Conference has not made any announcements on the fate of college football yet; the Longhorns are scheduled to open on September 5 at home against South Florida. Though all the calls for another postponement or outright cancellation have received lots of attention, the simple fact is the IOC has billions of dollars at stake which is providing more than enough motivation to make sure the event is held. Approximately 75 percent of the IOC’s revenues come from worldwide broadcast rights to the Games — its single largest source of income is its TV deal with NBC — and another 18 percent comes from worldwide sponsorships. Reports estimate that the IOC will make up to $3 billion in TV rights regardless if fans are in attendance but that it would lose up to $4 billion if the Games were canceled. NASCAR has been running in front of a restricted number of fans at each of its tracks this season and at several other races dating to last season’s resumption of the schedule after a pandemic-enforced shutdown, but the Pocono weekend is — as of now — scheduled to be its first in front of a full house. “We are planning to play the games when they’re scheduled,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told ESPN . “We’ve said all along that we will be ready for any circumstance, and we will. But if one or both teams are not available and have to postpone a bowl game or the championship game, we will do it.” The other main question from media on a conference call was the issue of vaccines and whether the USOPC will encourage athletes to be vaccinated before Tokyo. Neither Lyons nor Hirshland would go so far as to say it would be mandated of athletes, recognizing there are a multitude of privacy issues that would complicate any such policy. The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to increase testing for fully vaccinated players from every 14 days to every seven days, a concession made by the league although the NFLPA has asked for daily testing to resume as was the case last season. Fully vaccinated players will be offered the option of testing twice a week if they choose. A Wembley Stadium spokesperson said during the game that “there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium” but a later statement acknowledged “a small group of people got into the stadium.” World Rugby cited the “challenging global COVID-19 landscape” for its recommendation to delay the tournament, scheduled to start September 18. Polling in Japan also shows a wide majority of people want the Games to be called off. Most of the opposition seems to stem from the spiraling costs — at least $15 billion of mostly taxpayer money, although some estimates suggest it could be higher. Muto said 3.64 million tickets were already sold to Japanese residents, 900,000 more than the seats likely to be available. That will mean a lottery to see who can attend. The final TV ratings for the men’s tournament may not improve after this weekend’s Final Four. While there is the talking point of Gonzaga’s quest to be the first unbeaten national champ since Indiana in 1976, this is the first time in tournament history that all four teams are from west of the Mississippi River. UCLA, which is the most surprising team still remaining in Indianapolis, also is the biggest brand name of the remaining four teams. There will be heavy regional interest in the two semifinals — UCLA vs. Gonzaga in the West and Baylor vs. Arkansas in the Southeast — but nationally, the tournament has been hurt by the absence of powerhouses such as Duke and Kentucky from the tournament field as well as early exits for other big names such as Michigan State and North Carolina. “I can do absolutely everything here,” Saban said from his home during a remote press conference. “I’ll have the same exact routine. … I didn’t leave the country or anything and we have this technology.” Because of the reduced field size, all 16 teams will be selected as at-large participants, and there will be no automatic qualifiers for the NIT. Since 2017, all regular-season champions who didn’t win their conference tournament received an automatic bid to the NIT, with the rest of the field filled by at-large selections. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association also hosts the Rose Bowl Game each January 1. The planning for this year’s Rose Bowl Game, which will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is still ongoing. While the hope is obviously that the torch relay goes off without issues, the simple fact is the planning for Tokyo has been full of issues even before the pandemic. A bribery scandal tied to the bid in 2013 forced the resignation two years ago of Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda , who denied any wrongdoing. Last month, former organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori was forced to resign after making sexist comments about women and replaced by Hashimoto, who referenced the past when also looking ahead for unpredictable problems that await. Pinnick has downgraded the conflict, calling the decision to avoid competing at the same time as the Olympics as “absurd.” In his view, “we can add one more month every four years to organize the most beautiful competition in the world and find ways to protect the players, clubs, leagues, federations and Confederation’s interests and this is neither irrational nor absurd.” The NFL has told teams that they could be forced to forfeit games this season if they have an outbreak attributable to unvaccinated players or staffers as part of several inducements to encourage vaccinations. The league says more than 90 percent of players have either begun or concluded the vaccination process. Twenty-seven teams are above 85 percent and nine teams have more than 95 percent vaccination. Canada’s national team won its opening game over Martinique, although the country’s Major League Soccer teams have not yet played at home. But one of those teams, CF Montreal, announced after last Wednesday’s game that it would be returning home to train recently for the first time since the pandemic started. Bristol Motor Speedway Executive VP and General Manager Jerry Caldwell said the decision to postpone until Monday was reached after consultation with NASCAR officials, weather experts and local authorities. But postponing instead of canceling is keeping Caldwell’s anticipation for the event high. But even within each half of a release, there is an acceptance of the road ahead. The schedule for the second half of the season will be released during the latter part of the first half and will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not previously scheduled— as well as any games postponed that can reasonably be added to the second half. One thing that the NFL has also been doing is having fans in a few stadiums so far, although that number looks to be rising. With the Atlanta Falcons’ announcement that it plans to have 500 fans in attendance for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, that would make 11 out of the league’s 32 teams with plans to have fans so far this season. The Formula One season eventually started in Austria in July, with the calendar reduced to 17 races from the planned 22 and nearly all of the events in Europe and the Middle East. The postponement is an embarrassment to the IOC as the Opening Ceremony approaches on July 23, although organizers and the IOC have repeatedly said the Olympics will not be canceled. Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Hyogo prefecture will take the torch relay off public streets, at least the fifth time the torch has been rerouted and on Monday, the leader of Japan’s main opposition party said in Parliament said it was not possible to safely hold the Games. The length of the team’s stay in Florida will be contingent upon health and safety regulations as borders re-open in Canada. Muto did make the allowance that it was “not desirable to hold the Olympics without fans, but not out of the question,” which would be an economic punch in the gut — to put it mildly — to the host city. But it was also notable given the realization of the scale or what Tokyo and the IOC face when it comes to making sure that the Olympic Summer Games are held, finally, this summer. Bach’s comments on Thursday to the Kyodo News were along the same lines, saying “we have at this moment no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.” But, like Muto, Bach said the possibility exists of reducing the number of spectators. The Huskies finished 2-10 last season and are 6-30 in the past three seasons combined. The school is required to pay the ACC an exit fee of $17 million by 2026 after leaving to re-join the Big East in all sports other than football, men’s and women’s ice hockey and rowing. Saturday’s Games Buffalo at Denver: No fans allowed Carolina at Green Bay: No fans allowed All players and their team members — limited to a maximum of three — are staying at one hotel in London. While many prominent players traditionally have rented private houses near the Wimbledon grounds for the tournament, no exemptions have been allowed this year. “While we are disappointed that the Rose Bowl Game will not be played in front of spectators, we are pleased that we are still able to hold the game this year, continuing the 100-year plus tradition of ‘The Granddaddy of Them All,’” said David Eads , executive director and CEO of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. “We continue to work closely with health department officials and the Rose Bowl Stadium to provide the safest possible environment for our game participants.” The rate in Brazil is 204 infections per 100,000 over the same period — but the country’s 460,000 dead from COVID is the second-most in the world behind the United States. Still, the country will host the opening match on June 13. ESPN Brazil reported that Argentina players are furious over the decision. “I don’t have any sense that fans are going to be in our stadiums in large numbers for probably most, if not all, of the season,” he said, adding that he “can’t imagine a world where we would” require players to be vaccinated once made available to the broader public. Whether those statements mean the advertising and naming rights changes become permanent — more professional leagues seemingly would want to keep any advertising options open such as helmet ads at minimum, and fans reacted positively to this season’s revamped playoff format — will remain to be seen. But as the NBA has already faced multiple outbreaks on teams within a month of tipping off, the NHL will also have to resign itself to the fact that games may very well be canceled and players will test positive, as evidenced by the league’s first reporting of COVID-19 test results with 27 player positives during training camp and nine teams affected. The AAU Junior Olympic Games will be heading to Brevard County, Florida. Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis confirmed the news to Florida Today . “We’ve navigated through the first two months of this season under extremely challenging conditions,” Bettman said, “and we’ve been on this every day with medical experts, enhancing our protocols, and it’s gotten us to a better place.” “Current vaccination rates remain inadequate to provide community-level immunity,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said. “It is essential that member schools work in concert with federal, state and local public health officials to develop COVID-19 prevention and management strategies that make sense for them.” Face coverings will be required at tour events indoors, but the tour said in the memo “in accordance with CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals may gather in small groups without face coverings.” To be fair, Chicago State is not a national name for college basketball — and while Duke has said that its men’s team will not follow the women’s lead, there are two other nationally recognized programs that have paused its respective seasons and not for the first time. “I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred reportedly said. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory. But I do think it’s important as we look forward to 2021 to get back to the idea that live sports, they’re generally outdoors, at least our games. And it’s something that we can get back to.” Qualifying heat races for the Truck Series barely made a lap before mud caked the windshields and reduced visibility . What makes college basketball so different than football, of course, is that the game is much more than just Power 5 leagues. Part of the NCAA tournament’s annual attraction for casual fans is the chance to see Cinderella from one-bid leagues — such as the Big West — upset a higher seed. Vaccinations will not be required for athletes, although the IOC estimates 80 percent of the 11,000 athletes expected to compete at the Olympic Games will be vaccinated. They also expect 70 percent to 80 percent of media to be vaccinated. Dubi noted that countries that have seen recent COVD spikes, including India, have shown strong vaccination rates among their delegation. India expects 100 percent of its athletes to be vaccinated along with all 66 of its accredited journalists. Pfizer BioNTech has also donated 20,000 vaccine doses for Games participants from Japan, in addition to the current vaccination supply in the country. “I want to see that stadium full, I know the Bills want to see that stadium full. We want to return fans back to the stadium,” Poloncarz said last Tuesday . “That’s why the county supports returning all fans to the stadium and arena for this fall … We know there’s a way to do it. We know there’s a way to ensure it. That’s that all fans and staff are fully vaccinated. … We can then guarantee 70,000-plus people at the stadium.” For fans of many teams in the league, that allows the possibility to dream of impromptu revivals of traditional rivalries thought to be on hold this year such as USC-Notre Dame or BYU-Utah. But that comes with major caveats; sorry Trojans fans but Notre Dame’s schedule is booked solid. But BYU has only one game scheduled after Saturday so should Utah be in need of an opponent, that game could be thrown together. “This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said in a statement released by the university. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning. I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week. But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.” While obviously having an impact on all fall sports, football clearly has the biggest national impact. High-profile non-conference games such as Ohio State at Oregon, Penn State at Virginia Tech, Michigan at Washington and Notre Dame versus Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay are affected. Several other European divisions have moved to act in the face of mounting cases. France’s Ligue 1, which did not finish its 2019-20 season, will continue as will the Bundesliga in Germany, although authorities have issued a new ban on fans attending games. Wednesday’s group-stage finale between Germany and Hungary has also generated massive attention after UEFA said the city of Munich, where the match will be held, could not light up Allianz Arena in rainbow colors in support of LGBTQ rights because it would be against the organization’s rules about political and religious neutrality. Goodell and Dr. Allen Sills , the league’s chief medical officer, have indicated several protocols could remain beyond the pandemic and Goodell referenced “virtual is going to be part of our life” before the Super Bowl during his State of the League press conference last week. One of the biggest sporting events in the world will be held without spectators as the Indianapolis 500, which was rescheduled from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 in the hopes of being able to allow fans, announced that it will instead be held without spectators at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The decision to conduct the NIT in one geographic location was made with the interests of having a safe and healthy environment for all participants,” the NCAA said in a statement. USA Wrestling has announced that it will not send a team to compete at the 2020 Senior World Wrestling Championships set for Belgrade, Serbia, from December 12-20. The decision was reached by the NGB’s Executive Committee, which acts on behalf of the Board of Directors between Board meetings and unanimously approved a proposal not to participate in the Senior World Championships due to health and safety issues. A return to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026 was agreed upon as part of an extension of the NHL and NHLPA’s collective bargaining agreement — as long as the two groups, along with the IOC and International Ice Hockey Federation, were also able to come to an agreement. But NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman last month expressed hesitancy at having players go to Beijing because of health and safety concerns relating to COVID-19 The NBA estimated its revenue loss last season at $1.5 billion. While only a handful of teams started the 2020–2021 season with fans at games, by season’s end only the Oklahoma City Thunder had no fans in attendance at any point. The ACC will change the remainder of its football schedule to ensure that the top three contenders for the league’s championship game all play the same number of games — leaving both No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 4 Clemson without a game after this Saturday. Newly acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo positive after Saturday’s game against the Seattle Mariners. Rizzo joins catcher Gary Sanchez and starting pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery on the COVID-19 list in the past week. Rizzo, a cancer survivor, said in June he wanted to see more “data” before deciding whether to get vaccinated. The Scott Howson said that each of the league’s five divisions has been provided the opportunity to independently determine its own postseason format — only the Pacific Division will have a playoff tournament with the other four divisions determining its champion through regular-season play. One of the MAAC’s member schools is Marist College, which plays football in the Pioneer Football League since the MAAC does not sponsor the sport. Marist’s non-conference games against Georgetown, Cornell and Dartmouth had already been canceled, and Marist released a statement saying “it is presumed that the Red Foxes’ football season may be postponed barring significant improvements related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A decision regarding Marist’s football season is expected within the next few weeks.” The events are a perfect chance for teams to play multiple games in a short time span and many of the events are held in warm-weather locales that enjoy an added boost of economic impact from each tournament, whether three days or more. And with the added need for health and safety protocols for teams that would most likely be traveling long distances, how the schedules would end up has been one of the biggest rapid-reaction moves for markets. But between citywide health orders that will make mask-wearing mandatory at outdoor venues in Los Angeles including SoFi Stadium, Banc of California Stadium, the Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium, to the mandatory vaccination policy announced by the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night, vaccination incentives for fans to attend sporting events this fall are trending more toward requirements as cases continue to surge in the U.S. — regardless of whether that’s what fans want. Durant, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March while recovering from Achilles surgery, was around a team employee before the game with neither wearing masks. The employee first registered an inconclusive test and while it was being reviewed, Durant was allowed to play. But the employee then was confirmed to have a positive test and Durant was taken out during the next timeout. There were 33 player positives during COVID testing ahead of and during regular season. COVID testing will continue throughout the season and while teams are hopeful that as vaccinations increase into the summer that it will lead to increased capacity at ballparks, health and safety protocols for MLB players that existed last season will remain in place at least to start the 2021 season. MLB, like every other pro league, will not mandate vaccinations of players but at the same time is trying to encourage it as much as possible by also letting teams and players know what protocols will be relaxed once a team reaches 85 percent percent of its Tier 1 individuals being vaccinated. Training camps for teams in phase 3 of the league’s return to play began July 3 ahead of the resumption of games. While the league has not yet made it official, multiple reports have indicated that the two hub cities that will host games in the restart plan — which has 24 teams competing in an expanded playoff formate — will be Edmonton and Toronto . “My heart breaks for our athletes, as nobody is more affected by this decision than they are,” said Veronica Carlson , Executive Committee member and chairperson of the USA Wrestling Athlete Advisory Committee. “In the same breath, abstaining from the 2020 World Championships is the right decision. I am proud that the athlete voice was solicited and considered through every step of this process. In choosing to make this decision now, versus delaying it, the athletes have time to recover and refocus on what is most important — the 2021 Olympic Games.” LSU announced Tuesday morning that it will require all Tiger Stadium guests 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entry. The school says the decision comes after consultation with Governor John Bel Edwards , LSU President William F. Tate IV , LSU’s Board of Supervisors, Tiger Athletic Foundation and Director of Athletics Scott Woodward . That’s not to say the teams won’t play; they are already scheduled to meet in the AAC championship game on December 19. The hopes are high for the league that the Bearcats would be able to play the game; the Hurricane just hope they have a game to play given that this is the eighth weekend a game on their schedule has been either postponed or rescheduled. Only four of the league’s 11 teams will end up a full eight-game season. To try and get games right away, fans will see mini-tournaments popping up throughout the country — many of them four-team events whether on campus or in a locale where the competing programs are able to handle health and safety protocols in a consistent fashion. The Mohegan Sun in Connecticut is reportedly going to be the site for several of those four-team events, in effect serving as a kickoff venue for the sport under a modified bubble concept, which will only gain traction and attention should it result in strong competition with clean testing results, especially in the light of college football postponements and many other controversies that have come with not having a sealed bubble environment. The two high-profile postponements brought college football’s difficulties in pulling off a season in the COVID-19 era back to light. While the National Football League has taken most of the headlines for the amount of schedule shuffling linked to positive COVID-19 tests on multiple teams, somewhat lost the past week was that college football’s schedule went off almost completely as planned with only two postponements — one of them included Florida Atlantic, whose coach confirmed that his team has 18 players and nine staffers currently dealing with the coronavirus. Tate earlier this month said all LSU students will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccines or get tested for the virus once the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine, which happened on Monday. New Orleans was the first southern city to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all outdoor gatherings and indoor venues of more than 500 people, including games for Tulane football and the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome. The past weekend had a little bit of everything in college football — on the field, three Sun Belt Conference teams beat teams from the Big 12 Conference among the games that were played. Of the Power 5 conferences that are in action this fall, the ACC and Big 12 were the ones that started the season over the weekend, while the SEC will not start until September 26. The NBA protocols include daily testing. Budenholzer said over the weekend the Bucks were one of the NBA teams who had at least 80 percent of players and staffers receive vaccinations. Saturday’s NCAA Men’s Tournament first-round game between Oregon and VCU has been declared a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols within VCU’s program, the NCAA announced hours before tipoff of what was going to be the final game of Saturday’s schedule. Players can be hesitant to make excuses, but the facts are clear: Of the four teams that were in the Orlando bubble the longest — the Lakers, Heat, Nuggets and Celtics — only the Nuggets advanced to the conference semifinals and even then, Denver was eliminated in four games by Phoenix on Sunday to complete a playoff run that was highlighted by injuries to several players including star guard Jamal Murray . The teams not allowing fans this season are the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Vikings, Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The Packers at the start of the year said they would go without fans for two games, then extended that decision further; Green Bay is located in Brown County, Wisconsin, where the positive rate for COVID-19 hit 32.78 percent this week. The four races added include Turkey’s Istanbul Park on November 15, then races in Bahrain on November 29 and December 6 before the December 13 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, the latest finish to a season for Formula One since 1963. Then there is the case of Las Vegas, in which it’s not which site, but which conference. Sin City has started hosting 95 schools from the Pac-12, Mountain West, West Coast Conference, Big West Conference and Western Athletic Conference with the aim of having 10 tournaments — five men, five women — completed within 12 days. If not for the pandemic, it would have been possibly the greatest single week for a college basketball junkie to be in-person at … but no, there is no in-person attendance for any tournament. But part of the reason that New Zealand has been able to control COVID is because of its strict border controls. And that, in a tangential way, is why the Women’s Rugby World Cup scheduled for later this year will be postponed to 2022. Additionally, all fall sport student-athletes will receive both an additional year of eligibility and an additional year in which to complete it through a blanket waiver. Well, open for some things. But Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms admitted on Tuesday that she also has major concerns about the event, specifically the idea of fans coming to town for events. Bottoms said there will be “no NBA sanctioned events open to the public” and the city strongly encourages local businesses “not to host events in the city related to this game.” Before the regular season will begin in Los Angeles, first the Dodgers will have fans on hand at its spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona. And the few tickets that are available to the public are already gone — L.A. sold out its games in less than two hours. Demand is high throughout the Cactus League’s 15 teams. Four of them — the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies —  have all sold out their entire spring training inventory with fans socially distanced. There are 15 teams in the National Football League allowing fans, with more than 8,000 on hand for Tuesday night’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans — delayed because of an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Titans franchise that delayed the game. The department of public health did tell the Warriors that should the city reach the state’s “yellow tier” of re-opening in the future, they would consider the possibility of allowing up to 25% capacity for home games. The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for 2021 training camp and preseason, per source. Leagues have also been using incentives to encourage players to get their shots, with the easing of the strict protocols in place for players after negotiations between the leagues and their respective players’ associations. With NBA and NHL seasons in the postseason, teams were able to ease up on some of the protocols at the end of the regular season; Major League Baseball has seen success with more than half of its teams getting to the 85 percent threshold for easing protocols. “We believe the risks of infections inside venues would be lowest by holding the event with no fans,” Omi said in a report, which was compiled by a group of 26 experts led by Omi, a former World Health Organization official. “We hope we keep moving in the right direction,” he said. “Obviously, the key for us at some point in time for normalcy is having fans in our building and being able to host fans in our buildings not in limited numbers but in large numbers. The world keeps changing and we’re changing with it and hopefully we’ll be able to do that sooner than later.” The men’s tournament was having success with keeping positives almost completely out of its controlled environment; NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said on Friday through 9,100 COVID-19 tests, only eight between Tier 1, 2 and 3 personnel combined had come up positive. Lyons and Hirshland also faced questions about the USOPC’s stance ahead of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Bejing. Several lawmakers have said they would like to see the U.S. boycott the Games because of human rights issues surrounding China. The trials had been scheduled for the arena that is home to the St. Louis Blues for the competition that will be staged June 24–27. The move to the dome, which used to be home to the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, will also allow the event to coincide with the USA Gymnastics Championships, and the National Congress and Trade Show. Vancouver’s issues began on Tuesday with one player pulled from practice before another player joined the NHL’s COVID-19 list on Thursday. Within 24 hours, five more players had been added to the list and it has now slowed since. ESPN reported that some players are symptomatic with a few in “rough shape” and that the P.1 variant of COVID-19, a more infectious variant first found in Brazil, has been found among several of the cases. That all said, there is a full schedule of games this weekend planned. Nine teams that host games this weekend will have fans in some quantity, ranging from the limited numbers in Atlanta and — for the first time — Washington, to the now-traditional crowd of up to 25,000 for the Dallas Cowboys. Continuing to be of interest is not just the numbers of fans that teams will allow into the stadiums but whether or not those quantities are all sold; while the Kansas City Chiefs have allowed up to 16,045 fans at home games all season, the team is averaging 13,466 this season. The Jacksonville Jaguars are averaging 15,058 despite the ability to host up to 16,791 fans; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were allowed to host up to 16,000 fans for its October 18 game against the Green Bay Packers but only had 15,540 in attendance. The Buccaneers are expected to allow another 16,000 fans in attendance for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. “We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody,” IOC president Thomas Bach said. “We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices. But we have also said that the first principle is safety. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not reach this conclusion lightly.” Sunday’s Games L.A. Rams at Miami: The Dolphins are allowing up to 13,000 fans in attendance N.Y. Jets at Kansas City: The Chiefs are allowing up to 16,700 fans in attendance Minnesota at Green Bay: The Packers are currently not allowing fans in attendance Indianapolis at Detroit: The Lions will allow up to 500 friends and family members of players in attendance Las Vegas at Cleveland: The Browns are allowing up to 12,000 fans in attendance Tennessee at Cincinnati: The Bengals are allowing up to 12,000 fans in attendance New England at Buffalo: The Bills are currently not allowing fans in attendance L.A. Chargers at Denver: The Broncos are allowing up to 5,700 fans in attendance San Francisco at Seattle: The Seahawks are currently not allowing fans in attendance New Orleans at Chicago: The Bears are currently not allowing fans in attendance Dallas at Philadelphia: The Eagles are allowing up to 7,500 fans in attendance The Saints’ next home game is October 25. New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell released her own statement, saying “while the Saints’ request for a special exception to the city’s COVID-19 guidelines remains under consideration, allowing 20K people in an indoor space presents significant public health concerns. At present, no NFL stadium in the country with a fixed-roof facility is allowing such an exception. We will continue to monitor the public health data, but cannot set an artificial timeline for how and when conditions may allow for the kind of special exemption being requested.” Along with daily testing, Big Ten athletes who test positive for COVID-19 will have to sit out for at least 21 days and have a series of comprehensive cardiac tests performed including a cardiac MRI. Any team with a positivity rate of more than 5 percent must stop practice and competition for at least seven days. How different will life by for vaccinated and unvaccinated players? From the memo that just went to clubs: June 16, 2021 The IIHF responded by saying it did not have a Plan B because it didn’t appear there was need for one until it was too late. CBS Sports reported last week that more than one in four coaches say there should not be conference tournaments this season. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo , who sits on a National Association of Basketball Coaches committee that has guided the sport this season, said this week that the group has “begun discussions about the questions surrounding the conference tournaments. ” “Whether it’s a sporting event, whether it’s a demonstration or any other large public gathering, there’s always somebody there who has COVID,” Tarrant County Health Director Dr. Vinny Taneja said before Thanksgiving. “No matter how hard you try, people are people. They’re there to celebrate, they’re there to have a good time. You’re going to have some spread occur.” Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said during his opening address on Monday’s media day that six of the league’s 14 football teams have reached 80 percent vaccinated rates, but “that number needs to grow and grow rapidly,” hinting that forfeits will happen this fall instead of rescheduling games like last fall. Among the additional guidelines for spectators: “We continue to work with the College Football Playoff and our collegiate partners to explore what this year’s college football season will look like amidst COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. While the safety and well-being of the student athletes, university personnel and fans is our top priority, we remain hopeful that the Granddaddy of Them All will take place on New Year’s Day,” said David Eads , executive director and chief executive officer of the Tournament of Roses. Two weeks after saying it would allow local fans to attend the Olympic Summer Games, organizers are about to backtrack officially on the policy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout Japan. According to the New York Post , Major League Baseball is working on a new TV deal with ESPN that would give the network exclusive rights to the first round of the playoffs — which does not exist. Not as if they haven’t agreed on a format or whether it’s a best-of-three games, or if it would be at a neutral site or one home field throughout. The first round of the playoffs literally does not exist. Notable coaches known to have tested positive for COVID-19 include Florida’s Dan Mullen , Florida State’s Mike Norvell , Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin and Kansas’ Les Miles . Alabama’s Nick Saban was cleared to coach the Crimson Tide on Saturday, three days after a false positive test. The Raiders said Monday night that fans can attend games without a mask if they can show proof of vaccination through CLEAR’s free mobile app and Health Pass feature. The policy will take effect for the season opener on September 13 against the Baltimore Ravens. The Raiders will offer the opportunity for fans to receive vaccinations at Allegiant Stadium prior to home games, permitting newly vaccinated fans to enter wearing a mask. The Miami Heat are the latest NBA team to bring back some fans to home games — with help from some COVID-19-sniffing dogs. Teams also reportedly have been told they must file weekly reports on employee vaccination numbers with the league. The league has also told clubs that it should educate employees on the work-related benefits of vaccination, highlighted by the ability to access the football-only areas of the facility, as well as bypass testing, tracking device and quarantine requirements. The attendance was 40 percent of capacity, which was the figure deemed safe in the pandemic. But the sheer number of fans was another benchmark in the return to normalcy for sports events — even with the increased capacity at NBA games being marred by a series of idiotic fans abusing players. While the CFP is definitely better than its forerunners in determining a national champion — the less said about the BCS, the better ­— the imbalance between dominant programs and those who start the season knowing they have no chance has only grown. Alabama and Clemson have made the CFP six times in seven years while Ohio State and Oklahoma have made it four times apiece, taking up a combined 71 percent of the playoff spots in that time span. The contact tracing string began in Boston with a mix of positive tests and players ruled ineligible for contact tracing, which then affected Washington since it had played Boston in its most recent game, before going to the Suns since their most recent game was against the Wizards. Two games scheduled for Friday, Phoenix against Golden State and Washington vs. Detroit, have already been postponed. Along with the trio of Boston, Washington and Phoenix, other teams that have had issues include Miami, Philadelphia and Chicago. Lacob said the Warriors will lose an estimated $200 million this season with not having had fans yet this season at home games. As a trained epidemiologist, he also said the recovery process throughout the United States — while feeling slow to millions who have been cooped up in small homes and apartments the past year-plus — has been “pretty damn good.” While Japan has attributed about 8,700 deaths to COVID-19 and handled the virus better than most countries, polls about the Games’ viability this summer has shown widespread skepticism about hosting the event with up to 80% opposing the Games being held. The torch relay starting Thursday will feature 10,000 runners crisscrossing Japan to reach the opening ceremony on July 23. Organizers are asking crowds to stay away and are reserving the right to stop or reroute the relay. Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa last week said all athletes might need to be tested daily during the Olympics and Hashimoto confirmed on Wednesday that “in principle, testing will be daily.” Early plans called for tests every four days in the organizers’ “Playbook,” which will be updated by the end of this month; a final edition of the guide with rules for 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and tens of thousands of judges, officials, media and broadcasters when they enter Japan will be published in June. Staff members at each NFL team have been told vaccination is expected unless they have an approved religious or medical exemption since that is not collectively bargained. A two-day virtual league meeting last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said 30 of the 32 teams have reported vaccination rates of more than 90 percent among the Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff groups that work among football operations — with the other two teams over 85 percent. One team that did have to close its facility for all of Friday and cancel practice was the New England Patriots, who reportedly had another player test positive. The team was awaiting the results of a second test to confirm the positive ahead of Sunday’s schedule game against the Denver Broncos. Both teams have already have their off weeks and should any additional positives be recorded, that would force the NFL to face a difficult decision with its scheduling. When a team hits the threshold, some of the restrictions that are waived include the elimination of mask-wearing and the ability to use shared spaces in clubhouses, plus indoor and outdoor dining. Players who are close contacts won’t have to sit out games as they await contact tracing should a teammate test positive — which is why the Yankees were able to continue playing without having any games postponed. The Pac-12 has announced that the Washington State–Stanford game will be canceled after a number of Washington State lplayers have received positive COVID-10 tests. The league had lost substantial amounts of revenue last season even after resuming play in the summer and having a successful bubble environment and this season would lose even more hundreds of millions of dollars. The NBA also has a deadline to meet; whereas last summer the league had time on its side to complete the playoffs before a shortened offseason, this season must finish by late July so that players can be available to play in the rescheduled Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. One thing to watch this weekend will be whether having fans at every game will make a difference for home-field advantage. In the first four games of the playoffs, the home team won only once — New Orleans beating Chicago. Two of the three home teams that lost, Seattle and Washington, did not have fans for its games while the Tennessee Titans lost to Baltimore in front of 14,029 fans. That continues the trend from the regular season in which home teams were 127-128-1, the first time that home teams did not win a majority of the games in an NFL season; the home win percentage was as high as .602 in 2018. Vaccination incentives have been a large part of professional and collegiate sports teams’ plans to have fans back in larger quantities — cheaper tickets for those who get shots at the stadium, vaccinated sections that have health and safety protocols eased and more. “I would like to thank the Council, Hockey Canada, and the teams for their input and participation in a decision-making process that was organized on such short notice,” Fasel said. “We passed an important first milestone by finding the optimal dates to hold this event and now will proceed to the next stage and choose a suitable venue.” The Football Championship Subdivision started play this past weekend and will kick into high gear on Friday with a unique spring season that could bring its own twists and turns. For Ohio State, the cancellation not only takes away the chance to record another win over its rival, but the ramifications are far-ranging. The Big Ten announced at the start of the season that a team must play at least six league games to be able to play in the league title game — and Tuesday’s announcement leaves the Buckeyes stuck at five games played. That does not make Ohio State unique in the Big Ten — only four teams enter Wednesday in a position to play all eight scheduled games — but unless the league changes its rules for title game qualification, the matchup in Indianapolis would be Northwestern against Indiana, not Northwestern against Ohio State. Several other games throughout the season were rescheduled because of the Week 4 outbreak on the Titans. A few others were delayed one or two days because of outbreaks but not more than a week. Other games at the end of the season were played despite teams having weakened rosters; the Denver Broncos memorably lost at home to the New Orleans Saints while not having any quarterbacks eligible to play, forcing a practice-squad wide receiver under center, while the Cleveland Browns lost at the New York Jets with almost its entire wide receiver corps out because of positive tests and contact tracing. The reported decision on another Ravens/Steelers postponement comes hours after San Francisco 49ers announced they will be playing home games for two of the next three weeks in Glendale, Arizona. The team will use State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, for games on December 7 against the Buffalo Bills and December 13 against the Washington Football Team after Santa Clara County on Saturday announced new COVID-19 related restrictions preventing contact sports in the county for at least the next three weeks. For decades, the Long Beach Grand Prix has been a staple of the IndyCar schedule in mid-April. But with restrictions in place across California preventing gatherings, the series has made the pre-emptive move to reschedule the 2021 race for September 26. The move will create a three-race, three-weekend West Coast swing to complete the season championship. Portland International Raceway will host a race on September 12 and the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will be staged September 19. The National Hockey League’s list of players out because of COVID-19 protocols has grown in the past week after a short period of time in which the league was able to hold games without interruption for nearly a month. “We are committed to supporting our member schools and conferences and student-athletes in every way possible, and yet I expect that some of our services to membership may be limited or delayed during this period furloughs,” Emmert wrote. “I ask for your patience as we all strive to weather these difficult times together.” The Philadelphia Eagles were allowed up to 7,500 fans for its Sunday Night win over the Dallas Cowboys but did not release an official number of tickets sold. One of the teams that came closest to selling out its allotment was the Denver Broncos … who, according to local television, had CEO Joe Ellis and General Manager John Elway test positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. A decision on whether Japanese spectators will be allowed at the Olympic Summer Games is expected by the end of the month, the International Olympic Committee’s games executive director said Wednesday. But whether or not domestic fans will be allowed , the IOC intends to create an environment for worldwide viewers to experience what’s happening in venues across Tokyo. The program had left the American Athletic Conference in June and was planning on playing in the fall as an independent. But with many other leagues going to conference-only play, the Huskies were left with only five games before the decision to cancel. The school said in its statement that no student-athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus since early July. The tournament will begin with 50 percent capacity on June 28 and then rise throughout the tournament before the finals at the 15,000-capacity Centre Court. Among the changes to this year’s tournament is that players will be unable to rent private housing and will have to stay in a hotel. Major League Soccer’s 26 th season schedule was released on Wednesday with more national network broadcasts than ever before, including five games on ABC for the first time since 1998 and seven more games on Fox spotlighting the newest expansion team in Austin FC as well as showcase David Beckham’s Inter Miami and rivalry games between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders plus ‘El Trafico’ between the Los Angeles Galaxy and LAFC. “The club’s goal has always been to return to play on home soil as soon as it is safe to do so and until then, the team will play its home games at Sahlen Field,” the Blue Jays said in a statement. “… We want to thank Canadians for everything they have done to combat COVID-19 in our communities. Blue Jays fans should continue to follow the latest local public health guidelines, including non-essential travel outside of Canada; through these efforts, we can hope for the day we reunite with our fans on home soil.” “Players with inconclusive results have undergone additional testing today and are currently in isolation,” the league said in a statement. “The new date for Game 1 will be communicated as developments warrant.” When the  Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoffs last weekend, it was not too surprising given the home team’s traditional postseason dominance at Lambeau Field. It has not been a smooth first half of the season for the NBA. The league has had COVID-related outbreaks on multiple teams, most notably the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors. The Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies both have second-half schedules that barely have a day off before the end of the regular season in an attempt to get each team to the targeted 72 games. “It’s an exciting moment for us to really start talking about how do we collaborate,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said. “That’s a great word and it’s at the heart of this. Where that leads we don’t know, but it’s going to be exciting. Sometimes we over-use the phrase world class but they are world-class people.” After being cancelled last year for the first time since World War II, the British Open will get underway on Thursday morning under strict contact tracing protocols for players — but while also allowing up to 32,000 fans per day, the most of any tournament in the world since the start of the pandemic. The Denver Broncos became the latest team to announce that it will have fans later in the season, starting September 27 when it hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Broncos will allow 7.5 % capacity to attend, which works out to 5,700 fans. Seats will be sold in ‘pods’ of up to six tickets and sections will be separated into small groups with a designated entry, concession and restroom area for each section. Less than a month after the Olympic Summer Games were held in Japan and as the Paralympics approach in the country, Formula 1 organizers said Wednesday that the October 10 Japanese GP in Suzuka will not be held because of COVID-19 conditions. Shell, speaking at Credit Suisse’s virtual Communications Conference, downplayed concerns leading to the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, saying “I lived in London: everybody was worried about the traffic. And last time it was Zika, and then once the Opening Ceremony happens, everybody forgets all that and enjoys the 17 days. And I think this is going to be the same thing.” The Premier League will also introduce a code of conduct for fans that will include wearing masks in indoor areas, avoiding close contact with people they do not know and following one-way signage around stadiums. Fans will also subject to random spot checks of their COVID-19 status in the opening few weeks of the new season with stewards asking fans to show they have been fully vaccinated or have received a negative test in the previous 48 hours, via the NHS Covid pass. While the National Hockey League is targeting a January 1 start date for its season but remaining deliberate in not making announcements until all the plans are solidified, the two biggest minor leagues that funnel players to the NHL have both made their own determinations on when the puck will drop. While many of glimpses from inside the houses of many of the various decision makers for NFL teams will go away, one team has decided to ramp it up for maximum social media and commercial exposure: The Los Angeles Rams have rented a 9,000-square-foot Malibu mansion as their draft headquarters with plenty of sponsor mentions from Rocket Mortgage. The move comes one year after Arizona Cardinals Coach Kliff Kingsbury showed off his mansion in the metropolitan Phoenix area. • The U.S. Track and Field and the local organizing committee in Greensboro, North Carolina, have announced the cancellation of the 2020 Masters National Championships, which were scheduled to be held July 9–12 at North Carolina A&T State University’s Ike Belk Track at BB&T Stadium. Holka s Modrou Parukou this photo was just sent to me re: the DII @NCAA tourney. men are playing in the ford center in evansville w/ tickets on sale , women are playing in an event center ballroom with 36 guest passes per team . the disparity is present here too. March 19, 2021 The NHL has had several postponements but has not had to shut a single team down for an extended period of time since the Dallas Stars at the start of the season. The AHL is expected to begin its season on February 5 and given cross-border travel restrictions, one of the NHL’s Canadian teams, the Calgary Flames, are for this season only relocating its AHL affiliate from Stockton, California, to Calgary. The move leaves the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers as the Canadian teams with American-based affiliates. “Our responsibility is to deliver the Games,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press. “That is our responsibility. It is the responsibility of others — the United Nations, who have been very supportive of the Olympic Games, and governments to deal with this — and not for us.” Two teams that found a quick fix for open dates are Baylor and Houston , former Southwest Conference rivals that have not played since 1995 — until they both found themselves available for a game on September 19. The reason: Both teams were scheduled to play opponents that had to cancel because of outbreaks. There are many other issues that the NFL will be addressing in the offseason as well, including; “In regard to the unique set of circumstances surrounding the decision to cancel the 2020 race, the event has put into place an exception to our standard event policies,” the organizers said in a statement. Each registered participant will have the option to receive a refund for their 2020 entry or to defer their place and entry fee to a future edition. While the NFL cannot mandate that players get vaccinated, one prominent former NBA player turned TV analyst has endorsed it: Charles Barkley said on HBO’s “Back on the Record with Bob Costas” that any athlete that doesn’t get the shot is “selfish.” That has proven true through just two weeks of play, with multiple games canceled or postponed because of outbreaks of COVID-19 on teams and games that traditionally would be scheduled years in advance now being set up less than two weeks in advance. And while the Mid-American Conference has stayed steadfast that it would focus on having a season held during the spring, one of the other conferences that currently is not in action — the Mountain West — may also be gearing up toward a fast resolution for the fall. For the fans that will be permitted , they will see these regulations in place, among others: New Zealand has been the envy of the world for its ability to control the coronavirus through strict government controls that have since led to, in some instances, sold-out crowds at sporting events. “The uniform implementation of the intensive protocols across the board was a very valuable strategy,” Sills said. “That implementation allowed us to see our cases go down at a time where the cases in the country were going in the opposite direction.” Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the news on Thursday. The league moved multiple games last season because of COVID outbreaks on teams, most notably moving a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans scheduled for week 4 back to week 7 because of an outbreak on the Titans. An outbreak on the Baltimore Ravens forced the team’s spotlight Thanksgiving Day game against the Steelers to be postponed nearly a full week as well. “If they are part of the operation of the Games, if they are somewhat involved in the operation then there is still a possibility they may be able to enter into Japan,” Muto said. “But solely as spectators for watching games — no, they will not be allowed to make an entry.” Bolton said what happened to Konta would have been handled the same way if a player were about to play in a semifinal or final. ESPN reported that MLB teams hope the delay allows for players to be vaccinated before starting the minor league season. Spring training started this week and only 20 positive tests were recorded before the start of team camps among more than 20,000 tests conducted by MLB. The low positivity rate, along with the pace of vaccination, has made league and team officials optimistic about a full season with limited issues. USA Hockey also announced this week site changes for several of its 2021 national championships, including the move of its Youth Tier I 14U, 15U and Youth Tier II 14U events to Dallas from April 28 through May 3. It previously had announced that the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s Championship would be held April 26–May 6 in Frisco and Plano, Texas. Candidates for the hub cities that will be used for the playoffs include Chicago , Columbus , Dallas , Edmonton , Las Vegas , Los Angeles , Minneapolis/St. Paul , Pittsburgh , Toronto and Vancouver . There will be two cities picked from that list. The league has not yet determined which cities will host. Negotiations will continue with the players on health and safety protocols. That the greater sports industry took note of the outdoor plans shows the reports made people talk about the NHL beyond its traditional fan base. Yet, the league remains no closer now to having an agreement for the 2021 season than it did a few weeks ago; and the doubt over how the professional hockey season will get underway extends beyond the NHL and down to its two minor leagues, the AHL and ECHL. Seeing that the continued dominance of a few programs was beginning to erode fan interest in a four-team postseason, the College Football Playoff is set to dramatically expand while trying to potentially get more bowl games involved. The decision is part of a “continued commitment to providing the best environment for a safe return for all fans and employees.” Arena and team employees will also have to be fully vaccinated, the venue said: “As final NBA and NHL health and safety guidelines have yet to be announced, these protocols are still subject to potential league requirements, and the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks may communicate additional details to their fans as the season approaches.” NASCAR began retightening its rules last week as the number of virus cases has surged. Reporters were required to wear masks everywhere when interviewing drivers and the series’ hauler limited inside occupancy to four people because of social distancing. A much-hyped return to dirt-track racing was delayed for at least a day after torrential rain flooded Bristol Motor Speedway’s parking lots of campgrounds, making the temporary dirt surface a muddy mess and forcing the Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series races to be delayed 24 hours in an attempt to dry out the track. The next class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will have to wait a few more weeks to be enshrined as the venue in Cooperstown, New York, has delayed the induction ceremony to September 8 to allow for limited crowds. The event had previously been planned for July 25 as an indoor event closed to spectators. But as the PGA Tour continues its season, like many outdoor leagues the idea of having fans come back in limited numbers has continued to gather steam. And this week in the Bermuda Championship, fans will be on the course in “a limited number of general admission spectators per day” at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton. The return of the New York City Marathon means that the nation’s largest marathons are all expected to be staged in 2021, even if still not in their traditional timeframes. The , normally in April, will be run October 11. The Los Angeles Marathon , which was postponed in March and again in May, will be also be staged November 7, the same day as the New York race. Big West commissioner Dan Butterly told CBS Sports that his conference would have 650 people involved, which in theory means several thousand people in Las Vegas just connected to the tournaments. The full Las Vegas organization, according to CBS, includes the following: Four arenas used . Most most teams who win an automatic bid will stay secluded in Las Vegas before heading to Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament. Teams are staying in the Mandalay Bay and Delano, South Point, Aria and Park MGM, meaning the city will have hundreds if not more than 1,000 room nights secured over the next two weeks. For a team to be in intensive protocol status this season, someone in the facility must have either tested positive or played against a team that had a player or staff member test positive. The memo added that since Week 5, teams in intensive protocols have seen a greater than 50 percent reduction in close contacts, which both reduces the chances for spread and makes contact tracing easier and more efficient. Almost every NFL team knows the heightened protocols well; 28 of the league’s teams have spent at least one week this season at that status, the NFL said in its memo, and 16 teams have been in the intensive protocols at least twice this year. Quarterback Josh Allen , who told NFL Network in April that he was undecided about getting the vaccine, declined to disclose his vaccination status in May. And as the NFL and NFLPA agreed on virus protocols, wide receiver Cole Beasley has spent the past week on Twitter being vocal about his refusal to take the vaccine and his anger over the restrictions on non-vaccinated players, going so far as to hint at retirement being a consideration rather than get vaccinated. “… So every player has a personal decision to make to evaluate the risk of COVID relative to vaccine, and then they have a competitive decision to make on how it impacts their ability to play in games, because with the vaccine you probably have a better chance. Without it, you have a lesser chance that something could happen, a bigger chance that something could happen that may keep you from being on the field, which doesn’t enhance your personal development.” Everybody knows how unique this year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament will be. Between the controlled environment in Indianapolis after a regular season unlike any other — and one that people hope never happens again — there have been major on-court storylines going into March Madness between Gonzaga’s search of perfection and high-caliber play in the Big Ten Conference. One coach, Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, said he is not happy how some teams will have fans after the Miami Dolphins announced their decision to have up to 13,000 fans in attendance. “We are planning to resume conference play after the holidays on December 30, but it’s our intention to hold off a little bit longer in announcing that second part of the schedule just so we can continue to assess the landscape and get ourselves comfortable with the most appropriate scheduling format,” Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said. “ will of course hinge on the status of the virus and related factors. Our goal there is to make sure we have safe competition.” The ACC does not have divisions this year, but it still has an issue with one of its marquee programs, Florida State, getting enough players to field a team. The Seminoles’ game against Clemson was canceled on short notice two weeks ago, a decision that still rankles Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney , before this past Saturday’s game against Louisville was also canceled on the morning of kickoff. Now, this week’s upcoming game against Duke has been canceled as well — with the Miami Hurricanes, who were off this week, going instead to play at Duke. “I always think from the moment we entered the bubble to now, it’s been draining,” Lakers star LeBron James said after his team’s first-round playoff exit at the hands of Phoenix. “Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally draining. Every team has to deal with it, obviously. But with us and Miami going the long haul in the bubble and then coming right back on short notice to this season, it’s been draining.” While a standard season would remain 82 games and full postseason, Silver said roughly 40% of the league’s annual revenues — projected once at as much as $8 billion — is tied to having fans at games. The postponement is the third in a row for the Rapids, which have had four players and 12 staffers test positive in the past two weeks.The Rapids last played on September 23 when they beat San Jose 5-0 and since have had games against Portland and Kansas City already postponed before the LAFC decision. “Men’s and women’s basketball, we’ve got to do what we need to do to support those athletes and those timelines,” Emmert said. “We’re talking, of course, with our media partners pretty constantly now about what flexibility they would have and we would have. We’d love nothing more than to hold the current dates constant, and that may well be doable.” It was easier, so to speak, earlier in the season when the Tennessee Titans had an outbreak. Several teams switched byes, games were moved around and as it turned out, the league was able to hold games almost flawlessly — an unusual Tuesday night game or Monday night doubleheader here or there notwithstanding. The postponement of Dakar 2022 allows the IOC, National Olympic Committees and International Federations to better plan activities that have been affected by the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While no FBS conferences have said they will mandate player vaccinations, one Division II conference announced that it will — the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference said all players and coaches must be vaccinated along with officials, band members and cheerleaders. The league did say that players with medical or religious reasons for not being vaccinated will be given exemptions but have to undergo regular COVID-19 testing. The NFL had to adjust on the fly like never before this season. The league played at least one game on every day of the week for the first time. Multiple teams had their schedules shuffled early in the season when the Tennessee Titans had 13 players test positive , forcing a one-week postponement of its game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first real test of the NFL’s ability to conduct the season. Several other games were postponed — notably the Steelers vs. Ravens — but there were also games that did not get postponed no matter a team’s competitive disadvantage such as the Denver Broncos playing without a quarterback against the New Orleans Saints , or the Cleveland Browns missing nearly every wide receiver against the New York Jets. “I’m fairly optimistic, at this point, that we will be able to start on time,” Silver said from Atlanta at his annual news conference that precedes the All-Star Game. “Roughly half our teams have fans in their arenas right now and, if vaccines continue on the pace they are and they continue to be as effective as they have been against the virus and its variants, we’re hopeful that we’ll have relatively full arenas next season as well.” The NCAA Men’s Tournament heads into a few days off before the Sweet 16 starts on Saturday with a multitude of storylines in Indianapolis, many of them positive. “It’s a nonsensical idea,” said Tretter, a Cleveland Browns center. “They say they need a differentiator between vaccinated and unvaccinated players. We already have a differentiator. The unvaccinated players need to wear masks. No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated, who’s not vaccinated. So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field.” The Classic is a professional women’s cycling race that was scheduled for four destinations across the state. In its place, organizers launched the #WeRide for Women fundraiser and virtual ride, which is intended to financially support the teams that would have competed. Earlier this year, organizers had proposed staging the August race but eliminating crowd gatherings. But new COVID-19 cases in Colorado and other restrictions made even the competition difficult to move forward. Christophe Dubi , Olympic Games executive director, added that organizers have been studying other recent large sporting events, including the Australian Open, whose director has offered advice on how an event as large as the Olympics can be staged. Among the lessons learned from that event, which had its own challenges fighting COVID-19 infections, is the situation will likely be fluid and dynamic even during the event despite the advanced planning, Dubi said. “This is what we’re going to do in the next months is to train, train and train the teams to respond to various situations,” he said. The number of teams that will allow fans in stadiums changed again this week as well, with the Steelers and Eagles reversing previous decisions to allow fans after a state order from Pennsylvania — but surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers will allow up to 500 team employees and family members of players to attend Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football. “We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s emergency directive,” Bob Lange , the 49ers team spokesman, said in a statement. “We are working with the N.F.L. and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed.” The Super Bowl is always one of the richest tickets in sports and between a severely restricted capacity and potential for a home team being involved, the market for tickets will do anything but soften. The NFL’s official hospitality provider, , is currently selling tickets for $7,000 with fees involved, up nearly $2,000 from a month ago. And as for stadium capacity, which fans and media had been waiting for official word on for weeks, that came Friday morning: The NFL will invite 7,500 vaccinated health care workers along with 14,500 others to be at the game for a total of 22,000; the Buccaneers were allowing about 16,000 at home games this season. The NBA announced how the 72-game schedule will be set up on Tuesday night, with three games against each team in its conference and two games against each team in the opposite conference. The first half of the schedule with games through March 4 will be released when training camps open December 1, then the preseason will start December 11. The All-Star break — without an All-Star game — will be March 5–10 before the second half of the season is held from March 11 through May 16 along with “any games postponed during the First Half that can be reasonably added to the Second Half schedule.” Well, two teams are going the extra mile during preseason — by trying to keep its players away from the general population to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Kraken will play their first home game on October 23 when they host to the Vancouver Canucks at Climate Pledge Arena. After closing Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum last season, the New York Islanders will open UBS Arena on November 20 against the Calgary Flames. While the league cannot mandate players to get vaccinated, Thursday’s memo is the latest in a series of moves to incentivize vaccination — almost to the point of mandating it. The NFL and NFL Players Association have already agreed on updated health and safety protocols for this season as training camps are about to open over the next week. Fully vaccinated players do not have to wear masks or undergo daily testing. Players not fully vaccinated will have a daily COVID-19 test, wear masks, continue social distancing and will not be allowed to leave the team hotel when on the road. The 2020 PGA Championship will be held August 3–9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco without spectators, the city of San Francisco and PGA of America confirmed. The decision to play without spectators was made in coordination with the state of California and city and county of San Francisco. Prior to its postponement on March 17, the PGA Championship was scheduled for May 14-17. “I think there’s a clear understanding that the NCAA fell short in San Antonio, but a recognition that the response has been commensurate with the challenge,” DeGioia said. “And now we’ve got important work in front of us that we will need to engage.” UEFA, the tournament organizer, last week cleared Wembley to host the semifinals and finals after the British government agreed on increasing capacity. The decision came after days of rumors of the semifinals and finals being moved to either Budapest or Rome should the government not increase capacity; UEFA was also seeking quarantine exemptions for VIPs, including representatives of sponsors, ahead of the final games. That game will be played on October 25, the league announced on Thursday. Multiple reports predicted the NFL would make what was the easiest potential adjustment to the schedule to fit the game back in by moving the Steelers’ scheduled Week 7 game against the Baltimore Ravens back one week, then rescheduling the Titans-Steelers game for Week 7 when Tennessee was already scheduled to be off. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson , who has recovered this week from his second bout with COVID-19 in the past year, said Monday that he is still unsure of if he will be vaccinated before the NFL season gets underway. The last comment from Hashimoto was a strong hint that the Japanese public will not be allowed to attend the Games; foreign fans were already banned from attending in March. When that announcement was made, organizers said a decision on local fan attendance would be revealed in April before pushing that decision off multiple times. “It is very unique to this year given what the pandemic dictates and how we mitigate that risk as best as possible to create a safe environment for all involved,” Holzman said. “That’s what this whole thing is about: We need people safe when they come in, safe on arrival and safe as we conduct the games and throughout all of that, we have to put different layers and different strategies in to mitigate the risk.” What has been a tournament in which as much attention has been focused for the NCAA’s missteps off the court has been a tremendous success for viewership. Connecticut’s dramatic regional final win over Baylor — highlighted by a controversial no-foul call in the final seconds — drew 1.7 million viewers, the largest non-Final Four women’s game rating in a decade. With multiple early-round broadcasts on ABC for the first time since 1995, there may never have been a bigger spotlight on the women’s game than there is this year, which continues to remind supporters of the game about the inequities between the men’s and women’s tournaments, which NCAA President Mark Emmert continued to try and apologize for on Wednesday. There was wiggle room, however. Given the multiple challenges the league has faced — the Titans’ outbreak, games rescheduled, the 49ers moving to Arizona and last week’s Broncos game where Denver was forced to play without any of their quarterbacks because of contact tracing — the idea that teams would be isolated at hotels in their home markets still remains possible. So if you are a fan of watching the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks or San Jose Sharks play each other, or the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders, you may get even more of those matchups than usual. • Austria as part of an eight-race trek throughout Europe that includes two doubleheader events. The season starts with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, followed a week later on July 12 by a second race at the same track. After the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 19, there will be a one-week break before consecutive weekends August 2 and August 9 at Silverstone in England , then the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on August 16, the Belgian Grand Prix on August 30 and the Italian Grand Prix on September 6. None of the events will be open to fans. The circuit says it plans to race at least 15 times this year, with further races throughout the world to be announced at a later date. Well, that was a long year—wait, you mean the college football season only lasted four-plus months? The report says the NFL competition committee met Monday and has set a contingency that would have four division champions and four wild-card teams from the AFC and NFC advance to the postseason. It would increase the playoffs an additional two teams from what was going to already be an expanded playoff field of 14 teams this season. The topic came up again last week when — of all people — FIFA President Gianni Infantino said , “I think the potential in the United States and Mexico is enormous, each country by itself. But of course if you could bring those two together that would be incredible and that could quite well be the best league in the world.” At the other major international tournament ongoing this month, Euro 2020, Scotland’s Billy Gilmour tested positive for COVID-19, two days after playing against England in a group stage game. Gilmour will be in isolation for 10 days; Scotland’s Football Association did not say whether he had any close contacts within his squad or while playing against England. Scotland is scheduled to play its final group stage game against Croatia on Tuesday and must win to clinch qualification to the round of 16. The Women’s Worlds were scheduled to start May 6 in Nova Scotia before last week’s sudden cancellation announcement by the government of Nova Scotia, a decision that drew intense criticism from several players who were about to start their quarantines ahead of traveling to the province. The announcement was not a complete surprise, with Jenny Carnes , senior vice president and chief operating officer for San Antonio Sports and the executive director of the San Antonio Local Organizing Committee for the Final Four, telling SportsTravel in November that “We’ve proposed that concept to the NCAA for months now, thinking it would be a tremendous opportunity for our city. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. has been looking at a number of different contingency plans and one would include an one-site tournament.” “These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . “We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.” What happens after that round is when things get difficult. The four teams that advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals will be re-seeded based on regular-season points, but the North Division champion may have to move to the U.S. for the semifinal round and potentially a Stanley Cup final. The NHL has asked the Canadian government for an exemption to its border restrictions that would allow the North winner to continue playing at home while its U.S.-based opponent travels in and out of the country without quarantining. But if the request is denied, the North champ will all but assuredly be relocated to one of the NHL’s U.S. cities — and Canadian fans will be stuck watching one of their teams call the United States “home” in another spotlight event. The NFL seems to know this and starting this weekend, it will clamp down on each of its 32 teams, putting them all in “intensive COVID-19 protocol” status for the rest of the season. The league informed each of the teams this week of the decision in a memo. The league said if there is no NHL player participation in the Olympics, a revised regular season schedule will be released. The excitement surrounding the return of fans was also tempered by the reminder that the pandemic is still a part of everyday life with the announcement that Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby has been put on the NHL’s COVID-19 list. All passengers on those flights, including the 72 players, were classified by local health authorities as close contacts of people infected with the coronavirus and forced into hard lockdown for 14 days. The six infected people, including a member of the aircrew on one flight and two coaches on different flights, were transferred to a medical hotel, according to The Associated Press. Tickets purchased for the originally scheduled Kentucky Derby Week dates are valid for the new dates. Guests may arrive on the new dates in September with their printed ticket or mobile ticket to be scanned for entry at the gates. The full schedule began this week with the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island, the only grass-court event in the U.S. that is joining the U.S. Open Series for the first time. After that, the tournament goes to Atlanta for the Truist Open starting July 24 for the ATP Tour . MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was part of an online event hosted by Hofstra University’s business school on Monday evening and said the expectation is the final three rounds of the postseason will be held in a bubble and that the league championship series, plus the World Series, could have fans. The University of Texas says it anticipates home football games being played in front of 50 percent capacity in the stands, the Longhorns’ athletic director said in an email to season ticket holders. A day after canceling the Cal-Washington game because of COVID-19 cases, the Pac-12 has announced it will cancel the Arizona at Utah game that was scheduled for Saturday over similar concerns. This is the opening weekend for the Pac-12, which had initially planned to play in the spring but later crafted a seven-game schedule for its member schools. The cities of New York and San Francisco have been strict about vaccine and masking requirements in the past several weeks as COVID-19 cases throughout the country have spiked because of the delta variant. New York requires proof of at least partial vaccination to enter indoor businesses while San Francisco asks for proof of full vaccination. In New York, a change in COVID protocols forced the U.S. Open to mandate proof of at least partial vaccination for all fans attending the event with the announcement made less than four days before the final Grand Slam of the tennis season started. While Durant was the biggest name, he is not the only player affected. Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky , forward Chandler Hutchison and a support-staff member have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Coach Billy Donovan . Chicago had a separate positive test by guard Garrett Temple in November before the preseason started. And seven members of the LA Clippers’ support staff are in quarantine away from the team, sources told ESPN , after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19 and contact tracing of the positive test led back to a New Year’s Eve staff gathering at a Salt Lake City team hotel while the team was in town to play the Utah Jazz. Emmert said the association is well on its way to correcting the shortcomings that came to light, including disparities in weight room facilities, but that he hopes to quicken the conversation to make sure those issues don’t appear again. The U.S. Open policies on fan attendance come after the Masters was held during its traditional spring dates after last year being held in November. The tournament in November did not have fans in attendance; this spring’s event was with fans — sorry, patrons — at Augusta National. The exact total was not known but was estimated to be around 25 percent of its usual capacity. The Big Ten Conference was the trendsetter among Power 5 leagues in deciding that the fall was too soon for college football. Then, under a storm of criticism, the league reversed its decision and said that thanks to rapid testing, it would be able to play a conference-only schedule and return months ahead of schedule. “This season is anything but regular,” said Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Mike Nealy during a webinar organized by the LEAD1 Forum last week . “We’re doing what we can and we can’t control what happens, but we’re trying to stay as normal as possible and plan for our games as normal as can be.” It has been said many times before but it bears repeating: Given the physical nature of its sport, the amount of time the season has lasted and the number of COVID-19 positives among players and staff, the fact the NFL has had to reschedule but not postpone a single game this season is an impressive feat. The NFL was the first pro league on Thursday to announce a postponement due to COVID-19, followed by Major League Soccer later in the day. MLS, which had to postpone last week’s game for the Colorado Rapids against Sporting Kansas City after multiple players and staffers tested positive for Colorado, will also postpone the Rapids’ scheduled game on Saturday at the Portland Timbers. Regardless of the number of games, the league’s divisions will change because of the restrictions on cross-border travel, leading to what will be a one-year unique look that includes a Canadian division. No matter the number of games or which team plays which, the biggest incentive is financial in the form of television coverage; the league’s TV partner, NBC, will have the rescheduled 2021 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo starting July 23 and will want to make sure that its schedule is filled with Olympics, not an extended NHL season. Add it all together and you should have a group of highly motivated league and club executives. The Basketball Tournament will be held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus , Ohio , starting July 4 with the entire event held at one site and broadcast on ESPN. TBT, as it’s commonly referred to, is a winner-take-all tournament with more than $1 million at stake. It will be a 24-team tournament. TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar told ESPN last month that they plan is to have a maximum of 50 people in the gym at one time. According to the Yahoo report, Goodell on Monday sent a memo to teams that “protocol violations that result in virus spread requiring adjustments to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game.” Vancouver has not announced its temporary home bases; reports have said Vancouver will start the season in Salt Lake City. This year’s rescheduled Games will cost at least $15.4 billion, more than double what the organizers estimated when they won the bid in 2013. A full cancellation of the event — something that the IOC and Tokyo organizers say is not an option this summer — would be billions more in losses for both the organizing committee and also the IOC, which earned roughly $1 billion in worldwide TV rights for the Olympics. The Dallas Cowboys have averaged nearly 26,000 fans per game, which appears to be near the maximum allowed at AT&T Stadium. But for some of the teams that have had fans all season, the average home attendance this year is not near capacity. Even for a fan base as devoted as the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, their team is averaging 13,138 per game this season even though the team is allowed to have up to 16,000 in the stands. The spotlight event every year for college basketball is the NCAA Tournament. It is why March Madness is part of the regular lexicon each spring, where bracket challenges pop up in offices and production during the first few days of the event sees some businesses drop in production because of the constant possibilities of watching a top seed get upset by a mid-major. The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, are scheduled to play this afternoon at the Los Angeles Rams — and the team will have to get used to playing on the road. Santa Clara County health officials on Saturday banned all contact sports at the high school, collegiate and professional levels through December 21; teams from Stanford University and San Jose State will be affected, as well as the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and NBA’s Golden State Warriors in their preparations for the coming regular season. NCAA Spokesman David Worlock wrote in an email to The Associated Press: “With potential risks to all involved in the game, we could not guarantee or be comfortable that five or more players would be available without risk.” “Unfortunately, after that, we didn’t get any more cloud cover,” Daly said. “The ice became problematic early on, and that was solely because of the strength of the sun.” The Blue Jays last played a home game on September 29, 2019, spending the abbreviated 2020 season in Buffalo, New York. It started this season at its spring training base in Dunedin, Florida, before moving back to Buffalo. Toronto FC last played at home on September 1, 2020. The American Hockey League has announced a revised start date for the 2020-21 season of December 4, 2020 as approved by the league’s Board of Governors. The league said in a statement that “the AHL will continue to work with its member clubs to monitor developments and local guidelines in all 31 league cities. Further details regarding the 2020-21 American Hockey League schedule are still to be determined.” The amount of buzz generated by the event has led the NHL to not discount the chances of turning this into more than a standalone event. The NHL had looked into destinations including Park City, Utah, and Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, before deciding on Lake Tahoe. Using those guidelines and based upon recent history, there may be maybe 11 cities — New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Indianapolis, Arlington, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Detroit and St. Louis — that would fit the needs for a Final Four. Both Indianapolis and San Antonio’s ability to be single-site events is proven this year but for the others, there would have to be an examination of how many various arenas would also be involved in those destinations. The FCS playoffs have been held annually since 1978 and was expanded to 24 teams in 2013. If all of FCS shift their seasons to the spring, a playoff would still be possible later in the year. Japan’s Asahi newspaper, citing multiple government sources, reported Tuesday the Opening Ceremony at the 68,000-seat National Stadium is likely to be limited to only VIP guests on July 23. The report added that smaller venues may have fans but other larger venues likely will be closed off to spectators. Given that there remains a slight chance that the Raiders would not be able to play on Sunday, the NFL has moved Las Vegas’ game — scheduled for Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — to Sunday afternoon and put a different game in the prime time lineup, Seattle at Arizona, “out of an abundance of caution to ensure that a game would be available for fans on Sunday Night Football.” The official 2021 schedule with playing dates and times will be announced later this spring. The season will start September 9 and end on January 9, 2022, with Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on February 13, 2022. And when it comes to fans in the stands, after a fall in which many of the games were played in closed stadiums because of COVID-19, Goodell on Tuesday made his strongest statement yet on the NFL’s plans for the fall. Dallas’ players went through testing on Sunday and held meetings virtually on Sunday and Monday as well per the league’s protocols. With those health and safety protocols established and plans prepared for the men’s event in Indianapolis and women’s event in San Antonio , there is increasing attention on the conference tournaments that are both just as much a part of the March tapestry and a potential pothole ahead as teams go into the controlled environments in Indiana and Texas. Through all the focus — deservedly so — as professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sports in the United States have taken varied ways to return to action during this year while trying to minimize the risks of the coronavirus, one thing that may not have been as front and center were the myriad difficulties for professional tours that are worldwide. “The NTT IndyCar Series looks forward to the remainder of a strong and compelling 2021 calendar,” IndyCar said on Monday . “The schedule is set with legendary road and street courses and a daring oval, which have become trademarks to winning the series championship and the Astor Cup. A historic Indianapolis 500, combined with other thrilling and memorable spring events, has highlighted the series’ exciting mix of youth and highly established stars. This year’s 16-race schedule has set the stage for a tremendous stretch run.” Ohio State already had a game canceled this season with Maryland after an outbreak among the Terrapins’ program. This weekend’s cancellation means if the Buckeyes have one of its final two games canceled, it would be ineligible for the conference championship game. The third and final version of the rules and regulations for athletes specifies that a disciplinary committee would determine the type of sanction that could take place in the case of noncompliance. Those measures could begin with something as modest as a warning but escalate to removal from the Games and financial penalties, although International Olympic Committee officials said they expect the vast majority of athletes will comply with the rules. And with Toronto’s NBA and MLB teams south of the border, as well as all three Canadian MLS teams, there could be further additions. Tennis Canada says the National Bank Open, scheduled for August 7–15 and one of the spotlight events leading to the U.S. Open, may have to be moved to the U.S. if they cannot get approval from the local health departments in Montreal, where the women’s tournament is scheduled, and Toronto, where the men’s tournament would be held. The request was made by Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott . CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told the newspaper that, “they’re talking about anything and everything. Larry did suggest considering the dates of the games, which is certainly in the ‘anything and everything’ universe.” While the NHL and its fans hope the 2021 playoffs can look like the playoffs fans have been accustomed to, Sportsnet in Canada reported last week that it may have to be adapted again. “I would say go do it, get the vaccine, to decrease the risk of getting COVID or spreading it to someone who is going to have an adverse reaction like myself,” Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett told USA Today this week . Garrett missed two games last season after testing positive for COVID. The IIHF and Hockey Canada have pledged to work toward finding new dates for the tournament, with the goal to host the event in the summer of 2021. Tampa Bay at Detroit: No fans allowed San Francisco at Arizona: No fans allowed Miami at Las Vegas: No fans allowed Mullen’s boss, Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin , within hours of his coach’s postgame press conference told the Gainesville Sun and ESPN, “We continue to follow UF Health and campus safety guidelines.” And Mullen clarified Monday he had not talked with Stricklin about the attendance allowed for the LSU game. The NFL announced Thursday that 87.9 percent of players have been vaccinated with at least one shot and 19 teams have a player vaccination rate better than 90 percent. Those who have been vaccinated will have far more individual freedoms both in and out of team facilities during the season. The upcoming regular-season schedule itself is being released in two segments, with the first three nights released by the league on Tuesday and Wednesday and the remainder of the first half of the season, from December 22 through March 4, being released on Friday. The Nationals opened at home against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday afternoon in front of approximately 5,000 fans with nine players on the injured list without a designation, which is taken to mean either they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are out because of contact tracing. Those nine included three regular starters in Alex Avila at catcher, newly acquired Josh Bell at first base and Kyle Schwarber in the outfield. For as ambitious as the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Florida, was to allow the league to finish the 2019–2020 season in a safe and healthy fashion, there is a case to be made that plans for the will be even more so. While the league will be able to celebrate a title game on Saturday between the Seattle Sounders and Columbus Crew with up to 1,500 fans at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio — the original soccer-specific stadium in the United States hosting its last big event before the Crew open a new downtown stadium next year — the league is looking to firm plans for 2021. Garber said the season would likely start in mid-March as the league tried to fit in games around multiple international competitions such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup 2022 qualifying. Oh, you say that maybe the winter sports will be able to learn the fall’s lessons? College basketball made sure to stay in the news when it comes to COVID-19 as well. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo , one of the biggest names in the sport, announced that he tested positive on Monday and will isolate for 10 days before he can return to coaching the Spartans. The NFL was universally praised after having three weeks of the season go off without a disruption. But the league and NFL Players Association on Wednesday announced the COVID-19 monitoring testing results for September 20 – October 3 which showed that in that time span, there have been 13 player positives and 19 staff personnel positives. “There’s a competitive advantage we’re going to miss,” Hoyer said. “Being transparent about it, we’re not a player away from being at 85 percent. It’s a disappointing thing that we’ll have anxieties and restrictions that others don’t.” Throughout the National Football League, today means the start of virtual offseason meetings, which seems almost amazing given it does not feel that far away from when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers raised the Super Bowl trophy in front of the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Of the seven games this final regular-season weekend that will have fans in attendance, one of them will have a downsized amount. The Carolina Panthers, which had been allowing just short of 6,000 in recent games, will allow only 1,500 friends and family members of players for the Panthers and New Orleans Saints to be in the stands. Among the activations will be the US Open Fan Cam powered by American Express, with fans able to record their cheers and encouragement for players and then submit those cheers to the US Open through its mobile app. Fan cheers will be shown on the new LED screens that will surround Arthur Ashe Stadium and card members will get exclusive access to ask a player a question that could be incorporated into an on-court post-match interview. Three of the four Grand Slams in tennis were able to be held last year — Wimbledon being the lone cancellation. The All England Lawn & Tennis Club is planning to hold this year’s event starting June 28 and reportedly are considering three separate plans for its organization ranging from full capacity attendance to having no fans on the club’s grounds. Last year’s Wimbledon was the first to be canceled since World War II. The following day, the Cleveland Browns sustained an upset loss at the New York Jets while playing down four of their top five wide receivers, all ruled out because they were close contacts to Browns linebacker B.J. Goodson , who tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the game. The Browns’ flight to New Jersey was delayed and a walkthrough with practice squad receivers had to be held in a parking lot less than six hours before the game. This week’s test is definitely not a false positive. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, said that Saban does have “very mild symptoms.” Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel was allowed to return to his team’s facility after 10 days of self-isolating from a positive COVID test, while the team itself still has nine players on the NFL’s reserve COVID list including starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill . While Alabama’s rabid fan base will surely show up no matter what — the spring game drew more than 40,000 this year with restricted capacity and has sold out in the past — college football attendance overall in 2019 hit a 24-year low. The NCAA’s attendance database from 2019 showed a Football Bowl Subdivision average of 41,477 per game, the lowest since 1996. It started with nearly two dozen teams deciding they would not play in a bowl game, citing the mental health of players who have been stuck on campus for months without a break. The Frisco Bowl, the scheduled opening game of Bowl Season, had to be canceled when SMU withdrew because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Liberty Bowl had to replace Tennessee with Army, a team that won nine games in the regular season but was somehow left out of a bowl game while six losing teams in the SEC earned spots. The Oklahoma City Thunder had planned to allow a restricted number of fans before reversing course on November 30 and saying it would not have fans in attendance, joining the Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, L.A. Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks in officially saying no fans would be allowed when the season gets underway. Most of the league’s teams have not officially announced its policies; the Golden State Warriors were hoping to get fans into the Chase Center but the team’s plan was rejected by the San Francisco Department of Health in November. This year’s season was played entirely in Canada for the NHL’s seven teams based north of the border because of the travel restrictions — but the league consistently said if an exemption was not granted for the playoffs, whichever Canadian team advances to the semifinals would be temporarily relocated to a U.S. market. The B.A.A. announced that the 2021 Boston Marathon will be staged October 11, having already postponed its event from the traditional April date. But the organizers also said that the marathon will only take place if Massachusetts’ reopening plan allows for road races by the fall. The 2021 Los Angeles Marathon, previously moved from March 21 to May 23, will instead be held at a later date in the fall, race organizers said on Tuesday, along with the Rose Bowl Half Marathon & 5K and the LABig5K. Racing on dirt in the Cup Series was always going to be a risk, but NASCAR has been in the position to do risky things lately in an attempt to attract new fans. The points race has changed repeatedly over the past two decades in an attempt to build anticipation toward the final race of the year. The Cup Series schedule has changed slightly over the years as well in an attempt to bring back fans to historic tracks such as Darlington Speedway in South Carolina. For the first time since 1918 — the last time the world was battling a pandemic — the Wolverines and Buckeyes will not play a football game after Michigan’s announcement that it does not have enough players after a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases between players and staffers. Additional versions of the playbook will be released later this week, including one for accredited media , marketing partners and international federations and Olympic family and workforce . After the U.S. Open is completed, the next Grand Slam will be the 2022 Australian Open in late January. Craig Tiley , the tournament director, has said that players are unlikely to have as strict a quarantine as they did in 2021 but they still have to be in a two-week bubble while crowds are also expected. While Crosby is a massive name, his addition to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list is also notable because of the small number of players on the list — Crosby, Nashville’s Ryan Johansen and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl . “I personally can’t stand that the criticism and calls to cancel or boycott the Olympics are being aimed at the athletes themselves,” said Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto last week. “It strengthens my resolve to ensure we have the proper measures in place to make the Olympics safe for athletes.” “USATF’s COVID-19 Working Group of medical and scientific experts worked diligently to develop a rigorous set of COVID-19 protocols for conducting the Championships,” the national governing body said in a statement. “However, it has become apparent that statewide restrictions in New Mexico and other logistical challenges for the event are too severe to overcome.” The PGA Tour’s virus protocols were spotlighted at The Memorial earlier in June when Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw — while leading by six shots going into the final round — due to a positive test after being involved in contact tracing. Rahm has since won the U.S. Open after becoming fully vaccinated. And if that sounds confusing, take a look at this story describing last week for Cal’s coaching staff which, on Friday morning, was told they would have to be ready for five options for the weekend — playing at Arizona State, playing at UCLA, playing Washington either home or away depending on health regulations, or not play at all. The Bears eventually played UCLA on Sunday, losing its season opener. Fauci went on to say that “we’re going to be seeing as the season progresses and as we get more and more people vaccinated and the level of infection comes down in the community, there will be more flexibility in getting more and more people into the ballpark. Hopefully by the time we get in the full swing of the season, there’ll be a lot more people that could feel comfortable being in the ballpark.” And Wednesday, the University of Wisconsin football team fell off the tightrope. The Badgers will pause all team-related activities for at least seven days after six players — including its star quarterback and backup quarterback — and six staff members, including head coach Paul Chryst , tested positive over the past five days. The CFP management committee’s working group, which has 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick , said that it has discussed 63 possibilities for future changes including models of six, eight, 10, 12 and 16 teams, each with a variety of different scenarios. Major League Baseball took a harsher stand in the hours after the celebration, releasing a statement that read in part “While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk. When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply” and announcing that it would be conducting an investigation into the circumstances regarding his return to the field for the celebration. The speedway will work to accommodate guests who have already purchased tickets to the 2021 race. To ensure social distancing, many fans who already have bought tickets will be reseated in new locations, a process that is expected to be complete by early January. The National Football League this year has an official policy called the “Fan Health Promise,” which in part makes ticket holders agree to not attend a game if they’ve had a positive COVID test in the previous 14 days and have not been vaccinated. “We have not confirmed the individual reasons,” organizers said in a statement. “In addition to concerns about the coronavirus infection, some dropped out because they found it would be difficult to actually work after checking their work shift, or due to changes in their own environment.” “Financially, for the season, without getting into it too specifically, we did somewhat better than we initially projected,” Silver said. “No question, the league will incur significant losses over the past two years. I will say though, I’m not here to complain about that. Just speaking for our team owners, they view it as a long-term investment in the league and something very necessary to keep these organizations going. And by the way, it was shared sacrifice by our players as well.” As many leagues in the United States struggle to keep together a schedule as cases surge, the biggest event in the world — the Olympic Summer Games — remains on schedule for its 2021 date and the International Olympic Committee’s president says he is “very, very confident we can have spectators in the Olympic stadium next year.” TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee in Oregon, said that recent changes to Oregon health regulations will enable fans to be at the renovated Hayward Field. There will be both vaccinated and unvaccinated sections in the stadium, with vaccinated sections forming much of the ticket inventory. Ticket holders must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination in order to sit in a vaccinated section. While Bristol has always been on the schedule and once sold out 55 consecutive races, it lately has had gaps of open seats at races — so given its tradition in auto racing and reputation, it seemed a smart choice to experiment with a temporary dirt surface. USA Cycling has announced the cancellation of seven national championships in 2020 after determining that the events could not be held with the uncertainty of the coronavirus in different destinations. USA Cycling intends to provide another update July 31 on five remaining national championships that are still scheduled before the end of the year. The events canceled as a result of the latest announcement are: The National Bank Cup in both Toronto and Montreal has not had any attendance plans approved yet — but the two Major League Soccer teams in those cities have been given clearance to play home games in front of fans, Toronto FC and CF Montreal announced on Wednesday. Between the debate about which teams would make the CFP and where they would play, the irony siren surrounding the CFP was roaring nearly 24 hours a day. Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly said his team would consider sitting out the College Football Playoff if the Rose Bowl would not allow family members to attend the game — a threat that got attention but to be totally frank, would anybody really expect the Irish to skip the game? Kelly also said of the Rose Bowl, “we’re worshipping the ashes of tradition,” a particularly rich quote for a coach at Notre Dame, which until this year has guarded its football independence with the intensity of a lion guarding its newborn cubs and will leave the ACC in football as quickly in the offseason as it joined in the preseason. The news from the NCAA came on the same day that the Pac-12 announced it will be able to test athletes for COVID-19 on a daily basis thanks to a partnership with Quidel, which will send its Sofia 2 testing machines and tests to each of the Pac-12’s athletic departments by the end of September. The University of Connecticut became the first Football Bowl Subdivision program to cancel its season, with Athletic Director David Benedict saying “safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.” One of the NFL’s most famously wild fan bases, away from the stadium for the entire regular season, may in part be allowed back in the stands as the Buffalo Bills end a long drought of home postseason games. Alabama’s move is being made after Saban said nearly the entire roster and coaching staff have been vaccinated. Mullen says the Gators “are probably over” the 85 percent vaccination threshold the SEC requires, but admitted he wasn’t sure about the exact number. Programs reaching 85 percent vaccination rate will not require players and coaches to test regularly or wear face coverings inside team facilities. For those small leagues, the postseason tournament is everything — and this year, the unpredictability of the season can make even the lowest-rated teams dream. But the question is whether those teams will be available to participate; three of the MAAC’s 11 teams are currently on a pause, with the conference tournament scheduled to begin in two weeks in Atlantic City, New Jersey, so the question for the MAAC is a two-part one: Will the league have all of its teams available to play in the conference tournament and how can they possibly have the seedings done in an equitable fashion? While foreign fans have already been banned from attending, Games organizers have not yet said if local fans can attend. In a survey by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper released Monday, 83 percent of those polled said they did not want Tokyo to hold the Games, up 14 percentage points from April. Israel’s Olympic committee is planning to ensure all of its athletes are vaccinated by the end of May. Hungary’s National Olympic Committee says it will have athletes start the vaccination process in a few weeks and Denmark hopes to have approximately 150 athletes and 200 officials vaccinated by the end of June. Greece’s Olympic Committee president, Spyros Capralos , has asked the government to prioritize athletes after medical staff and the elderly. Mexico’s president has placed athletes in a priority group and Lithuania began administering vaccine shots to Olympians weeks ago. Monday’s Game L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay: Up to 16,000 fans will be allowed The Atlanta Braves, while not having more than 40 percent capacity to start the season, have said they plan to have a sellout crowd at the All-Star Game scheduled for July 13. But MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark , in the wake of a new Georgia law that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run, told the Boston Globe that he would like to discuss moving the game with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred — which Manfred confirmed on Wednesday with The Associated Press. New York was one of the first teams to reach MLB’s 85 percent threshold for vaccinated teams, which led to relaxed health and safety protocols. This is the second time the Yankees have had an outbreak since reaching the threshold; they had more than six positives among the coaching staff in May. The Raiders are partnering with CLEAR to confirm a person’s vaccination status. Fans will have to download the CLEAR app and then upload their vaccine card, driver’s license and a picture of themselves. Then fans can open the app at Allegiant Stadium and tap the health pass digital vaccine card to display a QR code along with their photo for a stadium worker to allow entry. The app says that it has fraud protections tied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We thought we were still going to have enough to play, but the county, the health department and the NCAA, the medical committee made a decision that we weren’t playing, that it was a no-contest and Oregon was going to move on and we were done,” Rhoades said. The NCAA planned on running five of its six Indianapolis-area venues at 25 percent capacity, but after examining seating arrangements and social distancing guidelines, the capacities will instead be decreasing at each of the sites Lucas Oil Stadium , Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall are hosting games. The focus on HBCUs will extend beyond the game itself. Participants in the Slam Dunk, 3-Point and Skills competitions will also be representing HBCU schools. The three officials are all HBCU graduates; the court will be specially designed as well. “If one violates what one wrote in the activity plan, we will study the situation,” said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto . “In the final analysis, the worst possible penalty would be the possibility of taking away accreditation.” On Wednesday, Tokyo reported 714 new COVID-19 cases — the highest in five weeks and the 11th straight day in Tokyo that cases are higher than they were seven days previously. A quasi-state of emergency ends July 12 with the possibility that government officials may have to reinstate another state of emergency that could be in force when the Olympics open. Officials have already decided to take the Olympic torch relay off streets in Tokyo from July 9 through July 16. All 30 teams plan to have at least some number of fans at every home game this season , most notably the Texas Rangers’ plan to have a sellout crowd for its home opener at Globe Life Field on April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that will have to play at least its first three homestands in Dunedin, Florida, because of cross-border travel restrictions. “We will continue to work closely with the Hokkaido prefectural authorities, the Sapporo City Government and all other relevant organizations to ensure a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games for all participants and for the citizens of Sapporo and Hokkaido.” While Tampa Bay will not be at home this weekend, it will be playing in one of the seven games this weekend that will have fans in attendance. But two teams this week — Arizona and Washington — reversed course and will not let fans in for the final few weeks of the season, having allowed fans at different points earlier. And two other teams will decrease the number of fans they let into the stadium; the Indianapolis Colts will lower its attendance to 10,000 for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans from its previous cap of 12,500 and the New Orleans Saints, who were planning to have as many as 15,000 fans for this week’s spotlight game against the Kansas City Chiefs, will instead only have 3,000 fans inside the Superdome. MLS does provide financial support for the Canadian clubs for costs related to the inability to train and play home games in their own markets, Garber added. The matches will be closed to spectators but will be live-streamed on Amazon Prime Video. NBC will also present an early round men’s match on July 18 and the women’s final on July 19. NBCSN will air one finals match in the second and third weekends, respectively, which will also be simulcast on Amazon Prime Video. But Christmas Day may still be too soon, Silver told Bob Costas during a CNN interview. The NBA has delayed the date of the 2020 draft to November 18 ahead of the league and players’ union having to negotiate amendments to the collective bargaining agreement and agree on a salary cap and luxury tax thresholds for the next season. “We’ve done a lot of things together this year that we’ve never done before,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “Football can evolve. We’ve learned that we can go outside our comfort level and work better and work smarter.” Whether on or off the field, it appears that all things lead to Tampa Bay this week. “The Safety Committee has and will continue to prioritize NWHL player, staff, fan, and media safety above all else while adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation,” said Dr. Guillem Gonzalez-Lomas , assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Health expert at NYU Langone Health. “We are eager to meet the challenge ahead and do our utmost to safely return the athletes to the sport they love.” And while the extended regular season will mostly take a backseat to the assorted conference championship games, there is one notable cancelation already. Purdue and Indiana, which have played for the Old Oaken Bucket every season since 1920, will not be able to have their rivalry game for the second week in a row after both teams have a number of positive cases and players out because of contact tracing. The last time that Indiana and Purdue did not play in football was in 1919. And 1919, of course, was the last time there was a pandemic in the United States. “We have been continuously working with our teams, Players’ Association, arenas, and health and government officials to prepare to play our 35th season. An April start date will give us sufficient time to have our protocols in place for players, coaches, staff as well as fans,” NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said. “We are working with all teams to provide the safest environment and an acceptable level of fans in the stands. We understand that current circumstances will dictate whether this plan is achievable, and we will be prepared to remain flexible and pivot as needed. We want to thank all our players, fans and partners who have supported our efforts to stay connected and engaged during this prolonged offseason and are looking forward to returning to play in April.” “COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, they’ve proven to be highly effective and when people are fully vaccinated, we all have the ability to avoid serious health risks, reduce the virus’ spread, and maximize our chances of returning to a normal college football experience and to normal life,” Sankey said. “It’s not a political football and we need to do our part to support a healthy society.” “While I am confident that our conference is making the right decision for the health and safety of our student-athletes, it breaks my heart knowing how disappointing this will be to all of them who were eagerly anticipating the opportunity to compete this fall,” Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said. “Our efforts in the conference office now will focus on doing everything within our power to make their spring season the best that it possibly can be, which includes advocating for their NCAA championships to be held then.” Now that the NCAA Tournament field has been revealed, the spotlight will shift to two traditional powerhouses and top-four seeds in their respective regions and whether either will be able to play in the Big Dance. Still, it was not that simple. While the Big Ten announced last week that it would have a fall season, the Pac-12’s initial stance was to point out that government restrictions in California and Oregon prevented six of the league’s schools from holding practices. But within 24 hours, governors from both states indicated that it was not the case and that schools would start preparing for a shortened season. No game in FBS this season was played in front of a capacity crowd and outside of the SEC and Big 12, few teams allowed more than 15 percent of capacity to be in the stands. The Big Ten and Pac-12 sealed off games except for families of players — and only then for programs that had those plans approved by the local and state health departments, an issue that led to the Rose Bowl being moved from Pasadena, California, for only the second time ever. Right around the time that the PGA Championship was finishing, the New York Knicks tipped off their NBA Playoffs first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks in the first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2013. In part because of New York’s Excelsior Pass that those vaccinated in the state can download as proof of vaccination, the Knicks were able to have 15,000 fans at the game with section capacity determined by vaccinated or non-vaccinated status of attendees. Hainline said if given the chance to talk with Tsitsipas, he would recommend he get the vaccine and pointed to his collegiate background: “When we go across the NCAA, we’re at close to 85 percent vaccination. … There’s a major push to get our young individuals vaccinated. I would strongly encourage that. And I have been with all athletes.” Two of the previously announced sites for the rescheduled Euro 2020 soccer tournament, with 12 cities across the continent hosting matches, will be taken off the itinerary after they could not guarantee having fans allowed . The message to schools is “you’re expected to play as scheduled,” Sankey said. “Your team needs to be healthy to compete and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled.” “The impact this event has on our shoulder season is significant and a prime reason we initially brought the event to Myrtle Beach in 2018,” said Jonathan Paris , executive director of sports tourism for Visit Myrtle Beach . “In a typical year, the event had more than 1,600 total room nights contracted over five nights, not including our out of town fans, which are harder to track specifically. In addition to the hotel impact, our restaurants and attractions felt the impact of the teams and fans in the area. However, all sporting events in 2020 have been limited in terms of fans and overall capacity, so we would not have expected that same level of impact from the traveling fans this year.” Seiko Hashimoto , the president of the local organizing committee, said that the final decision on local fans was likely to be made Monday in a meeting with organizers, the IOC, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Japanese government and the International Paralympic Committee. The schedule released on Thursday includes a break for the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing from February 5–22, 2022, also the league maintains that its participation is not yet guaranteed. The Opening Ceremony in Beijing is scheduled for February 4 with men’s ice hockey preliminary round games starting February 9. The 2022 All-Star Weekend will be February 4—5 in Las Vegas and will be the last on-ice event before the Olympic break. “There’s a way to do it,” Emmert said. “Will it be normal? Of course not. We’ll be playing fall sports in the spring. Will it create other conflicts and challenges? Of course. But is it doable? Yeah. It is doable.” The Southeastern Conference already announced that it will be giving each school a one-time $23 million injection of capital against future media-rights revenue for those facing a budget crunch. But even for the conference that brings in more revenue than anyone in collegiate sports, having a sold-out Bryant-Denny Stadium will be crucial for Alabama and the school’s financial picture has motivated Alabama Coach Nick Saban to record a public service announcement for the state department of public health. With more than 200 players going on the NFL’s COVID-19/Reserve list this season, whether for a positive test or contact tracing reasons, there was one team that until last weekend had not one person be affected: The Seattle Seahawks. That was until Saturday, when defensive tackle Bryan Mone had been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list . And each league has made it stance as clear as possible to the greater public about how it feels on the issue of vaccinations, all but saying that the hopes for fans to be at sold-out stadiums this fall requires a massive vaccination effort among the population. As the NBA Playoffs continue, a reminder of what the toll that players are going through comes with almost every game: Injuries that medical professionals say is caused in part by the accumulation of games off a shortened offseason. Texas leads the United States in COVID-19 cases but Jones, on Dallas sports radio this week, said “My plan was to increase our fans as we went through the season, and we followed that plan … We’ve had almost a third of the attendance in the NFL, the whole NFL. I’m proud of that.” A large factor in the return of crowds to live sports events has been the increasing rates of vaccinated individuals in various markets throughout the country. And sports teams and venues, knowing that the higher the rate of vaccinated individuals in their markets equals the more people they can have at games safely, have been increasingly launching their own vaccination incentive programs. “It was a difficult decision, but a necessary decision in order to prioritize the health, wellness, and academic success of the student athletes,” Chicago State Athletic Director Elliott Charles said. “I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff,” Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez said. “We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible.” Through the first few chaotic weeks of college football, with multiple non-conference games being postponed and cancelled and schedules being reworked on a regular basis, lying in wait was the Southeastern Conference. The , which is conducting a two-week season among its teams before having the playoffs nationally broadcast for the first time, will have to finish the bubble campaign with five teams after the Metropolitan Riveters withdrew upon several members testing positive for COVID-19 in Lake Placid, New York. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is moving to Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas, so that the event can have have fans in attendance from December 3–12, 2020. The NFR has been held in Las Vegas the past 35 years. The NFL also confirmed that 30 of the league’s 32 stadiums have already been given permission to open at full capacity in the fall — the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos are the outliers for now, although the league expects that to change over the summer. Teams will also be permitted to host fans when training camps open in late July, subject to state and local health guidelines. ESPN said there are two scenarios being considered with the first being the NHL’s preference, which would see whatever team advances out of the North Division being given a special dispensation to travel back and forth across the border for as long as they are alive in the playoffs. But if the Canadian government does not give a dispensation, the North Division champion would be relocated to a U.S. city for the remainder of its time in the playoffs. ESPN also reported that the league would not put a Canadian team in a city close to its location, such as Toronto playing neutral-site games in Buffalo, but instead it would be based upon its semifinal opponent to eliminate extra costs associated with traveling. The NBA was praised last season for its response to the coronavirus, being the first professional league to suspend operations after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive. The road from suspending operations because one player tested positive to now, where the league has made teams play despite being shorthanded because of COVID-19 complications, is in many ways a financially motivated one. But one recent report in Canada put the National Hockey League in the crosshairs of a controversy. Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is among seven players who have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week in addition to head coach Mike Vrabel , who tested positive over the weekend. Other Titans on the COVID list include Justin March-Lillard , Geoff Swaim , Jeremy McNichols , Anthony Rush , Harold Landry and Nick Dzubnar . While the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as drawn the biggest TV numbers in primetime across all of TV on the nights it had games from the first round through the Elite Eight, the four Elite Eight games themselves averaged 6.2 million viewers this year compared with 11.2 million in 2019. That amount of drop was surprising after the Sweet 16 games, held over the weekend instead of Thursday and Friday as traditionally in the past, averaged a combined 12.9 million viewers between CBS and TBS — a 12 percent increase from 2019. Each team will attempt to play eight games in eight weeks before the league championship game on Dec. 19, one day before the College Football Playoff committee makes its selections. Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour has said that games will not have fans in attendance. As the sports-events industry continues to see signs of a strong recovery, there remain signs that not all events are back or will be able to continue as planned. Another sign came in Maryland this week, where the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic , a one-day professional race that was postponed from 2020 to 2021, will not be held as scheduled on September 5. Instead, the Baltimore race will be moved to 2022. “Both players and staff are disappointed not to be able to get back on the field for the National Team and continue the progress we have made as a group,” said Coach Gregg Berhalter . “While COVID-19 continues to create challenges for us, we are confident we can find a way forward in the near future that will provide an opportunity to play matches in preparation for the important competitions next year.” Of course, football in the fall is not limited to the NFL and college teams were mostly having fans in attendance at small quantities by the end of their seasons. Optimism for greater numbers is growing on the college scene as well; the University of Texas’ athletic director said on Twitter that he expects full stadiums after the Longhorns limited attendance to 25,000 people last fall. “Last year, we missed the energy that fans bring to our U.S. Open championships,” said John Bodenhamer , USGA senior managing director, championships. “We are grateful to our local and state health and safety officials in California to be in a position to welcome some fans back this year to witness the greatest players in the world contending for these prestigious championships, while working to maintain the health and safety of all involved.” Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints: New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell denied the Saints’ request for up to 18,000 fans. “At the end of the day, anti-doping is about athlete health and safety, so while this isn’t our typical area of focus, we felt called to work with the USOPC on this project,” said PCC Executive Director Michael Pearlmutter . Running USA recently released a white paper outlining how mass participation races can plot their returns. Among the precautions advised in the document are extra care around gathering points, including starting and finishing areas. “We are unable to make BMO Field in Toronto our home for the start of the MLS season,” said TFC general manager Ali Curtis in a club release. “But we will continue to work with local and federal officials to monitor the situation back home and return as soon as possible.” While the reports were not attributed to any government or organizing committee official, throughout the past year Japanese news reports have been a precursor to official announcements, serving almost as test balloons to gauge public reaction. Two weeks ago, organizers announced that venues could be filled up to 50 percent capacity with a ceiling of 10,000. Going to non-oval events was a highlight of this year’s schedule, which includes a visit to Austin, Texas, and the Circuit of Americas with the addition of another road course event. The annual trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which had decreasing attendance in recent years, will instead be run at the track’s road course after 27 years on the oval. “It’s incredibly exciting and positive to see the U.S. Open Series returning with such strength after an immensely difficult year,” said Megan Rose , USTA managing director of major events. “Engaging fans and local communities with world-class tennis events is integral to the USTA’s mission of promoting and growing the game, so the collective hard work and determination of everyone at each tournament and both tours to bring a full summer season of professional tennis back to North America is invaluable.” The Lakers and Miami Heat had only 71 days for an offseason, which according to Elias Sports was the shortest turnaround in the history of the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB. Heat star Jimmy Butler battled various leg ailments throughout the season while for the Lakers, Anthony Davis missed two months with a strained calf before sustaining a strained groin in the playoffs while James missed 26 games with a high ankle sprain. The news out of New York is the latest in a series of MLB clubs trying to incentivize having fans get their vaccinations. The Cincinnati Reds announced this week that tickets in certain locations will be $10 for fans who bring their COVID-19 vaccination card to the ticket windows at Great American Ball Park for games scheduled Monday through Thursday in the month of June. “What I feel is that no spectating should remain an option for us as we look into things,” Hashimoto said at a Friday news conference . “The situation is changing from time to time so that is why we need to remain flexible and prompt in responding to any change. A no-spectator games is one of our options.” “As the flagship institution of the state of Louisiana, our foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of our students, our supporters, and our community,” Tate said. “While we are aware of the diverse perspectives across the nation regarding masks and vaccinations, we must take all reasonable measures to protect our campus and community, not only on gamedays, but long after guests have left Tiger Stadium. The current threat to our lives, our health, and to our medical systems due to COVID-19 is overburdening our hospitals, and we must do our part to stop the spread.” In any case, the conference joins the Big Ten and the SEC as Power 5 conferences that will not play games this weekend because of the pandemic. One of the most ingenious ideas by a venue was at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The track, along with the Alabama National Guard, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC Foundation and the Alabama Department of Public Health, held a free clinic on May 15 at the track where people ages 16 and older with a valid driver’s license who chose to be tested and or vaccinated were then allowed to take two laps behind a pace car at highway speed along the famous race venue, including its 33-degree-high banked turns. Schools not in the Power 5 are taking hits as well, which is to be expected. Northern Kentucky University’s athletic department took a $250,000 budget hit last year because of COVID-19 and expects to lose $1 million in revenue between a loss of ticket revenue and other factors, Deputy Athletic Director Dan McIver told the campus newspaper . The NCAA selection committee started meeting on Thursday to determine the field. The bracket is revealed on Sunday evening; after 6 p.m. EST Tuesday, teams that make the field cannot be replaced if they get sick, and their scheduled opponents would advance. The Derby typically will attract 150,000 or more but it was larger than the 47,218 people who attended the University of Alabama’s spring football game in mid-April, which had the previous largest attendance since the sporting world shut down last year. Temperature checks were conducted at the gates and masks were mandatory on the grounds. The study said spectators became less compliant on masks as the tournament progressed while the final was marked by mass disorder, including ticketless fans storming the gates and filling the stairways to watch the game. The study was a sobering moment for those who follow the game in England since the Premier League has had full capacity crowds since it started earlier this month; many of the teams are requiring proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours of kickoff. All the meanwhile, the games will go on. Because frankly, there is too much money involved and for athletic departments that have had a fall season where football revenues have plummeted. The need to make sure there is a college basketball season culminating with the NCAA Tournament is imperative. Another big name in the NFL is in contact tracing protocols and will miss five days of practice and team activities as the regular season looms in less than two weeks. Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz was one of three Colts players added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday just as he was about to make his return to practice after foot surgery at the beginning of August. Rate of those players testing positive for COVID is 7x higher for unvaccinated players, per the league and PA. September 1, 2021 “The return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games represents a monumental moment of world unity and peace after a grueling year of isolation and devastation, Bourla said. “We are proud to play a role in providing vaccines to athletes and their national Olympic delegations where possible.” “There will not be a new format this season or next season,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told ESPN . “The timetable is certainly an important detail, but it hasn’t been determined yet. It’s too soon to predict the timing, but even if the board decides to alter the format, it may well not occur until after the current agreement has expired, which isn’t until after the 2025 season.” The NWSL Challenge Cup will start on April 9 with full details coming at a later date. After the Cup’s completion, the league’s 10 teams — with Racing Louisville FC joining as an expansion franchise and Kansas City as a new team after relocating from Utah — will have a 24-game regular season starting May 15 without a break for the 2021 Olympic Summer Games, with playoffs starting November 6 and the NWSL Championship on November 20. $ome out there are wondering how the NBA can continue on with game$ a$ more and more player$ are $idelined — or at lea$t quarantined — due to the coronaviru$. If only there wa$ one factor that drove all of thi$.— Kurt Helin January 9, 2021 “The advice we have from the WHO , and all other scientific and medical advice that we have, is that — all the measures we have outlined, all of those measures that we are undertaking, are satisfactory and will ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health,” Coates said. “And that’s the case whether there is a state of emergency or not.” After a period of planning its return, MLS was able to pull things back together, resuming in July with 51 matches in 35 days at the MLS is Back Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The league also played the rest of the regular season with in-market matches but had to adjust the postseason qualifying procedures in the final weeks after the Colorado Rapids had an outbreak within the team that forced five matches to be canceled, making the league do playoff seedings by points per game instead of total points. While Indianapolis will not get to have a full house at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Final Four because of COVID-19, it will at least be able to sit back and know that it already has a future Final Four guaranteed in 2026 — one year after San Antonio is scheduled to host the men’s Final Four at the Alamodome, where this year’s women’s champion will be crowned. But in an effort to vaccinate as many people as are willing before the events, the IOC has now signed a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to donate doses of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine to Games participants from National Olympic and Paralympic Committees around the world. Under the plan, the NOCs will work with their local governments to coordinate local distribution in accordance with each country’s vaccination guidelines and consistent with local regulations. The way that COVID-19 cases are increasing throughout the country, there may not be a 20th team to reach that mark this season. The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is expected to approve a six-week practice calendar this week, reported Sports Illustrated , which would be another sign that the college football season plans to start on schedule. The NCAA began allowing voluntary workouts on June 1 but not every school started on that date. The four-phased plan includes six weeks of workouts with preseason camps starting in August. The earliest coaches could start interacting with players is July 6. The report comes as the NCAA announced that it plans to keep the same dates and sites for the NCAA fall championships as already scheduled. The NCAA Competition Oversight Committee made the announcement today , though it did note that the situation could still be fluid. Championships in fall sports are currently scheduled from November 20 through January 11. “For the Winter Games, to be held from Feb. 4 to 20, the authorities intend to wall off China’s 1.4 billion people from essentially all athletes, judges, drivers, guides, journalists and others associated with the event. … When the Games end, practically everyone involved will be required to leave China or endure several weeks of total isolation in government-run quarantine centers, undergoing numerous medical tests, according to people familiar with Beijing’s preparations. … That will include thousands of Chinese staff, who will have to live in the bubble throughout the Games and then “re-enter” the rest of China after a lengthy quarantine. No decision has been announced on vaccination requirements for participation in the Games, or on the shorter quarantines for people arriving for the Olympics from overseas. … No information has been released about Olympic quarantine facilities. But, in general, China’s top medical experts have concluded that hotels, while comfortable, do not provide sufficient infection control. So they have invented new approaches. For example, nearly 2,000 prefabricated, stackable metal containers for individual quarantines were built during an outbreak early this year in Shijiazhuang, about a four-hour drive south of Beijing. … Britain plans to send a group of its sliders to Beijing as early as October. They have been told to expect to stay there for more than a month in conditions described as a “severe lockdown.” Pressure continues to mount on Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee, both of which are proceeding ahead with planning for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer despite growing criticism on several fronts. There has been the number of upsets with a record figure of double-digit seeds advancing to the Sweet Sixteen, everything from No. 15 seed Oral Roberts in the South to the Midwest Region, which has the No. 2 seed Houston still alive but no other seed higher than No. 8 remaining. There has been the resurgence of the Pac-12 with four teams still alive, more than any other conference, and the underachievement of the Big Ten, widely believed to be the best league in the regular season but with only one of its nine selected teams remaining in the bracket. “The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition which has always been about bringing people together,” the track said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern. Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance. We were confident in that plan but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available. With the current significant increases in COVID-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.” While two of the three NFL teams in Florida have had fans already at games, the one that has not is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — not only the new home of Tom Brady, but the host in February for the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers announced before the season that it would not have fans for at least the first two home games and the NFL admitted that the potential of having a fan-less Super Bowl is one they have to prepare for. The announcement comes a week after Texas Governor  Greg Abbott opened the state and businesses fully and ended the mask mandate that had been in place since early July. Neil Leibman , the Rangers’ president of business operations, said the organization was waiting for direction from the governor’s office before making any plans for the 2021 season. “It was a difficult decision to make, but we believe it’s better to prioritize safety now so we can rally towards the incredible season we have planned in 2021,” Spartan said in a release. While the overall decline was only 379 fans per game from 2018 to 2019, it marked the eighth time in nine years there had been an overall national decline. Of the Power 5 Conferences, only the Big 12 saw its average attendance increase in 2019 — by 0.1 percent. Even the seven games run by the College Football Playoff posted a low in cumulative attendance following the 2019 season. If not, you better start preparing. Because believe it or not, NFL training camps will be starting within the next two weeks — July 27 to be exact, with two teams allowed to start six days earlier — and with that comes two weeks of constant reporting and attention paid to one thing: Team vaccination rates. An exemption would let teams enter Canada for games without having to isolate for 14 days, as is currently required for nonessential travelers because of the pandemic. The requirement has wreaked havoc on Canada’s professional teams and major summer events; the Toronto Blue Jays started their season playing home games in Dunedin, Florida, and now call Buffalo, New York, home while Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps have relocated to Florida or Utah. Formula 1 has canceled the Canadian Grand Prix and Tennis Canada says the National Bank Open may have to be moved to the U.S. if they cannot get approval from the local health departments in Montreal, where the women’s tournament is scheduled, and Toronto, where the men’s tournament would be held. The biggest point of emphasis is daily testing and contact tracing. The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to daily testing during preseason camps and when the union insisted on that continuing into the season, the league agreed to do so. As a result, since August 1, players and staff members from the NFL’s teams have been tested more than 750,000 times, with nearly 10,000 people wearing contact tracing devices each day. By being able to use this information to see how the virus spreads from those infected to those who are not, the league has — perhaps unwittingly — provided a thorough case study for medical professionals to study. The NCAA has announced dates for the 2021 preliminary rounds that will be played in Indianapolis and the surrounding area. Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Assembly Hall in Bloomington will each host two First Four games and will join Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium as hosts of first-round games on Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20. Two of the most high-profile U.S. Olympic Trials events this month, track and field in Eugene, Oregon, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, have released tickets for fans with an eye toward having attendance at the events that will determine some of the competitors for Team USA that will compete in Tokyo. The perils of winter outdoor competition in the COVID-19 era were magnified over the weekend when training and a World Cup bobsled and skeleton race scheduled for March as a 2022 Olympic Winter Games test event in Beijing were canceled, in addition to the World Cup luge event at the same track built in Yanqing. In a letter sent to national federations , International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Secretary General Heike Groesswang said several weeks of conversations were held about how to move forward with the training week and World Cup “under the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic causes to all of us.” But while not having fans would not affect those revenue generators for the IOC, ticket sales — and potential refunds — would be another cost for the Tokyo organizers, who have already spent over $15 billion in preparation for the Games. Ticket sales were to account for $800 million in income for the organizing committee. Much of it will be lost and government entities will have to make up the shortfall. That protocol is now being enforced after multiple flights arrived with passengers who have since tested positive, meaning that 72 players currently are in full isolation in their rooms. Two players are among the three latest cases from testing conducted on passengers who arrived on charter flights, that coming in addition to six positive tests connected to flights from Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi and Doha. This year’s NFL draft, which starts Thursday night, will return to the annual road show that it has been for years — this time in Cleveland, with some modifications to the continuing impact of the pandemic but with just enough bells and whistles to make it feel like one of the previous draft parties. The Associated Press has reported that the second edition of the ‘Playbook’ from Tokyo’s Olympic organizers and the IOC will tell 15,400 athletes that they will have daily testing for COVID-19 but that athletes will not have to undergo a 14-day quarantine requirement, allowing them to train immediately upon arrival in Japan. “These weren’t demands, they were suggestions,” Tiley said. “But he, too, is understanding what two weeks of lockdown means … every player coming down knew that if they were going to be close contacts or test positive that these were going to be the conditions.” The peril for journalists was evident earlier this month when foreign reporters covering floods in central China were targeted. The Communist Youth League, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party, asked social media followers to locate and report a BBC reporter on assignment. That expanded into broader accusations against foreign reporters for “slandering” China with coverage that could be seen as critical rather than focusing on government rescue efforts. China last year expelled more than a dozen American reporters working for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne also tested positive, according to the school. Alabama, which started testing its players on a daily basis last month, will continue to test everybody within the football program on Thursday. The two basketball committees took a public step toward answering that issue on Thursday, detailing various scenarios relating to coronavirus testing and how it would be organized. Among the highlights in the document are Whether or not those naysayers continue to believe that will be interesting this college football postseason as at least three bowl games will not be held because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Redbox Bowl, which previously announced it would not be held this season in Santa Clara, California, was joined over the weekend by the Hawaii Bowl and Bahamas Bowls. “This is a prudent step to complete the major league and minor league seasons as safely as possible, and we look forward to having fans back in ballparks across the country very soon,” Morgan Sword , MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said in a statement to ESPN . Revenue is one thing, but the potential decision would also have major international sports implications. Doubling the number of World Cups between men and women would guarantee that the sport goes head-to-head every four years with the Olympic Summer Games, which would set up some intriguing meetings at the International Olympic Committee — with Infantino, among several others, being IOC members while potentially guiding FIFA into the Games’ calendar. USA Wrestling has scheduled its 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas , from April 2–3. When the announcement was made, USA Wrestling said “a limited number of spectators will be permitted.” The organization on Wednesday morning announced that its Last Chance Qualifier ahead of the Trials would be March 26–27 at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, also with a limited number of fans on hand. Next year’s women’s tournament will also be the last time that there are four regional sites; starting in 2023 through 2026, there will be two regional sites instead of four. Whether the NCAA changes things beyond 2026 is up in the air ­— a 2013 report by Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman on the state of women’s basketball for the NCAA laid out ideas that ranged from having the men’s and women’s tournaments at the same sites to maximize the branding and revenue opportunities to having the women’s tournament, from the Sweet 16 through the title game, at one site akin to the College Baseball and College Softball World Series. That factor is magnified within college basketball given the fewer number of players on a roster. The two teams that opened up its stadiums to full capacity the earlier, the Rangers and Braves, are unsurprisingly leading the way for MLB attendance this season. The Rangers are averaging 27,547 this season in its first season with fans allowed at Globe Life Field while the Braves averaged 26,335 through the weekend. The only other franchise to average more than 20,000 per game this season is the Houston Astros , who were also among the most aggressive in opening up seats early in the season. The virtual environment continued throughout the NFL season with enhanced health and safety protocols leading to teams having meetings virtually each week between games. While in-person gatherings won’t entirely disappear, teams found that the virtual environment to be a positive. While fans must show proof of partial vaccination to attend the U.S. Open, reports before the Grand Slam indicated that between the ATP and WTA Tours, player vaccination was hovering in the region of 50 percent — shockingly low compared to many other professional sports. There is also the question of teams playing in front of restricted capacities not selling out their allotment. While the Dallas Cowboys have averaged 25,021 fans at its two home games, the Houston Texans are allowed up to 13,300 fans but last weekend only drew 12,102. The Kansas City Chiefs have been able to hold up to 16,000 fans this season but are averaging 14,312. Spring training last year is known mostly for how it ended — abruptly, as the coronavirus first started making its way into the front pages of newspapers and eventually onto the sports pages. But if spring training is lauded each year by baseball fans as a rebirth of a new year and harkening to spring, this year’s spring training is a tenative step into a more open sports industry as vaccinations increase but still with health and safety on the minds of all. This will be the first time since 2010 that Atlanta has hosted two NASCAR Cup races in a season after a March weekend in which only limited capacity was allowed. The facility will continue using health and safety protocols including cashless payments and mobile ticketing and said it “will follow state and local health recommendations when determined for July regarding mask and social distancing protocols.” The NFL Networks’ Tom Pelissero said on Friday afternoon that the number of teams at the threshold had increased to 13 with only two teams under 50 percent. He said 73.8 percent of the league’s players have at least one shot. The idea of having fans at the course has been welcomed by many but there was one notable comment from Phil Mickelson , who last week said “I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there.” While McVay will not be in Cleveland, several prospects are expected to attend the draft with nearly four dozen more taking part virtually, including presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. One prospect that was planning to be in Cleveland was Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley , a projected first-round pick, but he will stay at home after agent Drew Rosenhaus said that Farley tested positive for COVID on Tuesday; Rosenhaus then said on Thursday morning that Farley was re-tested and came up negative. “I’ve been at this for 32 years,” Big East Conference commissioner Val Ackerman told USA Today . “Some days I’m heartened because I think women in sports have made tremendous strides. And other times, it feels like 1988, when I started out at the NBA.” “Our hosts in Fort Worth are meeting with local health authorities to see what this means in regards to protocols already approved,” USA Wrestling Director of Communications Gary Abbott said in an email on Wednesday. “The COVID safety plan is ultimately approved by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, which will be included in any changes, if there are any.” Scott said that for foreign student-athletes who would have to quarantine after coming back to campus that it would be a decision made by individual conference schools rather than a blanket policy dictated by the league office. He added that for athletes who are not comfortable playing because of any risk of infection, “ have been very clear that we need to be respectful of any decision made by any of our student-athletes and their families if they’re not comfortable.” When Tokyo 2020 announced it was banning foreign spectators from the Olympic Summer Games, leaders mentioned that international ticket buyers would receive a refund. But in the United States, it appears that those refunds are still months away and that they will not be 100 percent. Drama ensued on Friday at two AFC team facilities, as the Indianapolis Colts shut down its complex after hearing four members of the organization had tested positive — before returning a negative test on Friday morning. The Atlanta Falcons had closed its facility on Thursday after a positive test but that was reportedly to an assistant coach and not a player. “Our whole concept here was not to avoid positives — we knew that that was not possible when you’re dealing with 7,500 people in our system who were being tested almost every day,” Goodell said. “That was not going to happen. But the idea is to test frequently, identify when you have a positive and isolate. And make sure that you trace that properly to identify people who may have been in close contact.” And yet the league is living on a knife’s edge each week. Not only does each team have to react should any players test positive, but there is also the contact tracing protocols the league and union have agreed upon that can make the preparation each week for games difficult, as the Las Vegas Raiders have learned this week. Normal would be terrific ­— but there also is the question of what next year’s tournaments will look like. It’s a guarantee that the NCAA will be under intense scrutiny to make sure that players have the same experience between the amenities and things available at sites. How the tournaments will be branded is also going to be a flashpoint; will March Madness be used by both tournaments? Will the women’s tournaments have branded courts at each site throughout the event just like the men assuredly will? That makes Cal 0-1 at the same time that BYU, an independent, is 8-0. It’s just another week in the 2020 college football season. The NCAA recommends each school implement its own COVID-19 prevention and management strategies “in conjunction with federal, state and local public health guidance.” But at the same time, its medical teams have established guidance for testing, quarantine and isolation for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The Chargers and Rams, who will share the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood , said they will have games without fans “until further notice.” But the teams both said “should conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic significantly improve – and State guidance evolve – to the point we believe fans can safely attend games at SoFi Stadium, we will communicate the news at that time.” What may have been lost by some in the off-court issues has been the continued excellence of the women’s tournament on the court. Watching several games from both the men’s and women’s tournaments over the weekend, one could see the smoothness and faster pace that the women’s games have been played at, with better offensive efficiency nearly across the board. There were new faces in the Mercado Region final on Monday night as Arizona beat Indiana to reach its first Final Four and in the other Elite Eight matchup on Monday, Connecticut beat Baylor on a controversial no-call at the end that had LeBron James tweeting about the women’s tournament instead of the men’s. New Orleans at Atlanta: A limited amount of fans will be allowed Cleveland at Tennessee: Up to 14,520 fans will be allowed Detroit at Chicago: No fans allowed Cincinnati at Miami: Up to 13,000 fans are allowed Jacksonville at Minnesota: Up to 250 friends and family members of players will be allowed Indianapolis at Houston: Up to 14,444 fans will be allowed Las Vegas at N.Y. Jets: No fans allowed N.Y. Giants at Seattle: No fans allowed L.A. Rams at Arizona: No fans allowed New England at L.A. Chargers: No fans allowed Philadelphia at Green Bay: Up to 500 employees and family members are allowed Denver at Kansas City: Up to 16,811 fans will be allowed Hashimoto said despite what she called a “tense situation” amid a current state of emergency over rising COVID-19 cases in Japan and Tokyo specifically, there is still the possibility that venues could be open to 100 percent capacity. But all other potential limits to crowd size, including the chance of no spectators at all, are still on the table. CONMEBOL is trying to complete most of qualifying in time for the planned draw in April for the men’s World Cup in Qatar next year and was granted approval for the triple-headers by FIFA earlier this month. FIFA not only organizes the World Cup, which generates most of the governing body’s revenue of $6 billion in the four-year cycle, but it also regulates the game globally and oversees the international calendar. On top of that, South American countries have been granted three additional days with players by FIFA in both September and October so three qualifiers can be played in each window. When it comes to nonconference scheduling, you can never plan too far out for college football. Some high-profile games are scheduled through the next decade; the University of Alabama already has a non-conference game scheduled for 2035 . To that point, the NFL has extended some of its strictest COVID-19 safety protocols, including the banning of in-person meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays after games. Virtual meetings only are permitted during the two-day period. The biggest overall concern in Tokyo this summer is, of course, the coronavirus. And the fear that many have of the Games being affected by COVID has been heightened when officials in Izumisano, a town in western Japan hosting the nine-member Ugandan Olympic team for training, said a second member of the team has tested positive for the virus. The first, reportedly a coach, was detected upon arrival Saturday in Tokyo. The rest of the team has been isolating at an Osaka hotel. The Ugandan delegation was fully vaccinated and had negative PCR tests before leaving for Japan. There is more than just a berth in the NCAA Tournament at stake for both the teams involved and the governing body itself. Last year’s NCAA Tournament cancellation cost the NCAA $600 million in revenue, USA Today reported , after it only received $113.1 million from broadcast partners CBS and Turner. The NCAA had anticipated receiving $827 million for a full event. The NCAA received $270 million in event cancelation insurance and distributed $246 million in 2020, down from $611 million in 2019. Now that they know more about how to do that, “we’re excited about opening on April 1 and have the opportunity to showcase our stadium to our fans and bring excitement back to baseball,” he said. The timing of the football national championship will be determined at a council of presidents meeting on July 31. There have been some historic comebacks in college football, but maybe nothing like what the sport overall has experienced from early August until now. Was the most highly anticipated game of the season a dud? In a lot of ways, yes — certainly following the dramatics that happened in the Gonzaga-UCLA game. But was it satisfying to see the NCAA tournament be completed a year after its cancellation was the first major sports event to be disrupted by COVID-19 and, a year later, for it to be held in unique fashion with few disruptions? Also, yes. The Crimson Tide’s first home game is September 11 against Mercer and there are no plans to limit fan capacity. Saban appeared in a PSA in May to encourage fans to get vaccinated, saying it was important to have a full stadium in the fall was his pitch. Overnight, a Japanese Olympic Committee board member blasted organizers but admitted it was too late to cancel. Kaori Yamaguchi said in an opinion piece that “the IOC also seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important … I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel … We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not.” In countless interviews about China and its preparations for the Winter Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach has not mentioned the situation of the Uyghurs. Nor has he said it was a topic covered in meetings of his executive board. They have to, after all. There’s TV money at stake, championships at stake, conference pride at stake. Those are understandable reasons. But even with some of the magical moments that have happened this season, or the fun that came about from having matchups thrown together on days’ notice, the chances of people looking back fondly on this college football season are slim. In the case of athletes, daily quantitative saliva antigen tests will be administered during their stay in Japan. If an athlete produces a positive result, a second nasal PCR test would be conducted, with results expected in three to five hours. Positive results would send that athlete to a quarantine hotel that has been designated in Tokyo for further monitoring. Death Valley really took on a whole another meaning. October 5, 2020 Rivera underwent treatment last August for a form of skin cancer and said he is immunodeficient. The ACC fall championship schedule will also be maintained with cross country involving all 15 member schools at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, plus field hockey at Duke University and both men’s and women’s soccer championships being held at WakeMed Soccer Park. The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday pushed back on speculation that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games would be postponed or canceled, saying playbooks with specific plans to combat COVID-19 will be delivered in early February to National Olympic Committees and the Games will proceed as planned. The issue of equality will not be going away once the weight facilities in San Antonio are updated. UConn Coach Geno Auriemma — who is in quarantine and will miss the women’s opening weekend after testing positive for COVID-19 — said inside the two controlled environments, the men’s teams are using daily PCR tests and women’s teams are using daily antigen tests, which are less accurate than the “gold standard” of PCR testing. Others have taken note of the different setups the NCAA has for the Division II Men’s Tournament in Evansville, Indiana, compared to the Women’s Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. “We believe the IOC’s determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence,” the authors stated. “The playbooks maintain that athletes participate at their own risk, while failing both to distinguish the various levels of risk faced by athletes and to recognize the limitations of measures such as temperature screenings and face coverings. Similarly, the IOC has not heeded lessons from other large sporting events. Many U.S.-based professional leagues, including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the Women’s National Basketball Association, conducted successful seasons, but their protocols were rigorous and informed by an understanding of airborne transmission, asymptomatic spread, and the definition of close contacts. Preventive measures, adapted amid continuous expert review, included single hotel rooms for athletes, at least daily testing, and wearable technology for monitoring contacts, supported by rigorous contact tracing.” The track has prepared a nearly 100-page plan that provides guidelines and protocols for how the race will be run this year. Track officials will include safety precautions including the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the required use of masks and distribution of hand sanitizer to all who enter; temperature checks in order to enter; and changes throughout the facility to minimize lines and gathering spots, including limiting concession options to mostly pre-packaged foods. shortened its season by more than half during negotiations that drew heavy criticism from fans about the nature of how they dragged out. Once the season started, the league had multiple teams within the first few weeks deal with COVID-19 outbreaks that at one stretch had the league going more than three weeks with having at least one game per day canceled because of the virus. Neither players, coaches or league officials at the NBA made any qualms about how difficult doing the 2020–2021 season would be especially when compared to the safety of the summer bubble environment in Orlando, Florida. Then there is the last — figuratively and in the power rankings, literally — Power 5 Conference, the Pac-12. The league has said it will not adapt its plans for a conference title game, which means there is the chance a multi-loss team such as Oregon would be in the title game against an unbeaten USC. Colorado, also unbeaten from the South Division but with one less conference game, would be out of luck because the scheduled USC-Colorado game was canceled when USC couldn’t field enough players. The league planned to have a six-game conference-only schedule, but the omens were there at the beginning when the Arizona-Utah game was canceled before the league opener between USC and Arizona State kicked off. Overall, only three teams out of 12 are on track to have a six-game schedule completed. “Our challenge right now … is certainly that we are in a major surge,” Allen Sills , the NFL’s chief medical officer, told The Washington Post recently . “It’s no secret to any of you, nor is it a secret to any of us in medicine, with the impact that the delta variant is having.” “This amicable agreement illustrates the mutual trust between Senegal and the IOC,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. “I am sure that together we will organize fantastic Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 for Senegal, the entire African continent and all the young athletes of the world.” The inaugural Junior Pan American Games, scheduled to be held in Cali, Colombia, has announced that with three months to go before the opening ceremony, it will allow fans from across the world to attend, becoming the first multisport event in the world to allow fans in stadiums since the pandemic began. “The league has very strict protocols,” Schroeppel said. “I think they’ve done everything they can to control transmission in those situations. Of course, when you get a crowd together, it’s going to be very difficult, particularly for those unvaccinated.” “The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation,” said IIHF President René Fasel . “But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure. We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games.” Kathleen McNeely , the NCAA’s chief financial officer, told ESPN “ have different budgets, but the difference in the budgets is because of the scale of the two tournaments … and the nuances in the delivery, which tend to be committee decisions on how they’re going to deliver those championships.” The league also is pointing to a recent study done by a team led by Hockey Graphs’ Asmae Toumi that compared COVID rates in 361 counties that hosted games with fans to similar counties without NFL or college football, showing local COVID-19 caseloads . But the WTA Tour’s second-ranked player, Naomi Osaka , said she is conflicted whether the Olympics should be held. Osaka would represent the home country in the event and is currently at the Italian Open in preparation for the year’s second Grand Slam, the French Open, which starts later this month. “While it is tremendously disappointing to suspend the spring 2021 football season, it is the right decision with regards to the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans,” MEAC Commissioner Dennis E. Thomas said. “As I have stated since the beginning of the pandemic, health and safety will continue to be at the forefront of every decision. We support those institutions who will continue to play.” “There are many stakeholders of the IOC and so forth. People related to key clients. And for those people they are regarded as organizers of the games and they are not spectators,” Muto said. Among the steps that will be taken to protect fan safety include venue capacity reductions with access throughout the facility severely limited; barn area access restricted to essential personnel; a revised Fan Code of Conduct that will encourage those on the grounds to wear masks at all times; and changes to in-venue operations to limit person-to-person touchpoints. Washington is not doing anything to identify players who are or are not vaccinated, but the way that some teams are — reportedly — has become a topic of discussion this week. “Obviously we’ll be in communication with the Southeastern Conference and probably get Missouri, obviously as our next opponent, to kind of keep them abreast of what we’re seeing,” Stricklin said. “We’ll continue as I said our regular testing protocol for those who aren’t in quarantine, and hopefully we don’t have any more positives and we’re able to get on the other side of this and then we can get everyone back in a situation where you can go compete again.” Bach’s visit coincided with the official opening of the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay. Organizers did not offer an immediate count of how many athletes were on hand. Any hopes of this season being smoother were laid by the wayside over the weekend as the league proposed to the MLB Players Association delaying the start of the 2021 season and having 154 games instead of 162, moving the season opener to late April. Included in the proposal was an expanded playoff and many of the same rules that were put in place on a one-time-only basis last season. “The number-one thing fans can do to ensure a great Race Day is get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles said. “We continue to offer vaccinations at IMS and will be extending our mass vaccination clinic throughout the Month of May. This is all part of the effort to continue getting Indiana back on track.” NCAA President Mark Emmert has released a statement saying that an independent review will be undertaken about how the organization sets up its collegiate championships after the past week and multiple stories about the differences between the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tournament. The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have released the first of four “playbooks” with initial details of the COVID-mitigation plan, spelling out what will be required of international federation representatives and technical officials , including judges and referees, during the Games. While playbooks for athletes, broadcast media and accredited press will be released in coming days, the IF playbook is expected to be an indication of what the IOC will require for anyone traveling to Tokyo. Updates to the documents are expected in April and June, although the first version highlights the baseline measures the IOC and Tokyo 2020 intend to take. Notably for the NFL compared to college football, “if a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week scheduled due to a Covid outbreak, neither team’s players will receive their weekly paragraph 5 salary,” the NFL’s memo said, adding that the team responsible for the cancelled game due to unvaccinated players will cover financial losses and be subject to potential discipline from the commissioner’s office. As the Power 5 Conferences continue to shift and adapt to the landscape, several other conferences are also trying to wrap around a new reality. The Big South joined a lengthening list of those who will not have fall sports with the intent to play in the spring — with a twist. The league will allow its football teams to play up to four non-conference games this fall at their discretion; some of the league’s football programs would likely be looking to fill in for FBS teams that now have holes in a schedule and want to fill them with willing opponents while also allowing the Big South teams to try and get potential revenue as a buy game. Before the pandemic, back when Tokyo’s notorious summer heat was the biggest concern on organizers’ minds, the marathon and race walking events were moved to the cooler climes of Sapporo. But after a meeting with Sapporo officials, Tokyo 2020 announced that they want spectators to stay away from the route, which will be held on public streets. The Southeastern Conference will have more than half of its teams sitting out this weekend after the fourth postponement on the league’s schedule was announced. The Georgia at Missouri game has been postponed due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Missouri football program. The first in-market game was August 16, when FC Dallas hosted Nashville SC. FC Dallas will allow up to 5,110 fans at Toyota Stadium for its home games with masks mandatory for those in attendance. Real Salt Lake will allow up to 5,000 fans to attend and Sporting Kansas City will allow for 2,500 fans to be at its home games. And through every news cycle, whether filled with subtle hints or outright troll proposals, those in the Olympic movement have been emphatic in the resolve to hold the Games: “The Tokyo Games are definitely on,” Australian Olympic Committee chief Matt Carroll said on January 22. “The flame will be lit on the 23rd of July.” The International Olympic Committee will not require vaccines for athletes, media and other accredited officials traveling to the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games but has begun to outline how those groups will be tested and monitored for COVID-19 during the events in Tokyo. N.Y. Giants at Baltimore: No fans allowed Atlanta at Kansas City: Up to 16,811 fans allowed Carolina at Washington: No fans allowed Cleveland at N.Y. Jets: No fans allowed Chicago at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans allowed Cincinnati at Houston: Up to 14,444 fans allowed Indianapolis at Pittsburgh: No fans allowed Denver at L.A. Chargers: No fans allowed Philadelphia at Dallas: Up to 30,000-plus fans allowed L.A. Rams at Seattle: No fans allowed Tennessee at Green Bay: Up to 500 employees and family members allowed While athletes and others involved with the Games begin packing for Tokyo, one of the next steps in the road to the Opening Ceremony will be the arrival of IOC President  Thomas Bach  on July 8, before he s pends three days in isolation ahead of meetings leading up to the July 23 event. Reports in Britain indicate that for every game, a Safety Advisory Group, which includes representatives of the club, emergency services for the area and the local council, must approve plans for the match, including the attendance of away supporters. The Ravens are the first to announce an exact cap on attendances. M&T Bank Stadium’s capacity for the Ravens is 71,008. “These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the league and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.” “I commend the clubs that have hosted vaccination and testing at their ballparks and all of our franchises for promoting health and safety in our communities,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. North Carolina State had only 13 players available for Friday’s 3-1 loss to Vanderbilt after “several players” entered COVID-19 protocols hours before its game. Sam Highfill , the starting pitcher in NC State’s 1-0 win over Vanderbilt earlier in the tournament, was the first baseman Friday and among four players in the batting order who had a combined 27 at-bats. At least one of All-Star Aaron Judge , third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka are not vaccinated, the Yankees said, after they added to the COVID-19 injured list Friday, joining pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga , Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta . Yankees ace Gerrit Cole compared the news to being struck by “an invisible, microscopic truck.” Boston is two games ahead of Oakland for the final wild card spot entering the last month of the regular season. The first in a series of positive tests was last Friday and highlighted by star shortstop Xander Bogaerts getting pulled from Tuesday night’s game against the Rays after the first inning. Meanwhile, a lottery system is being developed to determine which fans will be allowed entry to high-profile events such as the Opening and Closing ceremony and for eight sports: track and field, baseball, soccer, golf, modern pentathlon, rugby sevens, softball and surfing. In total, Tokyo 2020 plans to make 2.7 million tickets available for events with the 50 percent capacity limit. There are 3.63 million tickets currently owned by Japanese spectators. Both Sportsnet and ESPN reported the NHL looked into other locations, specifically Lake Louise, Alberta, which could have hosted Canadian-only matchups, and Park City, Utah. Should the Tahoe event provide a boost to viewership, the league would in theory be able to add inventory to its traditional series of outdoor games. Could the NHL have a Winter Classic at a mega-stadium, a Stadium Series in a smaller market and then a one-off Outdoor Weekend at resorts in the future? There are a number of legal and ethical issues that surround the issue. The legal issues are simple: such a demand must be collectively bargained. The ethical issues go beyond collective bargaining and into debate about race and the shadow of events such as the Tuskegee Experiment that have led to deep-held suspicion of vaccines in some communities. Days after Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey sent a memo to league schools reminding coaches and players to wear masks while on the sideline during games and threatening “additional action” if they do not follow the conference’s COVID-19 protocols, one of the league’s schools said they would no longer require a CDC wellness check before attending games and another promised they would try to do better after several social media posts indicated a failure in fan protocols. The Hornets’ next two games are also postponed via contact tracing. The league also had to postpone a game in Dallas between the Mavericks and Detroit Pistons because of the winter storms in Texas, the 31st postponed game this season. The Pistons will instead play at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night since the Bulls had an open date because of the Hornets’ pause. USA Triathlon also will be canceling its 2020 Youth & Junior Nationals, initially scheduled for August 1–2 in West Chester, Ohio. The Youth & Junior Nationals will return to West Chester’s Voice of America Park on July 31 and August 1, 2021, as well as 2022 with dates to be determined. As congratulations rolled in from everywhere — including this site — on the completion of the regular season, this week has been a reminder that while getting through nearly 300 regular-season games was an impressive feat, the NFL’s biggest feat may be completing the playoffs on time as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating throughout the country. Chase Carey , chairman and CEO of Formula 1, said that he looked forward to welcoming the races back to the schedule in 2021: “We want to pay tribute to our incredible partners in the Americas and look forward to being back with them next season when they will once again be able to thrill millions of fans around the world.” While the NFL’s season is scheduled to end on Sunday with the Super Bowl, the league’s work will continue into the offseason with an emphasis on vaccinations in the continuing fight against COVID-19. The full impact of restricted attendance will still be a downturn for both states’ economies. A study from Arizona State University found that the Cactus League’s season generated an estimated economic impact of $363.6 million in 2020 before the shutdown in mid-March, which was down nearly $300 million from the estimated $644.2 million generated in 2018. “The Japanese people are feeling very insecure and at the same time probably feel some frustration at us talking about the Olympics and I think that is giving rise to more voices opposing having the Games in Tokyo,” Hashimoto added. “The biggest challenge will be how we can control and manage the flow of people. If an outbreak should happen during the Games times that amounts to a crisis or an emergency situation then I believe we must be prepared to have these Games without any spectators.” “You cannot sustain this league with no fans,” Lacob told ESPN. “You can do it for a year. We’ll all get by for a year. But suppose we’re in this situation next year. Now we’re talking some serious, serious financial damage to a lot of people.” This year’s game will be the Jaguars’ eighth game in London; it will be the fifth trip for the Dolphins and the second apiece for the Jets and Falcons. The NFL started playing games in London in 2007 and played at least one game there every season until last year. While the NFL played in Mexico City each year from 2016–2019, it does not have a game there this season. But with the expansion of the regular season to 17 games starting this fall, up to four neutral-site games will be scheduled starting in 2022 with the initial focus on resuming games in Mexico and continuing its presence London plus potentially games in Canada, Europe and South America. “The health and safety of U.S. athletes, coaches and staff is always the No. 1 concern for USA Wrestling. After reviewing updated medical, scientific and government data, and providing an opportunity for athlete and stakeholder input, the Executive Committee concluded that it would not be in the best interest of all involved to organize a delegation to travel to and participate in the Senior World Championships in Serbia,” USA Wrestling President Bruce Baumgartner said. Smart said during the SEC Media Days that more than 90 percent of Georgia’s players, coaches and staff members had been vaccinated. On Monday, his tone was even more serious. While the Golden State Warriors have already announced that only vaccinated fans will be allowed at home games ahead of the 2021–2022 NBA season, those who want to go to a San Francisco 49ers game at Levi’s Stadium will be able to go without a mask while outdoors at home games. But indoors in club spaces and other spots, fans will be expected to have masks on regardless of vaccination status. While there have been sporadic cancellations since, MLB has been able to continue toward the end of its season with much fewer interruptions. Notably, the season has been held without fans but done without teams entering a bubble atmosphere like many of the other professional leagues that resumed play during the summer. “I think it’s a great motivation to get everybody vaccinated and to me that’s paramount, obviously,” Portland Trail Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said recently . “And it should be good motivation to get vaccinated. But I look forward to that day when we are able to take advantage of all those things that are being loosen up.” At this rate, you probably can’t count out the number of teams in the fall playing four games, either. “We’ve got to do something about this now or the season will be destroyed,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said after his team’s season opener, an 85-84 win over Bryant played the day after the Orange were cleared to practice as a group after a 14-day shutdown. “Because if you have your team sit for 14 days and you can’t practice, then you can’t play. You can’t come off that and play Virginia, Duke or North Carolina. … You would need seven or eight days to even come close to being ready.” The April 17 start is a two-week delay from the originally scheduled date. It will make the season even more compressed for MLS, which is scheduled to have a 34-game regular season plus various teams playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, All-Star Game and Leagues Cup during the summer. While IOC officials have defended the playbooks, on Wednesday, Tokyo 2020 announced that it would host an “expert roundtable” on Friday to dive into the proposed COVID-19 countermeasures planned for the Games. Details on who would be involved in the roundtable were not released, but Tokyo 2020 said the discussion “will be hosted in order to obtain guidance on specific measures that can be implemented in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Tokyo 2020 Games and allow these to be held safely and securely.” Speaking of Euro 2020, it was at that event in which restricted numbers of fans were allowed to attend every game and in London, the number of fans increased exponentially as the tournament went on, which led to a near-capacity crowd as Italy beat the hosts in penalty kicks to win the championship. Now two months later, Public Health England said 2,295 people were likely to have been infectious with a further 3,404 people potentially acquiring infection at the July 11 championship match. The torch relay is set. National governing bodies across the United States are preparing for their Olympic trials to go on as scheduled. The International Olympic Committee has issued playbooks to outline procedures for athletes, officials and media. And in recent weeks, the IOC has been insistent to the point of annoyance that it will not even consider canceling or postponing the Olympic Summer Games in late July and the Paralympic Games in August. The NCAA Tournament is a wonderful feast for basketball fans by its own but in many ways, it’s not a true March Madness unless you start with the conference tournaments as the best appetizer possible. But while the NCAA Tournament has settled on its setup for this season with an Indianapolis-based bubble, conferences are now being faced with a multitude of questions about their sites, setups and viability in a COVID-affected season. The NFL has moved games back repeatedly this season because of COVID-19 outbreaks among teams, most notably when the Tennessee Titans’ game against the Steelers was delayed for a week and set off a chain reaction of schedule adjustments throughout the league. But to have a game switched around so many times this deep into the season is needed for teams such as the Ravens and Steelers who are both deep in the AFC playoff race with the Ravens holding onto a wild-card spot and the Steelers, the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, holding a half-game advantage for the top seed in the AFC and a potential bye for the start of the expanded playoffs. The College Football Playoff will consider expanding to 12 teams, with six spots reserved for the highest-ranked conference champions and the other six going to at-large selections. The plan will almost assuredly be approved by the end of the year with implementation as soon as 2024, but more likely not until after 2026. The protocols include players only allowed to bring their caddie plus two support team members. Anyone traveling to England from the United States currently must be tested prior to departure and quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or five days with a negative COVID test. The four people including the player are exempt from the quarantine criteria. The 2021 CFP, won by a dominant Alabama team over Ohio State, was marked by Alabama’s win over Notre Dame in the semifinals in the Rose Bowl game — which for the first time since 1942 was played somewhere other than the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The move to Arlington, Texas, was announced after the state of California announced that the game would have to be played without fans, which was an unpopular decision to the CFP. Within weeks of the state’s announcement, the game was officially moved to AT&T Stadium and the game was able to go ahead still with the “Rose Bowl” name. The NCAA released its guidance for fall training and competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday with many collegiate conferences preparing to release its own rules in the weeks to come. The NCAA 2021 Fall Training and Competition document includes testing, quarantine, isolation, and other athletic and nonathletic activity considerations for unvaccinated and fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals such as student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials. At least in comparison to the Big Ten, which was racked by criticism during its first announcement of canceling the fall season before reversing field, the Pac-12’s decision when announced in August was almost universally accepted by the league’s coaches and players. But when the league was able to gain access to daily rapid testing for all players and staff members, it accelerated the timetable for a return to play — with the desire to not miss out on a chance to have a team in the College Football Playoff when other Power 5 conferences were going ahead with fall seasons. One sport that has tried to put together as much of a worldwide schedule as possible is the WTA and ATP tennis tours. After a summer resumption of play in the United States with a tightened bubble doubleheader event in New York City capped by a U.S. Open without fans, the tour then quickly transitioned to clay court events in Europe with the French Open recently completed to cap the Grand Slam season. NASCAR has announced that it will cancel its postseason Champion’s Week and NASCAR Cup Series Awards, which had been scheduled for Nashville, Tennessee. The NHL Winter Classic would have had the St. Louis Blues traveling to face the Minnesota Wild, while the Florida Panthers were going to host the All-Star Weekend. Both events have been postponed due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus, but the NHL said it does intend to return to both Minnesota and Florida in the future. Rutgers University also announced that all of its athletic venues will operate with 500 or fewer in attendance and safety precautions will be in place for those fans who come to sporting events there. “Although we have repeatedly noted that all fall plans are subject to public health conditions, we understand that this news will be disappointing,” Cal said in a statement, which pointedly did not mention athletics. “Many faculty and students continue to look forward to resumption of some element of in-person instruction. We will continue to work hard on our plans, and to learn from the setbacks as well as the advances.” The USTA National Championships for boys 18s singles and boys and girls 18s–12 doubles at the national campus in Orlando, Florida will be affected along with the girls 18s national championship in San Diego , the boys 16s at Rome, Georgia , and the girls 16s at Mobile, Alabama . Adult events canceled included the men’s 65 national indoors at Eden Prairie, Minnesota ; men’s and women’s open national grass court championships at Newport, Rhode Island ; and the men’s 75 & 80 mother/son national grass court championships at Rumford, Rhode Island . The Packers will have a slight increase in attendance for the NFC Championship game against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers: 6,500 plus families and workers will be welcome on Sunday. Another player who has become famous in the preseason for avoiding vaccination is Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins . Cousins chooses “to keep my medical history private,” and was deemed a high-risk close contact when rookie QB Kellen Mond tested positive earlier this month. That designation, per NFL policy, is reserved for unvaccinated players. Cousins said after returning that he would go so far as to set up Plexiglass around himself for team meetings or ask that all meetings be held outdoors, which would be quite the scene during Minnesota winters. ESPN reported that Fury tested positive on July 5 and has been in the U.S. since being cleared to return to England on Tuesday. Fury has received one vaccine shot. “This is a great day not just for Grandma’s Marathon but our community as well,” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “So many people had a hand in making this event a reality this year, and to be here today with the final approval is a testament to the effort everyone’s put in.” The financial ramifications of not having fans would be an added toll for Tokyo organizers who have already seen the Games’ budget go up substantially even before the postponement to 2021 added another layer of costs. Not having fans at all at the Games would mean ticket refunds of up to $800 million, according to a based on organizing committee records. Qatar’s government announced over the weekend that it will require spectators at the 2022 World Cup to have received coronavirus vaccines to attend. The Middle East’s first World Cup is due to start Nov. 21, 2022. Muto also seemed to rule out fans entering from outside of Japan who may have received tickets from deep-pocketed sponsors. The scouting processes the past year has been adjusted heavily. Instead of NFL teams sending people out on the road all fall and into the spring to do individual workouts, teams had little to no access to college prospects during the fall. The annual combine in Indianapolis was canceled, so teams could only see players during an on-campus pro days with performances that are heavily scripted to show off their positives with none of the negatives. Brooks said not requiring face covering “is a decision we made that we feel comfortable with.” All attendees will be required to wear face coverings and observe physical distancing in pods during championship events, the NCAA said. Championships hosted in cities and states that do not allow spectators or where the site is deemed to lack the capacity for spectators from a health and safety standpoint will allow only essential personnel. “He was a very low grade, but it is still positive,” Nill said. “Out of safety concerns, he was pulled. But yes he has been vaccinated. His first vaccination was back sometime in January. He’s had both vaccinations.” Meanwhile, several races in recent days have announced their plans to return in-person. One of those is in Buffalo, New York, where some of the nation’s most restrictive countermeasures are starting to ease. Among the SEC’s guidelines for all stadiums is that face coverings over the nose and mouth must be worn throughout the stadium. There will be barriers installed at points of sale for food and beverage with concessions staffers wearing masks and all tickets will be digitally scanned. The full list of stadium guidelines can be viewed here. With reschedulings and the Olympic Summer Games looming as well, the schedule will be packed for elite competitors and raise questions as to how many races at which they would be able to compete. The women’s Olympic marathon is August 7 with the men’s marathon the day after, followed by the Berlin Marathon on September 26 and London Marathon on October 3. One week later is the Chicago Marathon on October 10, then the Boston Marathon the day after, and the Tokyo Marathon on October 17 before the New York City Marathon on November 7. • This year’s Triple Crown of horse racing will be unlike any other in its history, with the 152nd annual Belmont Stakes — traditionally the final leg of the three biggest races in the world — instead going first this year on June 20 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York . It will be the first time in the history of the Triple Crown that the Belmont will be the first leg. The Belmont Stakes, which will be held without fans, will also be shortened to a mile and an eighth instead of its traditional mile and a half distance, the longest of any Triple Crown race. The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland will take place on October 3, announced The Stronach Group Chairman and President Belinda Stronach and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan over the weekend. The Preakness will now be held four weeks after the 146th Louisville, Kentucky, which was postponed from May 2 to September 5. The Kentucky Oaks will move from its previous date on May 1 to September 4 and the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival will also shift in conjunction with the new race dates. Behar said fans who are able to be at Yankee Stadium will see some of the work that has been put in to earn the WELL rating — things such as signage communicating health protocols for fans — but there also is a lot that goes on behind the scenes by addressing one area of concern: The Yankees knew how to clean the facility, but how do you disinfect a facility? As for the food? Here’s a sample of what will be on the menu: In trying to move past last year’s controversial realignment, Minor League Baseball seems to be rejuvenated. But the road is still hard for any minor league and that was emphasized recently when one of the two Canadian hockey teams in the ECHL had to stop operations and folded. The Brampton Beast in Ontario, which had opted out of the league’s 2021 season after having shut down before the 2020 season could be completed, is no more after President and General Manager Cary Kaplan said “three seasons of Covid was just too much for our modest hockey team to sustain.” One intriguing tidbit about the schedule is normally, a Power 5 team would have six home games each season. Because the ACC’s 10-game conference schedule includes five home games, some schools may lose a potential home game if its non-conference game is on the road. Notre Dame’s traditionally has games against Navy and Southern Cal; the game against the Trojans had already been canceled because of the Pac-12’s decision on conferencely-only play, while the Navy game is currently scheduled to be played in Annapolis, Maryland. It would be the first time that Navy has ever hosted Notre Dame at home — and only because the game’s was moved to Annapolis from its original site in Dublin, Ireland. Now under the ACC’s protocols, should Notre Dame make Navy its one non-conference game, it would have to be moved into the state of Indiana. The NFL found that transmission of the virus occurred in less than 15 minutes of cumulative interaction between individuals, the timeframe initially used in the CDC’s definition of “close contact.” Evidence generated by the data has led to a revised definition of high-risk contacts that led contact tracers and medical experts to consider information beyond duration and distance, such as masking and ventilation when making safety recommendations. That data also was a driving factor in the midseason launch of the stricter sets of virus prevention measures imposed at teams in response to a positive case and eventually adopted throughout the league that included virtual-only meetings, limited outdoor gatherings, increased physical distancing and mask wearing at all times even during practices and on the sidelines at games. “Unfortunately, current COVID-19 restrictions in New Jersey eliminate the possibility of drawing a national field for this event,” said Brian D’Amico , director of events at USA Triathlon. “While it is always disappointing to cancel a national championship, we are confident this is the only feasible decision that is fair to all athletes.” The playbooks, the piece continued, should distinguish between riskier events, which include indoor events where air circulation could be compromised. The documents, authors said, should also address differences among venues, including noncompetition spaces such as smaller, enclosed spaces where many athletes congregate, including stadiums, buses, cafeterias and hotels. Then there is the case of the Florida teams given that Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins can have capacity crowds going forward. None of the teams said they would do so; the Dolphins explicitly said it would remain at its cap of 13,000, which has not been reached at either of its home games so far this season. The Jaguars said they would allow up to 17,000 fans but through two games are averaging 15,331; the Buccaneers have drawn an average of 6,383 through two games. Statement regarding this Saturday's Washington at Cal #Pac12FB game: November 5, 2020 “If the players could get it, I would be in favor of it,” Lacob said. “I want my entire organization to get vaccinated — I just think it’s the right thing to do. We’re engaged with the public. It’s a safety thing.” “Just gotta put a plan together, go find a way to win,” said Stefanski, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer has been named acting head coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt would call plays. “We would never want to minimize what is happening from a human rights aspect in China,” Lyons said, before adding the USOPC does not support a boycott. She later added, “You have to understand the impact in 1980 when we boycotted. What was meant to be accomplished by that boycott did not get accomplished.” The Warriors are one of four NBA teams in California; the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers have said they will not have fans at home games in the Staples Center until further notice and the Sacramento Kings have not formally announced its policy. Other teams throughout the NBA would almost assuredly be unable to host fans under current governmental restrictions. And given that the NFL has seen three teams reverse its policy on having fans in the stands at outdoor venues because of rising numbers of COVID-19 positive cases in their markets, there would seem to be doubt over the ability to have fans at indoor venues. There also is the unresolved question of where the Toronto Raptors would play if the Canadian government does not grant them a waiver on cross-border travel. While the league had early challenges keeping its own players COVID-free this year, new regulations that were placed on teams — including recommendations that players don’t even go the grocery store during their off time — appear to be working. On February 12, the league had a high of 59 players on the COVID list. On March 10, the number was four. And then there is Arkansas, the most improved team in the league thanks to new head coach Sam Pittman — who tested positive on Sunday and will be self-isolating while the defensive coordinator, Barry Odom , serves as the Razorbacks’ interim head coach. Arkansas’ game against Florida is still on as scheduled. The initial announcement of having the Lake Tahoe event was well-received by many casual fans of the NHL and some of the early photos of the Populous-designed setup have drawn rave reviews with the rink set up on a fairway by the lake at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort and a ‘chalet’ that will house the locker rooms and assorted event personnel and media. Memphis’ outbreak came after a non-conference game; among the Power 5 Conferences, only the ACC and Big 12 allowed schools to have non-conference games and now that they are into conference play, the ACC is having to move games around — the latest being announced on Tuesday afternoon as Notre Dame, having had seven players test positive this week, was forced to postpone its game scheduled for September 26 against Wake Forest. “We don’t have another game for a month, so that gives our fans time to go through the process of the CLEAR signing-up,” Davis said. But this year, the league told teams, “if a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams,” and the game will be registered as a forfeit. The memo was sent two days after the Southeastern Conference said that it would have games forfeited by teams who are unable to have the minimum number of eligible players available as well. “This will be an unprecedented and historic year for the TCS New York City Marathon as one of the most iconic New York sporting events makes its return,” said Ted Metellus , race director for TCS New York City Marathon. “As we stage a safe and memorable race for the 50th running, this year’s marathon will showcase our great city’s strength, inspiration, and determination.” The sport of golf was one of the first to return from a COVID-enforced pause across the sports world last summer. And recreationally, the sport has seen strong numbers in participation given its outside setting along with its natural tendency to be socially distanced — especially if the foursome you play with at the local club has some strong hooks and slices off the tee. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says fans would have to prove they’ve tested negative for COVID-19 before entering the stadium and that the Bills will set up contact tracing protocols for all in attendance after the game. Fans without masks would be thrown out. The official approval by owners on Tuesday for an expanded season will mean up to four international games each year, chosen from among the home games of the teams in whichever conference has nine home games in that particular season. It would guarantee that each team goes overseas at least once in an eight-year period. The NFL said on Tuesday that scheduling in a country outside the United States will focus on Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and the United Kingdom. After moving all its scheduled live events in 2020 to online events last year, the Call of Duty League has announced its gradual return to in-person competition, although fans will not yet be on hand. China has denied committing genocide against the Uyghur people, calling such accusations “the lie of the century” and that any threatened Olympic boycott “is doomed to failure.” The NFL has played through a pandemic that nearly enveloped two teams, has affected every single team and forced dozens of games to be played in stadiums closed off to fans. “It’s unclear yet,” Silver said. “ Larry Tanenbaum , who is the governor of the team and happens to be the chairman of the board of the NBA, he’s very hopeful that Ontario will open up and that they will be able to have the team back in Toronto. I know it’s incredibly meaningful to the team. I think there was that yet additional burden placed on the Raptors more than any other team by having to relocate for the season. But we are hopeful the team will be back if things continue as we’re seeing in Canada right now.” In a statement, the Pac-12 confirmed that testing revealed the Sun Devils and Utes would not have the minimum number of scholarship players available. The league hopes the delay will allow for more Canadians to receive vaccinations and thus increase chances of fans being in the stands at some point. Global Medical Response, the emergency medical and ambulance company, will be the presenting sponsor of what will be IndyCar’s penultimate race of the season. “Again, I hope for the postseason, we’ll have some limited fan presence in ballparks,” Manfred said during the webinar. “I think it would be a good thing just in terms of getting people used to the idea being back in the ballpark, and again, I think the trick in terms of what’s going to happen next year, it’s dependent on the virus. The virus controls and it’s ‘Do you have a vaccine? Are we still seeing spikes?’ That’s going to drive what local governments are going to allow us to do.” Adam Silver remembers nearly every moment from March 11, 2020. From the moment that he first heard from the Oklahoma commissioner of health to the hurried decision before tipoff to cancel a game between Oklahoma City and Utah after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. As of Sunday’s COVID-19 protocol-related absences report, the Sabres had nine players plus coach Ralph Krueger , the Devils had 16 players and the Wild had nine. The Wild have not played since February 2 and the Devils have not played since January 31 at the Sabres. Almost 100 players have been taken off the ice since the season began — and the season was already abbreviated to 56 games with all games being in-division play. The season overall has been disrupted on a weekly basis by the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams postponing and canceling games and trying to throw together games on short notice — unique in a sport where games are sometimes scheduled up to a decade in advance. Even teams that have not had games postponed have been affected, most visibly when No. 1-ranked Clemson lost its star quarterback, Trevor Lawrence , last week and nearly were upset by Boston College. Lawrence will remain on the sidelines when the Tigers play at No. 4 Notre Dame in a high-profile Saturday night kickoff. First, there was one of — if not the — most dramatic buzzer-beaters in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament history when Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs banked in a 37-footer to lead the Zags to an overtime win over UCLA in an absolutely exquisite basketball game, easily the best game of the season and one that will go down in the game’s history. It also led to a title game matchup between Gonzaga and Baylor, the undisputed two best teams overall this season, with the Bears cruising to a 86-70 victory. March will be the third time the Alamodome hosts the Women’s Final Four along with 2002 and 2010, which set the NCAA title game attendance record with 29,619 as UConn beat Stanford. Holzman said that no decision has been made yet on attendance for this year’s event, adding “if general public attendance is determined to be appropriate, it will follow local health guidelines.” Holzman said the NCAA hopes to allow up to six family members and friends of student-athletes to attend games, but county health authorities will have the final say. Concerned over the capacity restrictions at the smaller Enterprise Center, USA Gymnastics has announced it will move the location of its upcoming Olympic Team Trials to The Dome at America’s Center , where an estimated 10,000 people per session are expected to be allowed. Tennessee opens the season on September 12 against Arizona. The Titans practiced Monday but Vrabel scrapped scheduled practices Wednesday and Thursday to focus on meetings, conditioning work and weightlifting instead. The NCAA estimated it cost $14 million to create the men’s setup in Indianapolis and $16 million for the women’s setup in San Antonio. The NCAA also told ESPN that the men’s basketball tournament pays for nearly every other NCAA championship across all divisions except for four: Division I baseball, men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse and men’s wrestling. “I look at all of that stuff as very personal, very choice-driven and nobody needs to know what people’s choices are,” two-time Cup champ Kyle Busch said. “But now everybody’s asking for vaccination status cards and everything and where you go, so I guess HIPAA doesn’t exist anymore,” he said, referring to the federal law restricting release of medical information which many athletes have consistently misunderstood when evading questions about vaccinations. Pocono’s announcement comes less than a week after Atlanta Motor Speedway announced that it will be at 100 percent capacity when the Cup Series visits on July 11. The next several races for NASCAR, including this weekend’s Mother’s Day race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, are still listed as having limited in-person attendance. “What matters is not so much to have the playbooks—they are very important,” said Christophe Dubi , executive director of the Olympic Games. “It’s to respect the playbook, to respect the rules. I’m certain that a very good majority will respect the rules.” Poloncarz said he knows that fans have a personal choice in whether or not to get vaccinated but added “there’s no God-given right to attend a football game.” When no fans in attendance, the USTA has worked with ESPN and IBM to bring authentic crowd sounds into the presentation of matches. Fans also can win an Official US Open At-Home Suite including a player towel, hat, can of balls and Grey Goose Honey Deuce cup along with a US Open program and tournament guide. Masks for both teams. pic.twitter.com/WYC4tdxs7N — Jeff Goodman January 5, 2021 The SEC already had to cancel one game for this coming weekend, Auburn at Mississippi State, because of an outbreak of positives on the Bulldogs. The game will be rescheduled for December 12, which means that neither team has any margin of error the rest of the season with the SEC title game scheduled for December 19. The LSU-Alabama game cannot be rescheduled for December 12, because LSU has a previously postponed game against Florida already rescheduled for that date. San Fran was originally playing Army today, replacing St. Bonaventure in Bubbleville. Stephen F. Austin leaves among other programs, schedules are shuffled and the Dons get the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers instead- and win. Bill Russell must be smiling.— Chuckie Maggio November 27, 2020 The Dolphins’ announcement came before the NFL announced its results from a round of COVID-19 testing throughout the league. From August 12–20, the league had 58,397 tests administered to players and personnel with zero positive tests among players and six among personnel. The team also said that it will provide vaccinations on gamedays outside of the stadium as well as non-gameday vaccination events throughout the region in the fall. The NFL is — as of this moment — not planning to adjust its schedule for the weekend, but one pro sports league had to cancel a game this previous weekend: Major League Soccer postponed the game between Colorado and Sporting Kansas City after two players and 10 staff members of the Rapids tested positive for COVID-19. Colorado’s next game is scheduled to be October 3 against the Portland Timbers and start a stretch of five games for the team in a 15-day period; the status of that game is uncertain. While some of this season’s unique aspects have shown some signs of fan approval — especially the all-Canadian division — the protocols that the league and union agreed upon have not worked flawlessly. The league last week put in more enhanced protocols including taking out the glass behind the player benches in arenas to improve air flow. One of the sports that brought back restricted numbers of fans last summer before many other leagues, NASCAR is following the trend of other outdoor sports and having even more tracks announce that they will have 100 percent capacity as the Cup Series continues to roll on throughout the country. NFL rules this season say teams must have at least eight offensive linemen on the game day roster; with contact tracing underway, the Raiders only have five linemen on the active roster during practice this week. “All of those fans for Knicks playoff games are going to be loud, they’re going to be passionate and they’re going to be ready,” Dolan said. “The Garden is going to rock.” To say that the league has handled the season flawlessly would be incorrect. The Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens had team outbreaks that threatened games not only for their respective teams, but necessitated schedule changes that affected several other teams. The Raiders earlier this season and the Carolina Panthers this week had players fined for not complying with the league’s COVID-19 protocols by either not wearing masks when in social settings or gathering in groups when expressly told not to do so. The Raiders and Saints have had late-round 2021 NFL Draft picks taken away for breaking protocols and other teams have had fines levied. One team that has not had to deal with a positive test this week, the Arizona Cardinals, announced it will have 1,200 fans for its October 25 home game against the Seattle Seahawks. The Cardinals will be the 16th out of 32 NFL teams to have some level of attendance at home games this season. The 1,200 fans will be less than two percent of State Farm Stadium’s capacity. The Chargers, Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Raiders, Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions, Bills, Jets, Giants, Patriots, Saints, Washington and Ravens are the teams that have yet to play in front of a home crowd, although the Vikings have been allowed to have up to 250 family members in attendance for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Saudi Arabia’s national federation asked at the May congress to explore World Cups being staged every two years. The South American confederation, CONMEBOL, and France have promoted the idea. Countries from the Confederation of African Football, CAF, have been trying to get public sentiment toward expansion as well. The league has not had a positive COVID-19 test since the start of the regular season on May 14 while MLB, NHL and the NBA have each had at least one positive test in the past two weeks. Traditionally held in the spring, this year’s French Open will start September 21. The French federation previously planned for up to 60 percent capacity per day before changing its expectations. The move will take the game away from Las Vegas, which was set to host the competition for the first time at Allegiant Stadium. In announcing the move, the Pac-12 said the game will be staged in 2021 in Las Vegas after consultation with the stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders, the Las Vegas CVA and MGM Resorts International. After the game, that all was jumbled into a cloud of confusion and controversy as MLB’s postseason bubble was breached and the Dodgers’ postgame celebration left many on social media cringing given what had been revealed on TV right after the final pitch — Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner had tested positive for COVID-19, which is why he left the game in the eighth inning. Some teams in Major League Soccer do not know where they will play this season, but each of the league’s teams now know when MLS’ 26th season will open. The ’s Isobel Cup Playoffs will be held March 26–27 in Brighton, Massachusetts, with four teams competing for the title after the league’s bubble concept in Lake Placid, New York, in February was postponed after several positive tests on multiple teams. The Mountain West is home to Boise State, one of the sport’s mid-major powerhouses, and traditionally is known as one of the best non-Power 5 leagues in the FBS. Along with the MW and MAC, individual programs such as the University of Massachusetts, University of Connecticut and Old Dominion University individually have canceled play. For his part, Bach said he has received no official notification from anyone in Florida about their interest. The NFL has staged 28 games in London since 2007 and will play two more in October. Its next stop looks to be Germany , with the league aiming for possible expansion of the International Series into mainland Europe. It has hired The Sports Consultancy, which is based in London, to work with cities on proposals. For Olympic sports, the league will allow competition to start on September 10 with a NCAA-mandated minimum amount of conference games in field hockey , women’s and men’s soccer and volleyball . Each school will be allowed to schedule additional games at their discretion both against conference and non-conference teams, provided those teams meet the ACC’s medical standards. But any conference games beyond the NCAA minimum will not count toward the league standings. The Ivy League’s decision is not the first adjustment for college football, although all Football Bowl Subdivision teams are still on track to play a full schedule. The Patriot Leagu announced in June that its fall sports, including football would play league competition but travel by airplane would not be permitted. Fordham’s football program has canceled its first three games including a September 12 game at Hawaii. Last week, Lafayette canceled its season-opening game at Navy. The English Premier League will allow clubs to welcome full-capacity crowds for the first time since March 2020 — but fans must either be fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the game. Fans were permitted in limited numbers toward the end of last season as certain COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and London’s Wembley Stadium during this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament held tens of thousands of fans at games, including a near-sellout in the championship loss to Italy. The UK government also approved Wembley Stadium to host matches in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 at 50 percent capacity, around 45,000 — approximately double from what the group stage matches will have for attendance. The two major sports events are being made exempt from strict capacity limits despite the government’s decision to delay the easing of all remaining coronavirus restrictions until July 19. McCrimmon and Ducharme are both isolating. Ducharme received his second vaccination less than two weeks ago — before he became fully vaccinated — and said he is not experiencing any symptoms. The series is the first time NHL teams have crossed the Canadian and United States border since the postseason bubble in 2020. The Hawaii and Bahamas Bowls are owned and operated by ESPN Events. College basketball tournaments traditionally held in Hawaii and the Bahamas have also been canceled for this season. The NFL avoided a major catastrophe to its schedule on Wednesday night when the Baltimore Ravens played at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Each team had its games in Week 13 pushed back – Pittsburgh to this coming Monday, Baltimore to this coming Tuesday — and as a result, the league does not have to implement an extra week to the regular season. Mercedes-Benz Stadium implemented an updated mask policy when the Falcons opened the preseason on Friday, requiring masks in enclosed areas such as club spaces and retail stores. Masks are “strongly encouraged” for fans and employees in all other areas of the stadium but the Falcons said “at this time, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will not go back to a limited seating capacity unless mandated by MLS or the NFL.” The Big Ten Conference has made the biggest move in adjusting the collegiate fall sports landscape, announcing that it will be having only conference games in all fall sports and canceling non-conference events — while also not making a guarantee that even conference games would be held because of the shifting landscape resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tokyo organizers had counted on $800 million in ticket revenue for the Games. Organizers had sold around 4.45 million tickets domestically and 600,000 to overseas fans before the Games were postponed last April. They later received around 810,000 requests for domestic refunds due to the pandemic. The IOC, on the other hand, will earn up to $4 billion in income from a television-only event regardless — but while fans will not be allowed, that does not mean the stands at events will be empty. That is because VIPs, sponsors and other dignitaries of the IOC will be allowed to attend the Opening Ceremony on July 23 and other events. Organizing Committee Chief Executive Toshiro Muto said two weeks ago members of the “Olympic family” would be allowed into venues as “organizers.” /Verne voice: "OH MY!" pic.twitter.com/sDAs6ZxCzt — Kyle Porter May 23, 2021 Yet even with new league partners and fans who like the regular season schedules, there is one event that will attract multiples more attention than anything the league has done this season: This weekend when the league has two games at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, as the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights play in the Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday before the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers play in the Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday. The postponement comes a few days after the NFL issued even stricter guidance on Monday for team operations, requiring players to wear masks on the sidelines unless they have their helmet on and are preparing the enter the game — changes that begin Thursday night. You can add NASCAR-owned tracks Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and Kansas to the list of Cup Series weekends this season that will allow full-capacity grandstands. The New York Jets and Giants will not have fans at MetLife Stadium this season “until further notice” because of the coronavirus pandemic after releasing a joint statement with Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy announced an executive order limiting outdoor public gatherings to 500 people on Monday. The Jets and Giants say the decision to not have fans for now was reached after discussions with Murphy, with the health and safety of fans, players and staff being considered. It also said that two more clubs will reach the threshold by Memorial Day and put the total number of Tier 1 individuals in the sport who are fully vaccinated at 78.8 percent, with 84.4 percent being partially or fully vaccinated. And while more teams are hitting the threshold of having certain protocols released, it mirrors a broader trend for baseball fans; the number of stadiums that will be at 100 percent capacity by July 4 is close to 20, with several going to full capacity much sooner . “It became really apparent to us all that no matter how much we wanted to play the game, that we started this back in March with the goal to put the health and safety of our student-athletes, our coaches, our staff, as the first priority,” Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel said. “As numbers continue to grow, we can’t ignore and put first how much we want to play this great game against Ohio State. We have to put their health and safety first.” One of the unique parts for any sports fan watching the Australian Open this week was the presence of fans throughout the grounds — allowing up to 30,000 fans per day at the venue was part of the early charm of the year’s first Grand Slam hosted in one of the few countries that has been able to combat the COVID-19 pandemic effectively. One of the positives for this season’s NHL campaign has been the feedback from fans about the realigned divisions, which in the interest of decreased travel this season has meant repeated rivalry games and increased chatter between fan bases. Well, the NFL made it. Against what many bettors would have predicted was not possible, the league will complete its regular season on time this weekend with a full slate of games on Sunday with all 256 games being completed. The daily uncertainty of the season, within three weeks of opening night, has already led Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to cancel the rest of his team’s non-conference games after a second consecutive home loss last Tuesday against Illinois. After the Blue Devils’ game against Notre Dame on December 16, the team will take a 13-day break before a game against Pittsburgh. While Tokyo’s preparations have been a near-daily drama, the IOC also made another announcement this week; its Coordination Commission met with the local organizing committee for Paris 2024 and “as the Tokyo 2020 Games approach, it’s clear Paris 2024 is ready and excited to take on the great responsibility of receiving the Olympic flag from Tokyo 2020,” said Coordination Commission Chair Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant said. “That impact is real and it’s not likely a one-year impact,” Bowlsby said. “I think that it will be into fiscal year 2023 before some institutions fully recover.” Major League Soccer, which was one of the few professional leagues to have a 2020 season held in both a centralized bubble environment and in home markets, is planning on starting the 2021 season on April 3. And its biggest rival — while not an active rival, the teams not having played since 2011 because of Power 5 conference realignment — has said the same, with Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork saying on a Facebook Live the approach for the fall is “full stadium, full season ticket allotment. 12th Man section, student section full. People are going to be vaccinated at a really, really high level. Those are all the projections right. The whole herd immunity.” “I think some quarters are pressing to get back to full stadiums, and there are probably people that are pressing to be very cautious about it,” Bowlsby said. “I think all of our schools are relying on local health officials and doctors that serve on our conference medical committee. So we are drawing upon the best information that we can. … if we get to a point where public assembly is ill-advised because of a spike in the variant, it’s not inconceivable we would go back and try and revisit those things on an institutional basis or collectively. “From the beginning, our aspirations have been a world-class professional cycling race in the state of Maryland,” said event Chairman John Kelly , a Baltimore-area business leader who was involved in the race. “You only have one chance to make a first impression and we want to do things right. There are multiple factors in this difficult decision, mainly hinging on challenges post COVID from course development to guarantees of international athletes into the country. We look forward to launching this world-class event in 2022.” Toronto FC made East Hartford, Connecticut, their home base following MLS’ return to home markets in August 2020. Montreal played its games in Harrison, New Jersey, while Vancouver played its “home” games in Portland, Oregon. Still, there are moments where the league and sports in general are reminded that the pandemic is not over. The New York Yankees had eight positive tests earlier this month after the league reported at least 85 percent of their Tier 1 individuals were fully vaccinated. Even then, there were public health experts that said the outbreak showed the importance of vaccination. The AELTC made its first statement recently about next year, which is already facing queries given the rise of cases in the United Kingdom: Wimbledon will be held in 2021 — even if it has to adopt the same policy as the U.S. Open did this summer and have the event without fans. A third SEC game for the weekend, and sixth overall for the season, was also affected as Texas A&M, which had to pause all team-related activities on Monday because of “multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the program,” had its game against Tennessee postponed. That game will be rescheduled for December 12. Health and safety protocols will continue to be enforced at Globe Life Field in 2021, including fans were masking except when eating or drinking at their seats; all transactions will be cashless; no bags will be permitted into the stadium except for medical reasons or diaper bags for infants and young children; and social distancing in concession lines and retail locations. “Frankly speaking, I personally think it would be quite tough for him to come now,” Hashimoto said, adding that “nothing had been decided.” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25. The Mainichi newspaper reported recently that foreign fans will not be allowed; that report was followed by another by the Kyodo news agency on Tuesday, confirming the Mainichi report and saying that the opening ceremony for the March 25 torch relay would also be held without spectators. The college football bowl season, some have said in the past few years, is bloated beyond recognition with nearly four dozen events across the United States and beyond and giving teams that do not deserve a postseason opportunity the chance to have one more game. The College Football Playoff management committee met Wednesday with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott requesting that a discussion take place about delaying the CFP. But ESPN reported the committee will keep the CFP as scheduled with a caveat that if a team is unable to play after its selection, a replacement team would not be chosen. Mullen’s comments led to a series of predictable jokes as well about the SEC’s mantra of ‘it just means more.’ But that does not mean games will go off as planned. Vanderbilt’s game at Missouri scheduled for October 19 has been postponed until December 12 because the Commodores will not be able to suit up the minimum 53 players. And as the playoffs loom with an expanded field of more than a dozen teams, Major League Baseball is prepared to … have fans for games held in a bubble. One of those teams, 2-8 South Carolina, was scheduled to play in the Gasparilla Bowl on Saturday and its interim head coach, Mike Bobo , said earlier in the week opting out of the postseason was not an option. “There’s no vote in the SEC. You come to play in the SEC, you come to play ball,” Bobo said. As all of these things happen at different franchises, the NFL is working to try and clamp down on any potential outbreaks as much as possible. The league has strengthened protocols each of the past wo weeks and on Friday, the league told every team that practices on Monday and Tuesday would not be allowed after players and personnel celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. One example of such was the Indianapolis Colts’ running back Jonathan Taylor , who will be on the restricted list — not because he tested positive for COVID but because his girlfriend left the city to go to a family gathering and has since tested positive herself, making Taylor a close contact. Bach set aside recent reports that the Japanese government has discussed canceling the event set to begin July 23, as well as speculation that the event or portions of it could be moved to different locations. “All these speculations are hurting the athletes in their preparations who have already had to overcome the challenges in their daily training and competition with all the restrictions they are facing in their countries when it comes to traveling,” he said. So for the rest of the season, each team must have all meetings either virtually or in the largest possible indoor space inspected and approved by the NFL and NFLPA; grab-and-go meals in the cafeterias; a limit of 10 players and five coaches at one time in the weight room; limited time in locker rooms and masks or face shields worn by all people at all times throughout the team facilities and practice field; and during medical treatment for a player by a trainer in the training rooms, both the player and trainer must wear not only a mask but also a face shield during treatment. After Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced statewide mitigation orders will be lifted starting May 31, Pocono Raceway quickly issued a statement saying that its doubleheader weekend June 26–27 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, will have 100 percent capacity. While professional sports leagues navigate the tricky issues of allowing fans at events, there is no mistaking the slowly growing sense the rules are relaxing — especially for outdoor events. “This was an extraordinary collective effort,” Goodell said. “There were people that didn’t believe we could do it. Obviously, we had a lot of unknowns ourselves. But we believed that staying on schedule and working toward trying to get to 256 games done — as we say, avoid the asterisk. I think we were able to do that, but we’ve still got a few days left here.” In any scenario, the IOC and Tokyo officials have made it clear they still intend to move forward with the event. The amount of debate over whether the Games would occur this summer has seemed to frustrate both the IOC and Tokyo organizers — regardless of who raises the doubts. That lent itself to an extraordinary moment on Tuesday when the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori , said, “No matter what situation would be with the coronavirus, we will hold the Games. We should pass on the discussion of whether we will hold the games or not, but instead discuss how we should hold it” while talking to lawmakers of his own political party. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday extended for another month a state of emergency order for Tokyo, which many in the country believe is to continue a push to decrease cases ahead of the Olympics. “We will focus on the essentials,” Bach said. “That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.” Bach responded to several specific scenarios about postponement, insisting the Games will proceed as scheduled: Among the possible alternate formats under discussion would be having three groups of four, much like the old semifinal round. The group winners would qualify for the 2022 tournament in Qatar, and there would be playoff opportunities for some teams that don’t finish first. The U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica would be placed in different groups. And as such, this week’s latest news is of a trend that has slowly developed as the season has progressed; Monday brought the cancellation of seven games scheduled for this week, all involving either the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils or Buffalo Sabres, bringing the season total to 33 canceled games with 15 remaining to be rescheduled. Step right up, Big Ten Conference , and welcome to the fall sports season … after saying there would be no football until the spring. Miles and track officials had previously said that if fans were not allowed in attendance that the race would be further delayed but that alternative will not be needed. The IndyCar Series have had a restricted number of fans at recent races in Wisconsin and Iowa. The Green Bay Packers, who kick off the Divisional Round weekend on Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Rams, will have season-ticket holders as well as invited frontline health care workers and first responders in the stands for the first time this season. A total of approximately 6,000 fans will be at Lambeau Field with tickets in socially distanced groups of two, four and six tickets. The Atlantic 10 Conference has postponed of all scheduled fall competition in conference-sponsored sports and A-10 championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports affected by the move includes men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country and volleyball. The fall competitive schedules for men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s rowing will also be postponed, as will non-traditional competition seasons for baseball, softball and women’s lacrosse. “We knew that unabated sunshine was a problem,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on NBC. “After consulting with our icemakers and both teams, we didn’t think it was safe or appropriate to continue this game at this time. Some of the players wanted to continue playing. Others were more concerned. I felt the most prudent thing to do was to discontinue the game now.” Monday’s Games Washington at Pittsburgh: No fans allowed Buffalo vs. San Francisco at Glendale, Arizona: No fans allowed Along with the six teams that have had fans already and the Falcons and Panthers’ plans, the other three teams scheduled to have fans in attendance are the Denver Broncos, who will have 7.5% capacity for its game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the Tennessee Titans, which on October 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be allowed to fill 10% capacity of its venue, or approximately 6,900 fans; and the Cincinnati Bengals have been given allowance by the state of Ohio to have up to 6,000 fans for its home games in October. But there are also aspects of last season that remain. For at least the start of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays will not play at home but instead at its spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida . If a game goes into extra innings, both teams will start the at-bat with a runner on second base. In the case of a doubleheader this season, both games will be seven-innings; last season those twinbills were much more prevalent because of the number of games needing to be rescheduled, although this season there will remain that chance until there is a greater percentage of the league’s players being vaccinated. If any teams selected for 4-team @CFBPlayoff not able to play Jan. 1 because of COVID, those teams will not be replaced, sources told @Stadium . Most likely that @CFBPlayoff game would be moved to later date until it could be played. “Last thing we want is a forfeit,” source said— Brett McMurphy November 19, 2020 Major League Baseball says 85.5 percent of Tier 1 individuals — players, coaches, support staff and those in direct contact of players — are vaccinated. Of the league’s 30 teams, 23 have an 85 percent vaccination rate, a number that has not increased since June. The program hopes to return on that date, which would give it a few days to prepare for a scheduled December 19 game against No. 3 Iowa at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Canadian Football League will start its 2021 season on August 5, its first action in more than a year after the 2020 season was canceled and this season was already delayed because of COVID-19 regulations throughout the country. In all, the schedule adjustments released on Sunday affect nine teams — New England, Tennessee, Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami, the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars — leading many to half-jokingly suggest that the league’s schedule maker will end the season as the Most Valuable Player award winner. “This is a major operation and it is a massive effort,” Hori said. “On a daily basis, if you come here to work as driver, you will be able to learn where your bus is parked. But these are drivers who will come from all over Japan just for the delivery of the Games. We don’t want the drivers getting lost in the parking lot.” The Truck Series has raced on dirt seven times recently at Eldora Speedway in Ohio, a facility owned by Tony Stewart ; when Fox asked NASCAR to put a dirt event on the Cup Schedule and it was decided to be held in Bristol, Stewart pulled the Truck Series race off his venue’s facility. The 22 teams invited to the bubble — nine from the Eastern Conference and 13 from the West — were all either having already clinched a playoff spot or in the hunt for one. After an eight-game sprint to the finish, the NBA set up a play-in series that was activated in the West, with the Portland Trail Blazers beating the Memphis Grizzlies to earn the eighth seed in a play-in game. The postseason remained the same, with best-of-seven series for each round of the playoffs and no expanded postseason fields. Japanese spectators at the Olympic Summer Games will be asked to root with “passion from your heart” as opposed to cheering, yelling, whistling or high-fiving, according to a new guideline document issued to potential fans. The 18-page document was issued after the organizing committee on Monday announced it will allow up to 50 percent capacity at venues for the Games, or a maximum of 10,000 people per venue. Banned from the track last August as a delayed Indy 500 became a race held in front of empty stands, Sunday’s race saw fans and dignitaries mixed with NFL players, pro wrestlers and social media celebrities at the Brickyard. Through more than 90,000 vaccinations at the speedway itself, along with the rest of the state, Roger Penske and speedway officials got the clearance for IMS to all these fans. This year’s event, scheduled for controlled environments in Indianapolis and San Antonio, have been promoted by people within the NCAA as both a chance to give players the national stage they missed out on last year and also the chance to show that they are able to hold events in a safe and healthy fashion. Those reasons are true — but it would be remiss to ignore that there are enormous financial ramifications to hold the event. ESPN reported this season the average number of players sidelined per game due to injury, non-COVID-19 illness or rest this season was 5.1, the highest since 2009–2010. This season’s All-Stars missed 370 games , the highest percentage in a season in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. “We are optimistic that as we get toward the playoffs that the number of people will continue to increase,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said during a press conference marking one year since the previous season shut down. “We’ll continue to adjust to complete the regular season and conduct the playoffs. We remains optimistic we can be pretty darn close if not normal for the start of next season.” One team this weekend which will have fans for the first time is the Philadelphia Eagles, who received permission from the state of Pennsylvania to have up to 7,500 people on hand which includes players, coaches, team and stadium personnel, media and fans. To allow all season ticket holders the opportunity to attend games with the limited capacity, the school will be reaching out to all fans with information reflecting their individual status and options. Season ticket holders will be given the opportunity to select their seat location from physically distanced sets of seats in priority point order. The 2020 schedule was able to have 33 events overall but none were held from mid-March until August 24. The tennis world was able to have three Grand Slams with the Australian Open held pre-pandemic, then the U.S. Open held on its traditional dates in a strict bubble environment before the rescheduled French Open was held in late September. Nearly 40 events were cancelled including multiple traditional American stops including not only Indian Wells but Miami, Washington and the U.S. Open Series held in the summer at destinations throughout the Eastern United States. Hawaii is playing home games this season at the 9,000-seat Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex as construction continues at the Aloha Stadium Entertainment District. The school says that the decision will be re-evaluated in the “coming weeks” whether fans will be able to attend future home games. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has canceled fall sports competition, with a decision on if it can be rescheduled for the fall to be determined at a later date. The MAAC’s decision is the latest in a series of moves made by mostly smaller Division I conferences along with several in Division II, most notably the Ivy League and Patriot League The league will have a 10-game season with the SEC Championship Game held at its traditional site in Atlanta on December 19. The schedule will include one open date for each school with no games on December 12 as well. The governor clarified the plan is “in development.” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz , however, did caution a decision to allow fans must be made no later than next week and that the county does not have the capacity to do rapid testing on 6,700 individuals in either a pre-game or prior day setting. The protocols are in contrast to the strict bubble environment under which the 2020 event was organized. Players faced possible fines and expulsion if they exited the tournament bubble without written consent as they were kept largely sequestered. This year, they will be able to dine at restaurants and move freely outside their hotel rooms. The , which has had to readjust its schedule continuously throughout the pandemic to make sure that it could run races at tracks with proper protocols and in some cases have been able to have fans on hand, released another update to the 2020 calendar that keeps it on track to run 14 races this season. That, of course, is a reference to Ohio State, which is No. 4 in the CFP with a 5-0 record ahead of Saturday’s Big Ten championship game against Northwestern. The Big Ten’s original rule this year was that a team would have to play at least six games to qualify for the league title game. But that rule was changed last week once it became clear that the Buckeyes would only have five regular season games. Hence the criticism by Swinney for the league changing its rules in the middle of the season to accommodate a playoff-contending team … which his league did for his team. Vanderbilt and Virginia joined Duke, SMU and San Jose State in shutting down while the season was ongoing. The Ivy League made the decision to not play winter sports in advance of the season opening. The NIT, which began in 1938, is the nation’s oldest postseason tournament. In 2019, Texas won the NIT title over Lipscomb. Thomas Bach made the comment during a meeting in Japan checking on progress for the rescheduled event, which will start July 23, 2021. The visit comes after Japan held a gymnastics meet in early November with several thousand in attendance. Athletes who competed in the event quarantined for two weeks and were largely kept in isolation akin to the bubble format that other pro U.S. leagues utilized over the summer, along with taking daily COVID-19 tests. “In June, we announced the race was on and that attendance would be limited to no more than 50 percent of capacity,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. “We also made clear we intended to do things differently this year. By offering credits to fans who had previously purchased tickets, encouraging those over 65 to stay at home, limiting attendance in the infield, reducing tickets in our suites and promising fans their decision to not attend would not impact their seniority or right to renew tickets for 2021, we now anticipate attendance at approximately 25 percent of capacity. We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts.” While nearly half the teams in the league are allowed to have fans at games as it stands, that does not mean the allotments are being sold out. While the Dallas Cowboys are averaging just under 24,000 per game, the team’s total number of available tickets sold has not been public. And for every other team in the league hosting fans, none are averaging ‘sellouts’ — the Pittsburgh Steelers had fans in the stands for last weekend against the Eagles and said they would be selling 5,500 tickets. Only 4,708 attended. Slowly, the National Football League seems to be preparing for the return of limited numbers of fans to games this season. The Canucks made a stirring return to the ice on Monday night, playing for the first time since March 24 and rallying for a 3-2 overtime win over Toronto . No Canucks players remain on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but four of Vancouver’s regular starters remained out of the lineup. The federal funding would be used by the Tampa Sports Authority to modify more than 40 different areans throughout the stadium, with the first of three phases to be completed by October 31. Among the modifications would be a public address system in the parking lots to let fans know which groups would be allowed to come to entry gates at assigned times, plus touchscreen ticket scanners and temperature check thermometers. There would also be portable wash stations throughout the venue and parking areas plus modifications to the press box for social distancing and reconfigured entry gates and check points. Silver expected the lack of gameday revenue to decrease as much as 40 percent had the league not been able to play in front of fans during the postseason. But with many teams playing in front of sellout crowds, he said the revenue dip will actually be closer to 33 percent. The U.S. Open , which started on Monday with no fans in attendance, will use a series of virtual experiences to bring fans into Arthur Ashe Stadium during the Grand Slam, giving fans unparalleled access. Scheduled to start on May 23, the French Open will instead start May 30, which will allow organizers to welcome more fans since nationwide restrictions enforced in France are set to ease before and during the tournament. Up to 5,388 spectators could be allowed every day from May 30 through June 8 if conditions continue to improve in France with capacity rising to a maximum of 13,146 spectators on June 9 and 10 for the women’s and men’s finals. A few events being held in the outlying prefectures of Miyagi, Shizuoka and Ibaraki will go ahead with limited spectators, organizers said Saturday. Organizers hoped before the pandemic that having events in Fukushima would showcase the region’s recovery in an area devastated in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors. The efforts, the IOC said, are of course aimed at those that may travel to the Games, but also to reassure the Japanese public that measures are being taken to limit any potential spread from visitors. Recent polling has shown the majority of Japanese citizens are no longer in favor of hosting the events this summer. A five-day absence and being put on the COVID list as a close contact is a sign that a player has not been vaccinated; vaccinated players would only be placed on the list for a positive test result. “This was a huge boost to the restaurants for our area,” Townsend said. Football Bowl Subdivision play is a different conversation. Of the Power 5 leagues, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have cancelled play for the fall while the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are still going forward with plans to play. Several non-Power 5 leagues including Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference and Sun Belt are still scheduled to play along with BYU, an independent football program. Tokyo officials say more than 80 percent of athletes and support staff will be vaccinated and to a degree, that is the lesser concern for organizers. The bigger issue is given Japan’s low vaccination rates and with plans for fans to be in attendance, critics say the conditions would be ripe for the Olympics to be a super-spreader event. That is even before you factor in if guidelines for athletes and members of the Olympic movement are not strictly adhered to between the 11,000 athletes and 4,400 Paralympians entering from more than 200 countries in addition to tens of thousands of judges, sponsors, broadcasters and media on hand. “If I give you some information, at least know the rules before you put it in the press,” Arians said. “Red and yellow bands — they don’t have to wear them at practice. That’s for indoors. I’ve gotta read that we should be fined for red and yellow bands because they ain’t got them on at practice. That’s . If you’re gonna report , make sure it’s right.” The game marks the second Pac-12 contest that will be not be staged after the game between Colorado and Arizona State was also called off because of positive tests in ASU’s program, including Head Coach Herm Edwards . “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said IIHF President René Fasel . “We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators, and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.” In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets have seen two of its three stars limp out of games in their semifinal against the Milwaukee Bucks with  James Harden leaving Game 1 within a minute of tipoff and Kyrie Irving sustaining an ankle injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 loss. In the other East semifinal, Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is playing through a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Alabama will return to the same protocols it used in the 2020 season for at least six weeks with students returning to Tuscaloosa as the delta variant is hitting the state, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Thursday . For leagues that only recently started, they also deal with the reality that because of a delayed start, there are no open dates for which to try and reschedule games. That became reality for the Pac-12 when it canceled two games, Cal against Washington and Arizona against Utah, before its opening game of the season even kicked off. Stanford was missing three players for its loss against Oregon and Washington State beat Oregon State despite missing 32 players. The Yankees were one of the first teams in MLB to have reached the 85 percent vaccination rate but having had several unvaccinated players contract COVID leaves the question of whether the league’s protocols will be tightened as the regular season continues. Newton’s news came the day after a former Patriot turned head coach, Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans, said he had tested positive and was quarantined. The Titans beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-3 in a preseason game Saturday night. They traveled to Florida on Tuesday and practiced jointly with the Buccaneers on Wednesday and Thursday. While China has not announced its formal policy yet on spectators, it is all but certain that foreign journalists will face restrictions as strict — if not stricter — with their movements around the Games as there were in Tokyo. That, however, is as much because of political reasons as it would be for health reasons. The Patriot League became the second collegiate conference on the Football Championship Subdivision level to announce that fall sports will be — at minimum — postponed until the spring, following the lead of the Ivy League. Two notable differences is that the Patriot League is the first FCS conference that participates in the national playoffs to announce it will not be playing this fall, while both Army and Navy will be allowed to have athletic competition “because the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy are unique in their environments and their missions within higher education.” NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt released a statement on Monday saying “by mid-September, we will provide direction about whether the season and practice start on time or a short-term delay is necessitated by the ongoing pandemic” as the NCAA Division I Council will listen to recommendations from the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Oversight Committees. Lessons from the season are applicable to non-sports settings such as essential workplaces, long-term care facilities and schools, the publication said. The school’s administration definitely noticed the response on social media and beyond, sending a letter to the students on Sunday afternoon. But after Notre Dame president the Rev. John Jenkins tested positive for COVID-19 in October after he appeared at the White House Rose Garden Ceremony to celebrate the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the stance that the school took had a predictable response. “We are continuing to work closely with the Government to finalize the details including the requirements for Covid-status certification for spectators,” the All England Club said in a statement. “… This will enable us to fulfil our aspiration of staging the best Wimbledon possible within the current circumstances, with the health and safety of all those who make Wimbledon happen — our guests, competitors, members, staff, media, officials, local residents, and partners — remaining our highest priority.” And while the IOC is encouraging the countries to vaccinate their athletes, Bach went on the record in January, saying “we always made it clear we are not in favor of athletes jumping the queue.” He added to the conversation on Wednesday, saying his hope was “to have as many participants as possible arriving vaccinated to Tokyo.” One of the most iconic bowl games of the college football postseason, known for some of the wildest endings in the sport’s history, will go dark this season as the number of bowl games not being held this year is starting to slowly climb. Along with the network TV deals, each of the networks also won rights to put games on their streaming services between CBS and Paramount Plus, NBC and Peacock, Fox and Tubi along with ESPN Plus. While continuing to have a firm hold on over-the-air television, the amount of content that each network will be able to stream along with the Amazon package does also make a decisive move into streaming for the NFL. One of the harshest realizations of what COVID-19 can do a National Football League team’s roster was when the Denver Broncos, without a single quarterback because of contact tracing, had to play a practice squad wide receiver at the QB position against the New Orleans Saints on short notice. Still, given that in the space of a month during this year it sometimes feels like a year, anything — such as the Warriors’ plans — cannot be entirely discounted. As the NFL preseason heads into the first weekend of games, the debate and storyline among the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation due to COVID-19 will not rest. “The practical effect of this will be that with four or five weeks to go in the season, there will be 25 or 30 teams that have a legitimate claim and practical opportunity to participate,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “That should make for an extraordinarily good October and November.” Tiley then also had to deal with reports that Novak Djokovic , the No. 1 player on the ATP Tour, issued a series of demands including reducing the isolation period for players who continued to test negative and moving as many players as possible to private homes with a tennis court to facilitate training. Texas will delay the start of football season for its largest schools until September 24 amid a surge of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths throughout the state. The big schools were scheduled to start practice on August 3 and begin the season on September 7. “Late last night, we received notice that a Patriots player tested positive for COVID-19. The player immediately entered self-quarantine,” the Patriots said in a statement Saturday. “Several additional players, coaches and staff who have been in close contact with the player received point of care tests this morning and all were negative for COVID-19.” While it is not official that the NFL will have full capacity at every game, there is only momentum growing toward that point with the amount of vaccinated people in the United States increasing each day. No teams played in front of full-capacity crowds last season but as far back as March, Commissioner Roger Goodell was saying “we expect to have full stadiums in the 2021 season.” The league is offering vaccines at 21 of its stadiums with more than 3 million doses administered so far and is holding a drawing where vaccinated fans can win tickets to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California . “We are planning to have marching bands, cheerleaders, mascots and the rest of the wonderful traditions at the CFP games,” Hancock said in a statement. “We are optimistic, but, of course, everything will depend on the circumstances this fall.” “We are disappointed we had to make the difficult decision not to host the 2021 USA Cycling Elite, Junior, and Para Track National Championships,” said Travis Smith of VELO Sports Center. “After such a challenging year, it breaks our hearts to ask for the event to be moved from Los Angeles. We will welcome national championships back again in the coming years with open arms. We wish everyone good luck while racing in Trexlertown and know they will put on a great event as it’s always been a premier racing location.” While foreign fans had been barred from attending the Games for months, organizers were desperately trying to retain some sort of presence for local fans, announcing last month that venues could be filled to 50 percent capacity with a ceiling of 10,000. Having local fans would also allow the organizing committee, which is facing billions in budget deficits, a chance to regain some revenue. “The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” said Warde Manuel , Michigan’s athletic director. “We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals. This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making.” Among the highlights in the new regulations: The playoffs will also be held under the same strict protocols that the league and players association have agreed to all season. While there was plenty of online debate about whether going to a bubble format in the postseason would be used, the league decided weeks ago that teams would not set up even a modified bubble format or be allowed to require players and staff member to stay at a hotel during the playoffs other than the night before a game. But immediately, the 49ers will have to figure out what to do the next three weeks. Not only will the franchise have to leave their training site in Santa Clara, the team also have two scheduled home games over the next three weeks on December 7 against the Buffalo Bills and December 13 against the Washington Football Team. The U.S. Open will not have an on-site vaccination spot for players or fans because of the number of locations in New York City that vaccines can be administered. Several high-profile players have been vaccine-resistent during the past year-plus, most notably Novak Djokovic ; the third-ranked player on the ATP Tour, Stefanos Tsitsipas , said that he hasn’t gotten the vaccine in part because there is no reason for a person in his age group to get it. During those events, officials planned to use high-precision cameras, carbon dioxide-monitoring devices and wind-speed measuring machines as part of countermeasures against COVID-19. The stadium will be used as a venue for next year’s rescheduled Olympics, which are to open on July 23, 2021. “We all know why we’re playing it,” Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard added later that night after his team’s game against Boston. “It’s money on the line. It’s opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much.” Both Daytona and Darlington have hosted events already this year with restricted numbers of attendance. Each track will continue to work with local and state government and health officials on any necessary health and safety protocols and adjustments. The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans starting with Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, which season-ticket holders will be able to attend. The highly trained dogs have been in place for some Heat games this season where the team has allowed friends and family of players and staff. No matter the location or size of venue going forward, “whether it’s open to 30 percent capacity or 100 percent capacity, we’re going to implement the same concepts we’ve learned about and accelerate them as we return to normalcy,” in regard to technology, Mirhashemi said. The backdrop on this Charlie McAvoy goal is unreal #NHLOutdoors pic.twitter.com/dLFNfUHSUt — Brady Trettenero February 22, 2021 The best laid plans and all of those sayings are pertaining to college basketball, as the season’s November 25 debut is already being put in the spotlight by coaches testing positive for the coronavirus and programs having to pause preseason activities — and two programs on Sunday announcing that their season debuts will be delayed. The Rose Bowl is more than just a CFP semifinal. The original bowl game in college football, the Grandaddy of Them All has been played every year since 1916 — through pandemics and World War — although the 1942 game was played in Durham, North Carolina, because it was less than a month after the Pearl Harbor attacks and public gatherings in California had been outlawed by the government. “We understand the disappointment and questions surrounding the timing of our decision to postpone fall sports, especially in light of releasing a football schedule only six days prior to that decision,” Warren’s letter read in part. “From the beginning, we consistently communicated our commitment to cautiously proceed one day at a time with the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes at the center of our decision-making process. That is why we took simultaneous paths in releasing the football schedule, while also diligently monitoring the spread of the virus, testing, and medical concerns as student-athletes were transitioning to full-contact practice.” As it appears, several states have decided that the best way to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19 at youth and high school sporting events is to — for now — not hold them. “Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic,” said Ridley. “Throughout this process, we have consulted with health officials and a variety of subject matter experts. Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome.” Given the doubts within her own country about the Games’ prospects, Hashimoto has begun holding weekly news conferences hoping to win over the public. The Olympics open July 23, followed by the Paralympics on August 24 with tens of thousands of Olympians, Paralympians and more coming to Tokyo. CoSport is also the authorized ticket reseller in Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Jordan, Norway and Sweden. Other ATRs, including Team GB Lie in Britain, have said they intend to issue 100 percent refunds to fans. Last season there were no fans in the regular season at any ballpark and only the National League Championship Series and World Series, both held at Globe Life Field during a unique postseason with neutral sites, had fans in attendance at around 28 percent capacity. For the teams that did have fans, there were a long list of regulations. They are supposed to wear face masks at all times — each of last weekend’s games had some forgetting that part when shown on television — and have a mandatory temperature check. Fans are asked not to sing loudly, another rule not followed too closely last weekend. And notably, fans are allowed to have drinks but also advised not to use stadium bathrooms during halftime and game’s end, which raises the question of whether or not they should want to drink at the game. There are 39 bowl games currently on the schedule for 2020; unlike in past years, this year teams will not have to win a minimum number of games to be bowl eligible. In the end, Scott said the NCAA stayed in Indianapolis — which was already scheduled to host the Final Four — because of its hotels, the walkways that connected so much of the downtown area, plus the ability to have games at other arenas such as Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, Bankers Life Fieldhouse in addition to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, along with the State Fairgrounds, Indiana University in Bloomington and Purdue University in East Lafayette. Bowlsby said the Big 12 has not yet determined what its protocols this fall will be with roster availability should a COVID outbreak occur on a campus. He hopes that conference subgroup will have some of those issues resolved over the next month. Tickets purchased directly through the USGA will be automatically refunded to the method of payment used to purchase the tickets. Additional information on U.S. Open ticket refunds can be found  here . Ah yes, contact tracing. That is the protocol that has given the league perhaps the most headaches this season, and it remained a hot topic for teams last weekend. Detroit Lions Interim Coach Darrell Bevell missed his team’s blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as several defensive assistants, because of contact tracing protocols. The Lions were left without five coaches in total and had some quality control assistants with no game experiences working the sidelines. The Patriots’ game this past weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs was postponed by one day to Monday night after New England quarterback Cam Newton reportedly tested positive. Tennessee’s game against Pittsburgh was postponed until later in the season. The Big West Conference will postpone fall sports competition through the end of 2020 but has not yet made a decision about men’s and women’s basketball, which are scheduled to begin on November 10. “We have to find a way, you know, whether it’s something like an NBA bubble, because I heard some players talk about that, and I don’t mind to discuss about that kind of idea,” Djokovic added. “Select one place and we play all the tournaments on that surface and that place. … we just have to discuss options, because I don’t know honestly if this is going to work.” Villanova had to shut down its activities for 14 days because of a positive COVID-19 test within the program, and Marquette is currently in the midst of a 14-day quarantine. The Big East has a conference schedule set … through December 23, only one-quarter of the games it would play. The rest of the schedule has not been released because of the uncertainty of tests and shutdowns within programs because of testing results. The game was played in front of approximately 22,000 fans, with 7,500 of them being vaccinated front-line healthcare workers from the Tampa region. Tens of thousands of cutouts tried to give the appearance of a sold-out stadium. USA Triathlon has canceled its Off-Road National Championships scheduled for May 16, then rescheduled for September 13, at Wawayanda State Park in Hewitt, New Jersey. The 2021 event will return to Hewitt on May 15. The 2021 event will serve as a qualifier for both the 2021 and 2022 ITU Age Group Cross Triathlon World Championships, which will be held in Almere-Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Townsville, Australia, respectively. Sunday’s Games L.A. Chargers at Miami: Up to 13,000 fans are allowed Houston at Cleveland: Up to 12,000 fans are allowed Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Up to 5,500 fans allowed San Francisco at New Orleans: Up to 6,000 fans allowed Tampa Bay at Carolina: Up to 5,240 fans are allowed Buffalo at Arizona: Up to 4,200 fans allowed Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants: No fans allowed Jacksonville at Green Bay: No fans allowed Washington at Detroit: No fans allowed Denver at Las Vegas: No fans allowed Seattle at L.A. Rams: No fans allowed Baltimore at New England: No fans allowed The Bruins were on schedule to return from its COVID-19 shutdown on Thursday night against the New York Islanders at home, which would be the first pro sports event in Massachusetts with paying fans in the crowd since last March. Ohio State football crowds will be capped at 20 percent of its 104,944 capacity this season, the athletic department wrote to season ticket holders, giving them an update as the season is scheduled to start in less than two months. Washington General Manager Mike Rizzo said Friday that “we’re in crisis management mode.” The team will start its season on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves after one more game scheduled for Monday was postponed. Games were scheduled to be played in front of roughly 5,000 fans at National Park . “It has been said many times that our 2020 season cannot be ‘normal’ because nothing about this year is normal,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote. “Flexibility and adaptability have been critical to our success to date and we must continue with that approach.” This year’s NHL season has been marked by several outbreaks of COVID-19 within teams, the regular season’s final day already being pushed back to accommodate postponed games. The league’s regional scheduling has been received positively by fans. The attempt at a unique outdoor event in Lake Tahoe was first marred by soft ice in bright sunshine, but was still able to be pulled off with spectacular views showcased on national television. But with the Toronto Blue Jays’ announcement that it will have full capacity crowds at its temporary home in Buffalo, New York, by July 5 every MLB ballpark will be open at 100 percent capacity. Players will be required to quarantine for five days before spring training then undergo intake testing once in Arizona or Florida. Testing will continue at least every other day throughout spring training and the regular season. This year’s all-star event will be the second time it has been run at a facility other than Charlotte Motor Speedway, joining Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. The Cowboys are averaging 26,466 fans through six home games. Its past two home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Football Team both drew over 30,000. And those numbers will only be increased if owner Jerry Jones has anything to do with it. While athletes and members of the media will use those buses to move between the Olympic Village, official hotels, the media center and competition venues, other athletes and members of the “Olympic Family” will also have access to an Uber-like system of fleet cars provided by IOC partner Toyota. Those cars will work similar to a ride-share program where they can be ordered, destinations can be entered and GPS will be used to track their progress and ensure they are sent to the right location — a detail that has been a pain point at previous Games. While Tokyo and Japan are facing gigantic budget deficits with the cost of the rescheduled Games, one company will be rolling in revenue. NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell said on Monday the Games could be the most profitable Olympics in NBC’s history , having sold more than $1.25 billion in national advertising in March 2020 before the year-long postponement, a record at the time. • USA Gymnastics has announced it will not hold its premier events in 2020 and will reformat the 2020 National Congress and trade show to a virtual event. The affected events including the GK U.S. Classic, U.S. Gymnastics Championships for women’s and men’s artistic, and the USA Gymnastics Championships for rhythmic, trampoline & tumbling, and acrobatics. The national governing body will announce new dates soon for the rescheduled 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials and the 2021 National Congress and trade show. The GK U.S. Classic scheduled for May 23 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut , will take place at the same venue on May 22, 2021 and the U.S. Gymnastics Championships scheduled for June 4-7 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas , will take place in the original venue on June 3-6, 2021. So why, one would ask, is the league still pushing full speed ahead on a season and not pausing the season? The answer is simple. • Organizers of the 42nd annual Colorado have announced that the 2020 race, which had been postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, is  canceled and will be  rescheduled for Memorial Day 2021.  Participants already registered will be offered options and alternatives for the 2021 BOLDERBoulder and beyond. One group that has been affected is the 60 officials for March Madness; six were sent home on Monday night after one referee tested positive with five others ruled out via contact tracing. Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported the referees arrived to their hotel on Sunday but their rooms weren’t ready and instead of waiting in a secure area, they were allowed to leave for dinner in downtown Indianapolis. Four of the refs will be replaced from a pool of reserves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaxed its mask guidelines for Americans who have been fully vaccinated, saying people who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks when spending time alone or with small groups outdoors. The agency did say in crowded situations, people should still wear masks; the Lexington Herald-Leader called masks “the newest fashion accessory” at the track but also said “ mostly they were nowhere to be found,” with many wearing them around their neck instead of over their face. The numbers from the NHL were staggering: 130 games in 59 days and during the time that players entered the bubbles in Canada on July 26, the league conducted 33,174 tests without any cases of COVID-19. “We have decided together with the Colombian authorities to allow 50 percent capacity in the sports venues,” said Panam Sports President Neven Ilic . “However, those who enter must comply with a series of biosecurity measures such as vaccination certificates, mandatory use of face masks, social distancing and hand washing, among other things.” Players and caddies have been required to be tested on-site each week of an event on the PGA Tour, which ESPN said has reported fewer than 30 on-site COVID positive tests over the past 10 months. The tour’s own on-site testing will stop at the end of June. The official announcement came after the Ohio Valley Conference made plans to postpone its fall sports schedule, becoming the 13th FCS conference to announce that it won’t conduct fall sports as scheduled. The PGA Championship at San Francisco’s Harding Park, rescheduled for August 6–9, had previously announced it will be played without spectators. The U.S. Open in September at Winged Foot in New York will be held under the same conditions. The original idea was to try and get some amount of fan attendance, although each of the four teams in the initial report are located in states that currently do not allow attendance at sporting events. Regardless, it would be a sign of the lengths teams are willing to go to so that a season could be played. The NHL had already decided against having its marquee outdoor game events this season such as the Winter Classic, and the idea of having teams playing several games outdoors — if not all of them — would raise concerns from the league office about the novelty of outdoor hockey being lessened. As part of the return to live events, Major IV will adhere to strict league health and safety protocols. As a result, attendance will be limited to players as well as limited Call of Duty League and team staff. Attendees will take rapid response COVID-19 tests throughout the event. Some of that financial reality on the college scene was driven home recently at Penn State University, where Athletic Director Sandy Barbour last week gave a budget report to the school’s faculty senate meeting. Barbour said the Nittany Lions athletic department is on pace to see revenue decline by about $60 million this fiscal year while operating at about a $35 million loss . Barbour also told the group that it was as close to a best-case scenario as any given that the state of Pennsylvania did not allow attendance at football and basketball games this past season other than family and close friends. Kyodo News reported that the Japanese government plans to end a COVID-enforced state of emergency currently covering Tokyo and eight other regions on Sunday. The government’s chief spokesman said on Wednesday that an announcement on fans at the Olympics would be upcoming after experts signed off on a plan to allow crowds of up to 10,000 people at events. The final call will be made after considering coronavirus infection conditions and the prevalence of variants, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters. All during the preseason when there were severe doubts if the sport would play in the fall, the one that was the most steadfast was the Big 12 — which, somehow, will have all of its teams play at least nine conference games ahead of its title game on December 19. The league is also notable from the standpoint of each team at least once this season had fans at every home stadium. Rizzo, acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs before the trade deadline, has three home runs and six RBIs in nine games with the Yankees. The Yankees’ latest outbreak occurred after six games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in Florida, where COVID-19 cases are surging. The announcement is a sudden change from April, when Wimbledon said that it was hoping for at least 25 percent capacity. For the NBA’s part, conversation has always ranged about having the league start on Christmas Day, which has traditionally been one of the biggest days of the regular season. The chance to start later than usual and after the NFL’s regular season is almost fully complete was anticipated by many fans. Boston’s issues in the dugout come on the same week that a longtime former MLB player and manager has reportedly resigned from his front-office role with the Washington Nationals rather than be vaccinated. ESPN reported Wednesday that Vice president Bob Boone will not comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all non-uniformed employees. In normal times, having the All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7 would be a mega-event. But this season, many high-profile players are treating the idea of participating as something to be avoided, not envied, given the NBA’s insistence on having the event during a season already compressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will require a vaccination card to enter, but this will once again give athletes the true sense of sport and being encouraged by their families, friends and the general public,” added the Governor of Valle del Cauca, Clara Luz Roldan . “It will be a great sports festival, I have no doubt.” There was the slightest caveat at the end of the statement: “We will continue to monitor the situation as we move forward so that our universities can determine whether Ivy League principles and evolving health conditions might allow for limited, local competition later this spring.” “The cancellation of this game, following yesterday’s cancellation of the Washington at Cal football game, is of course incredibly disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans. At the same time it is an indication that our health and safety protocols are working in identifying positive cases and contact tracing cases. While all of us want to see our football student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and saety of all those connected to Pac-12 football programs.” Barbour’s report said that ticket sales had the biggest impact on lost revenue — about $45 million overall — although that included part of the previous fiscal year. Other lost revenue included Big Ten media rights , sponsorships , other game day revenue and the Nittany Lion Club . Penn State borrowed $25 million to cover its losses and tapped athletic department’s reserves, which totaled about $10 million. Fans of the English Premier League may see a restricted number of fans in attendance when they tune in next month after the government said it would end a lockdown on December 2 and put in a three-tiered system throughout the country in which up to 4,000 fans in low-risk areas can attend sporting events. Up to 2,000 fans will be allowed in second-tier areas but high-risk areas, or Tier 3, will still be closed off to fans. “I think it messes with your breathing a little bit,” Tatum said after the team’s shootaround ahead of hosting the Denver Nuggets. “I have experienced some games where, I don’t want to say struggling to breathe, but, you know, you get fatigued a lot quicker than normal. Just running up and down the court a few times, it’s easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster. I’ve noticed that since I’ve had COVID. It’s just something I’m working on.” The University of Pennsylvania will require all fans ages 12 and up to provide proof of vaccination to attend any home fall sport competition, whether indoors or outdoors. Several stadiums that have spent the past months hosting NFL games have become vaccination centers in their markets and while there was debate about whether or not players would “jump in line” to get vaccinated during the season, an issue that was swiftly rejected by the league and never happened, you can be sure that vaccination education for the greater public — and among the league — will be something seen and heard repeatedly. World Wrestling Entertainment is going back on the road after spending most of the past year holding its events at the empty WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. After his team was able to play its season opener and beat Missouri State easily, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley admitted that the game had been jeopardy of being postponed or canceled because of the Sooners’ COVID-19 cases. The NBA’s incentives for vaccination are extending off the court as well. The Miami Heat will be opening two sections in the lower bowl at its home arena for fully vaccinated fans starting April 1 — no, this is not a joke — and while masks will be required still, social distancing rules will be relaxed in the sections. “Postponing the Dew Tour Long Beach weekend until 2021 is the best decision to ensure the safety of our athletes, fans, partners, vendors, and staff during these unprecedented times,” said Courtney Gresik , Dew Tour vice president and general manager. “The Dew Tour remains committed to the progression of skateboarding, furthering awareness and appreciation of the sport as we lead up to the 2021 Olympic Games. We look forward to our return to Long Beach in 2021 for a weekend packed with fun, excitement, and Olympic-level competition that our fans have come to expect from our events.” Entering Monday, there are 16 teams in Division I that still have not played a game. Several of them were scheduled to be in the Bubbleville event in Uncasville, Connecticut, but did not participate after having a positive test that required a 14-day shutdown. Eleven of those teams are from the Northeast. The Japanese regions where baseball and softball events are scheduled to be held as part of the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Summer Games have joined the city of Tokyo in deciding to ban all fans from attending with 10 days before the Opening Ceremony. One day after the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had to postpone a game because of an outbreak within the Yankees clubhouse, the Colorado Rockies are now missing their manager and four other players as Major League Baseball is dealing with two COVID outbreaks to start the second half of the season. “During the Games, stakeholders will be among the most tested people on Earth,” said Craig Spence , chief brand and communications officer for the IPC. The Premier League, the most-followed soccer league in the world, has reportedly discussed a two-week break in what is already a condensed 2020–2021 season after an increasing number of COVID-19 cases throughout multiple clubs, including title challengers Manchester City. The memo, sent to teams and obtained by ESPN , says that teams that hit the 85 percent threshold will no longer have to wear masks or tracking devices in the dugout and bullpen and can restore clubhouse amenities that encourage players hanging out together. Once the threshold is hit, vaccinated players, coaches and staff members will be also able to eat at restaurants, bring family with them on the road and gather without masks in hotel rooms, among other relaxed protocols. They also would have the option of decreasing testing to twice per week and will not have to quarantine if in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19, as long as they are asymptomatic. The first playoff weekend will close with the Browns — fingers crossed there are no late developments — at Pittsburgh, where local and state health authorities have decreed that only family members and close friends of players will be allowed. The team did have up to 5,500 fans at home games in October and November before the state shut down attendance as positive cases rose throughout Pennsylvania. Statement from the Toronto Raptors December 7, 2020 The big-picture question of whether the college basketball season will be held is not really in question. There is too much money at stake for each of the conferences and programs when it comes down to it. But if college football fans have had their heads spin each weekend by not being sure which teams are playing and having games thrown together at the last minute — with two days’ notice in the case of UCLA vs. Cal on Sunday at the Rose Bowl — you may not have seen anything yet once college basketball tips off. Butchart later said in a statement: “I have never falsified a PCR test and have always complied with the guidelines of the countries I have been travelling in. I perhaps glorified the situation for the podcast but I apologize if it came across the wrong way or caused any offence to anyone, in particular Team GB and the Japanese Organizing Committee, who I know are working so hard to make the Games safe for everyone.” The NBA last week agreed to a deal with the National Basketball Referees Association that requires all referees to be vaccinated this season, and those working games will receive booster shots once they become recommended. The full schedule has not been released yet as the league will first focus on working with health authorities and local jurisdictions to develop health and safety protocols for the players and fans at games. The league is in the process of building several scenarios which factor in current and long-term restrictions in both the United States and Canada with regard to immigration and facility use. “Through these discussions, it became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment,” the committee said in a statement. The second matchup may sound a little out of the box, given that the league is going to regionalized scheduling this year as well as the league ignoring the San Jose Sharks, who are the closest NHL franchise to Lake Tahoe. But the TV markets involved with the Bruins and Flyers likely solidified the decision. “With the World Cup being played every four years the opportunity to have this experience is too rare and spread over too great a time,” Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick said. “Whole generations of players miss out, sometimes because of one match, potentially decided on one incident.” New standards include requiring players, staffers and other team personnel to wear electronic tracing wristbands for ballpark access as MLB, which played only 60 games last season, will attempt to play a full 162 games in 2021. The ISF requires anybody entering a venue during a competition stop to have had a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 72 hours, while athletes are also to be separate from equipment technicians. But the schedule itself has remained intact contrasted to the International Biathlon Union, which has hosted six events at three locations to start the season instead of at five locations as in the past. Sankey’s plea for increased vaccinations was not just to each of the league’s schools but their respective fan bases. While the SEC last season had some of the larger crowds for the college football season, none of its stadiums allowed more than 25 percent capacity overall. COVID-19 vaccination rates throughout states where the SEC’s schools reside are among the lowest in the United States. The announcement means that five tracks will have fully open grandstands this summer for NASCAR races; Atlanta Motor Speedway announced that its July 10–11 races will be 100 percent open, followed by Pocono Speedway in Pennsylvania making a similar announcement for its races June 25–27. “A very heavy judgement was made,” Seiko Hashimoto , the president of the organizing committee said, adding it was regrettable the Games were being held in a “very limited format.” No matter the records, where the teams stood in the national rankings, one of the spotlight games each season in college football is Michigan against Ohio State. Until this year. Even beyond the games that have been canceled or had matchups adjusted on the fly, there is always the College Football Playoff — a hot topic in an ordinary season and even more so this season. Whether it was conferences changing rules on the fly to ensure teams had a week off before the conference title game , conferences switching rules on title-game eligibility the week before the game or those taking subtle shots about not switching anything because it just meant more , the CFP became not only a debate on which teams would be in, but then extended to what sites they would play at. When the puck dropped for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in front of a jacked-up crowd at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, it was a reminder that COVID-19 has been part of the National Hockey League — like every other pro league — for more than a year. “When I told the teams what we were planning to do, to say there was outcry would be an understatement,” said Goodell of last year’s virtual draft. “They had to adapt, to use technology properly. … The number of notes I got about being at home with their families and having them experience it . … And there was not one complaint from a club, which is almost impossible to do. They didn’t feel they were unprepared for the draft.” Among the fan protocols that will be enforced at Globe Life Field is tickets in the seating bowl will be sold in groups of four, with no seats sold within 20 feet of where a player would be located either on the field, dugout or bullpen. Masks will be mandatory for fans except when eating or drinking at their seats and hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the venue. No bags will also be permitted except for medical reasons or diaper bags for infants or young children. Chaotic? Not really. It’s merely college football in 2020. Thursday’s Game Arizona at Seattle: No fans were allowed Florida pauses football activity on Tuesday. Statement from AD Scott Stricklin. October 13, 2020 But now the league that often brags “it just means more” is facing the reality that COVID doesn’t care if the game does, in fact, mean more. The biggest game to date this season, No. 2-ranked Alabama hosting No. 3 Georgia in a Saturday prime-time kickoff, is hanging in the balance after Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban revealed on Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating . The curfew for bars, restaurants and music venues will move from midnight to 2 a.m. Hogsett said the decision was not influenced by the upcoming NCAA tournament or the Big Ten Conference Tournament, which will be held in Indianapolis before Selection Sunday. No team has been able to escape the topic of COVID-19. Among the highlights this week; FIFA is facing a backlash in England over its decision to squeeze in more World Cup qualifiers in the coming weeks while no longer allowing exemptions for players to opt out of the trips if they are forced to quarantine on their return to countries to resume club duties. MLB would not be the only professional league that has a shortened season in 2021 — the NBA and NHL both are playing fewer regular-season games than usual. But that also comes with a big caveat in that those two leagues had the 2019–2020 seasons finish much later than usual whereas MLB’s 2020 season finished on time. The issue of contact tracing and quarantine in all sports has been a difficult issue to parse, but especially so in college sports. For many college football programs, the positive tests within a program have been one issue — but when a 14-day quarantine is factored in, that has brought several cancellations throughout the country. Bilas continued throughout the game, pointing to the same issues that many coaches have had already this season: The NCAA and each conference in college basketball have different rules and protocols when it comes to testing and contact tracing. On top of that, there is the issue of traveling in and out of different states and counties and what that entails in terms of different health and safety regulations. The semifinals and championship of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament at Wembley Stadium in London will have its fan capacity increased to 60,000 after UEFA and the British government agreed on increasing capacity after several days of rumors and offers from other countries to host the showcase games should the government have not agreed to a capacity boost. According to The Associated Press, about 65 percent of the team is fully vaccinated — the lowest percentage of all 32 teams in the league, per the report. The league will now be making $645 million per season between the new deals with Turner Sports and the NHL’s primary TV and streaming package with ESPN. The NHL was making roughly $300 million in agreements with NBCUniversal and, for streaming, Disney. While the totals are not in the NFL’s neighborhood of $2 billion per season — although, who is in their neighborhood? — the money is a significant increase for the league and would also lead toward higher salary cap figures in the future. Ever since the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo were postponed from 2020 to 2021, there has been a continual drumbeat of questions whether the Games would even still happen this year. Through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sentiment among the Japanese public has risen against the Games because of skyrocketing costs and now, whether fans will be allowed from aboard. While the Vikings have closed their team facility until further test results are revealed, the Titans have closed their practice facility until Saturday at the earliest — one day before the team is scheduled to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL Network has reported that the team is preparing to play the game at this point. Major League Baseball has announced that its clubs will offer incentives to unvaccinated fans through a new program called “MLB Vaccinate At The Plate,” with all 30 teams hosting at least one event in June where unvaccinated fans can get free tickets to a game if they get a COVID-19 shot at the event. “While it is disappointing we cannot be in Canada this season we are excited to confirm that Turkey will host a Grand Prix in 2021 after an amazing race last season,” F1 Chief Executive Officer Stefano Domenicali said. “I know all our fans are excited by the dramatic start to the season and Turkey is a great circuit that delivers great battles on the track. I want to thank the promoter and authorities in Canada for all of their efforts in recent weeks but the travel situation made our plans impossible.” That means shuffling schedules to a never-before-seen extent and for one national governing body, that means giving up one of the prime international chances to test themselves against the rest of the world. Spectators will be able to access the area of the stadium shown on their ticket and can watch matches on all of the courts within their site. At the show courts, one seat will be left empty on every row and between every group of ticket-holders, which will be limited to a maximum of four people. Fans over the age of 11 will be required to wear masks or face coverings at all times. The NIT will start on March 17 with 16 teams instead of 32 and, instead of being held at campus sites until the semifinals and finals in New York City, will be entirely held in the Dallas-Fort Worth region at the and the University of North Texas Coliseum in Denton . All 16 games through the March 28 championship will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2. The AVP Tour will scrap its 2020 season in place of an event series to be held in Long Beach, California , over three weekend in July and August. The AVP Champions Cup Series, Presented by Acer, will begin on July 18–19, and continue July 25–26 and August 1–2. The event will feature an eight-team main draw and each weekend will offer a $200,000 purse plus a $100,000 bonus pool for teams with the top finishes. The people who have complained about the quarantine have predictably received backlash among ordinary citizens, leaving Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley walking a fine line. NFLPA president JC Tretter ripped teams forcing unvaccinated players to wear wristbands after a report was published on Monday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were having players wear red wristbands or not based upon their status. Following the trend of allowing limited fans at spring training in Arizona and Florida, Major League Baseball is preparing to welcome fans back to the ballpark in the regular season after having gone without any spectators during the truncated 2020 campaign. “The reality is — just the math, there’s 253 million adults in the country. The country needs to reach 75, 85 percent of those people to be vaccinated in order for us to reach herd immunity,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said before the Super Bowl. “To think that we’re going to be at a vaccine-neutral state in September is probably not the case.” With most college campuses closed in December and early January, there also is a six-week window for the college basketball season to get underway without widespread campus outbreaks for programs to contend with. While Tokyo 2020 officials debate a last-minute decision to further limit spectators at events during the Olympic Summer Games that start July 23, even outdoor events may not see fans at them as well. “We have learned a lot from the best practices of other events and the playbooks reflect what we have seen across many other sports,” said Christophe Dubi , the IOC’s Olympic Games Executive Director, during a briefing on the first release. This week alone, the number of Major League Baseball teams that have announced plans to be at full capacity — if not already there — is closing in on 20. The NFL said on Tuesday that all but two of its teams have been given the go-ahead for full capacity at games in the fall and no college football program to date has said it plans for a restricted capacity. Among the key areas for organizers to address: gathering points such as registration/packet pickup, expos, baggage and gear check facilities, start and finish lines, water points and restrooms. Those areas, she notes, are the most likely points of transmission at events and can be mitigated through use of masks and social distancing. While she doesn’t suggest races require masks while people are participating, she does note that finish lines, in particular, can be trouble spots since people may be coughing after a long run. “Given the increased likelihood of close contact, participants should be provided a mask after they cross the finish line if they do not still have their own on them,” she said. “When masked, they should then receive their medal and proceed through the finish area.” The Tour of the Gila organizers were forced to call off their events last spring due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This year’s event was rescheduled for a later date in the hopes of the pandemic being past the region. The NJCAA cross country championships for all three divisions and half marathon championships will remain on their originally scheduled dates in the fall as will Division III women’s tennis. All winter sports competition will begin in January with championships for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and swimming and diving moved to April. Men’s and women’s bowling and men’s and women’s indoor track and field will be held at the beginning of March. There may not be a rollercoaster ride with as many emotional ups and downs as that for a college football fan. You could tie in the fan response 13 years ago to the league’s plans this weekend. It was January 1, 2008 that the league held the inaugural Winter Classic with the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout with more than 71,000 on hand at Ralph Wilson Stadium in New York. The iconic video of Penguins star Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as snow fell turned a hockey event into a broader sports event; since that day, there have been 28 outdoor games throughout the NHL with each new, unique venue being one of the league’s most highly-anticipated regular season events. Fans who have already purchased tickets to the August 16 event have been reseated and guests who attend will be required to wear face coverings and maintain six feet of social distancing throughout the venue. There will also be ingress and egress procedures into the property and each guest will be screened at the gate with questions about their health status and a temperature check, among other protocols. “I don’t think anyone can say anymore that these young men are amateurs,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said after one of his team’s recent games. “That’s out the window because they are not. They absolutely are not. They are laying it on the line to entertain people. Something doesn’t feel right about it right now.” It marks the first time the Army-Navy Game has been played at a home site since World War II when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game. West Point hosted in 1943. The two schools also rotated hosting the first four games of the series from 1890-1893. The cost-saving move is expected to impact about 600 employees, some of whom will be furloughed for up to eight weeks depending on their position and “seasonal timing of their duties.” Over the course of the pandemic, MLB ballparks have been utilized as mass vaccination sites, administering more than 1 million shots. The New Orleans Saints on Friday announced that fans will be expected to always wear masks except when eating or drinking during games at the Superdome per new health protocols announced by the city. The Superdome is an indoor facility like the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium. The season will include bringing the designated hitter to games between National League teams for the first time and instituting the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base. Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1. Every team but one is planning to have training at their regular-season ballpark; the Toronto Blue Jays have to get permission from the Canadian government. If an athlete tests positive, a retest would be done with results expected within three hours. The hope is if the first test was a false positive, a second test would be finished in time to allow athletes to continue competing in their events, said Hidemasa Nakamura , main operations center chief for Tokyo 2020. “It’s a competitive advantage that we have to get vaccinated,” Orgeron said. “If we don’t, we’ll forfeit. Our guys know that.” The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association has announced that the 2021 Rose Parade has been canceled. Since its inception in 1891, the Parade has not occurred only three times – the wartime years of 1942, 1943 and 1945. Every week leading up to games and since the games have kicked off, one phrase has been repeated when it comes to college football: You’ll see things you never thought you would see before. The official cost for the Games is $15.4 billion, though two government audits suggest it might be twice that much with the one-year delay in the Games costing a reported $2.8 billion. A recent Fortune article cited Katsuhiro Miyamoto , an honorary economics professor at Kansai University, saying Japan’s economy will suffer a $13 billion shortfall even if the stands are half-full. “We are prepared to be creative as well as prudent,” Ambrosie said. “For example, if we are unable to host fans in the East because of COVID-19, we are prepared to start play in the West, provided eastern teams can return to their home provinces, and play in front of their fans, later in the season.” “We’re in a world where things won’t all be perfect,” Smith said. “We have to make decisions on the information and data we have at the time.” While the IOC gets a vast majority of its revenue from TV rights and not from ticket sales, that is not the case for the host city. Tokyo’s organizing committee has budgeted income of $800 million from ticket sales and any shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities, which already have had to cover rising costs. The official cost for the Games is $15.4 billion, though two government audits suggest it might be twice that much; all but $6.7 billion is public money. "We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships." “They put a fun and innovative factor into all of what they do and we’re excited to have that same treatment for our sport and for our fans,” Bettman said during Tuesday’s press conference . “We love the reach of their linear networks, both TNT and TBS, and as we look to the future, we’re excited about the digital properties, in particular HBO Max and Bleacher Report. For us, this is a perfect fit.” “If there’s an option to consider it, believe me, we’ll consider it,” Bettman said. One way to look at the NFL’s decision on which games to have in London can also be viewed as the league trying to hook new fans with some of the league’s freshest faces. The games will feature four of the top six picks in the recent NFL Draft between Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence at No. 1, the Jets’ Zach Wilson at No. 2, Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts at No. 4 and Miami’s Jaylen Waddle at No. 6. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’s capacity is 62,303; only Chicago’s Soldier Field has a smaller capacity. As the league fully opens the season on Sunday, only the Las Vegas Raiders are mandating proof of full vaccination for fans 12 and older. The Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints are mandating either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of kickoff. No NFL stadium will be open to less than full capacity this season in contrast to last season, where several teams did not have fans at all. “Especially if there’s multiple players on a team, we really can’t take a chance to expose the bubble to any kind of community spread,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told ESPN . “We need to get more data to see if we have an issue.” “COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, they’ve proven to be highly effective and when people are fully vaccinated, we all have the ability to avoid serious health risks, reduce the virus’ spread, and maximize our chances of returning to a normal college football experience and to normal life,” Sankey said. “It’s not a political football and we need to do our part to support a healthy society.” That is not to say that it has been easy — far from it. The league has had to reshuffle schedules multiple times in the season, including having more than one doubleheader on Monday nights and special Tuesday and Wednesday night games. And during this week’s P CMA Webinar “How Indy Successfully Hosted the Entire NCAA March Madness Tournament,” members from Visit Indy , two of the city’s major venues and the NCAA were able to detail some of the things that went on in the background leading to and during the event. The shift in how indoor sports attendance has changed over the past few months from the start of the NBA season to now is showcased in some of the capacities for playoff games. The Utah Jazz have been one of the teams with the most aggressive attendance policies all season, starting with 1,500 fans in the preseason and increasing that three more times in-season until there were 6,700 fans in attendance; the team will have 71 percent capacity at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the playoffs, which means almost 13,000 fans — by far the most of any West playoff team. But as COVID-19 has surged throughout the country, the NFL has been able to keep the schedule on track by tightening its protocols. Teams no longer are able to meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays each week. Travel protocols have been strengthened to where players are barely able to leave their hotel rooms except when going to the game. The emphasis on masks was reinforced by the league’s close contact protocols, which meant the Denver Broncos had to sit all of its quarterbacks for a game because of one position group’s lapse of judgement in meeting without masks and breaking protocol. Accountability, already stressed within teams, has only seemed to increase. Bristol can hold about 140,000 people, meaning it would be 79% empty even with a crowd of 30,000. Masks were required upon entrance but fans could remove them once in their seats. Concession stands were open, but opportunities were limited. But still, the revenue hit — combined with the lack of ticket revenue compared to pre-pandemic times for on-campus events — has led  colleges and universities throughout the country to cut sports, pointing to financial concerns . The British government was trying to get the game played in London but in addition to making exemptions for hundreds if not more media and guests to come into the country, it would have needed to move the cap on fans at outdoor stadiums to 25,000 from the current 10,000. While the women’s tournament has been full of terrific games that have generated greater social media attention then the men’s games , the men’s tournament has seen its TV ratings down 12 percent heading into the Final Four from the 2019 tournament — a decrease that has actually be well-received given much more substantial decreases for many other sports events since the pandemic first took hold throughout the country. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee will encourage athletes to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available but as of now will continue to monitor health trends throughout the country as the International Olympic Committee has said it will not require vaccination for those competing in the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The ceremony will honor the members of the Class of 2020: Derek Jeter , Marvin Miller , Ted Simmons and Larry Walker . No candidates were elected for Induction in 2021. Even the league’s All-Star Game on Sunday, thrown together on short notice in Atlanta, was affected by the coronavirus when Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were ruled out because they had contact with a barber who has since tested positive. The NBA made sure to note that nobody in Atlanta tested positive on the day of the game and after before returning to their home markets. The school did try to emphasize that masks are required in seating areas after admitting “a large percentage of fans removed their masks” once seated. The Beast had been in the ECHL for seven seasons with multiple affiliations including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. The ECHL, minor league hockey’s second tier behind the AHL, has undergone a season of upheaval because of the pandemic. The season started in December with 13 teams playing — later increasing to 14 when Fort Wayne started playing — but 12 others decided to suspend operations for the season. The league recently announced its second half schedule and plans to still crown a Kelly Cup champion in June. “I would like to share my doubt with you about the possibility of organizing the final or the semifinal in Wembley in a stadium — full stadium,” EU Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas told European Union legislators. “Given that the United Kingdom is restricting its citizens movements to the European Union needs to be a certain amount of symmetry in these kinds of decisions, a certain amount of proportionality. So, I think here that UEFA would do well to carefully analyze its decision.” Duke ruled itself out of the ACC tournament after a positive COVID-19 test within the program on Thursday ahead of the team’s scheduled game against Florida State in the tournament quarterfinals. Then on Friday, Virginia announced it too had a positive test and would forfeit its semifinal game against Georgia Tech. The issue with Virginia is more fraught for the NCAA bracket than Duke’s; while the Blue Devils may not have made the field anyway, Virginia was expected to be a top-five seed but quarantine periods for UVA players and staff could cause the team to miss March Madness. As the International Olympic Committee meets this week for its 127th Session, it appears an answer may not be imminent. Earlier in the week, an Olympic spokesman said a decision will likely come by the end of the month. “In February 2020, vaccines were a distant hope,” said Craig Spence , chief brand officer for the IPC. “In February 2021, they are a reality.” While Wimbledon was canceled, each of the Grand Slams this year were held in less-than-ideal circumstances. The Australian Open was held as scheduled in the spring but during a period of horrible wildfires in the country. The U.S. Open was held during its scheduled dates with no fans while the French Open, typically held in May in Paris, was instead held in late September with a limited amount of fans on hand. National border restrictions throughout Europe that pertain to certain countries in certain situations have forced five games this week in two of the biggest club competitions in the world to be moved to new sites with more coming in the following weeks. That policy will come into play immediately because within 48 hours of its season opener, California announced it has a positive test and has undergone contact tracing that led to the cancellation of its game against Washington. Sills said the league’s success in getting the season almost to the finish line without any canceled games is down to several elements. While there was a focus on the daily testing done at each facility, using point of care PCR tests compared to antigen testing allowed the league and teams to get rapid results to detect cases earlier than would have been first possible. The NFL also modified its definition of high-risk contacts beyond guidelines such as six feet of distance between people and 15 minutes of close contact commonly used for contact tracing. Sills’ other point of emphasis was strengthening protocols across the league in mid-November with teams not allowed to have in-person meetings, wearing masks on the sidelines and several other stringent measures. #Tokyo2020 Spectators Policy: mostly 'no spectators' Cleveland’s facility has been closed because of league protocols all week and the team held a virtual walk-through on Wednesday because the team is not allowed to gather in-person. NFL rules say that anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus must sit out at least 10 days. The NFL cleared the team to practice Friday. “Every job you go to has rules,” Barkley told Costas . “I think there should be mandates to get vaccinated. And if you don’t want to live by the rules at your job, you have the right to get fired. You do have rights. But there’s certain things I can’t do at my job. There’s certain things you can’t do at your job. I think in all sports it should be mandated that you have to get vaccinated. And if people don’t like it, they have the right to walk away.” One thing I got clarity on: Say the SEC lost its AQ Tues AM. The SEC does not get to replace its AQ w/ another team. It’s a multi-bid league, so Bama would get replaced with highest-ranked standby team. Only 1-bid confs in Sel. Sunday field of 68 bracket can do this.— Matt Norlander February 25, 2021 Because of its inherent close contact between competitors, wrestling’s viability during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing issue for administrators at the high school and college athletic levels. On the collegiate level, the NCAA Division I and Division II national championships are still scheduled for later this month — Division II from March 12–13 and Division I from March 18–20, both in St. Louis. But the Division III championships were canceled by the NCAA; the National Wrestling Coaches Association in response will hold a Division III Coaches Association championship at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on March 12–13 with fans in attendance. As the delta variant has surged cases throughout the Southern part of the United States, the past week-plus has served as perhaps a turning point where vaccinations are not only encouraged by professional and collegiate leagues and teams, but the destinations that host them will make it mandatory to enjoy going to games again. Organizers also worked to make sure that Victory Field, the downtown baseball stadium, would be open to players each day for some fresh air out of their hotel floors. They also made sure to set up a safe environment atop a garage parking area so that each team would get photos taken in front of a mammoth bracket that was placed on the side of the downtown JW Marriot promoting each round’s progress. In light of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dew Tour’s annual summer skateboard competition in Long Beach, California, will now be held May 2021 and serve as the last Olympic qualifying event in the U.S. before the Tokyo Games. In June 2019, Dew Tour served as the first global Olympic qualifying event in the U.S. for men’s and women’s skateboard street and park competitions. “They all carried certificates showing their negative test results,” Izumisano Mayor Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu said. “We never imagined they could be infected.” While some would snark that accomplishing the feat of being the last team standing against COVID-19 may be worth a banner right next to the one it won at Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, that will not be the case, least of all because Seattle Coach Pete Carroll was fined $100,000 in September for not wearing a mask during a game. While the Bills will not be home or have fans at home games until the playoffs, this week there will be six games played with fans in attendance, highlighted by the Dallas Cowboys and its plans to have up to — and possibly in excess of — 30,000 fans. The Cowboys have steadily increased its attendance this season and currently average just under 27,000 per game, but several other teams that have had a consistent number of fans allowed this year have not exactly been seeing “sellouts” happen. The league also is adamant they would not jump the line to do so.— John Shannon December 11, 2020 The announcement was met with immediate questions about whether the conference will attempt to start football before January 1 as well as other sports and reverse its previous decision. Scott said the league will evaluate options to resume competition before January 1 but pointed out that six of the league’s schools, four in California and two in Oregon, do not have permission from local and state health authorities to hold full contact practice. Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer has advocated for the vaccine and been vocal about his displeasure with unvaccinated players. The team brought in Dr. Michael Osterholm , a renowned epidemiologist, Monday to educate players about the vaccine. When asked about the meeting, Cousins replied: “Informative. It was what it was.” The CFL had a U.S. expansion team in Sacramento in 1993 and by 1995 had five American teams with the Baltimore Stallions winning the Grey Cup. The following year the league nearly went under financially but was able to continue operations; three years later in 1999, World Wrestling Federation chairman Vince McMahon was offered the chance to buy the Toronto Argonauts and countered with a proposal to buy the entire league, which the owners refused. McMahon instead started the XFL. The NBA, which less than a month into its already abbreviated 2020–2021 season has seen players sidelined because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing protocols, will continue to move forward with the season in the hopes that tightened protocols for the movement and social interactions of players and coaches pays off. But within a month of the season tipping off, the league is already facing multiple questions about whether its desire to have a full season should be outweighed by the health issues involved. Georgia had two games postponed in 2020 against Missouri and Vanderbilt; the latter game was eventually canceled. Georgia Coach Kirby Smart said his team is one of the six over 85 percent vaccinated “but we’re not stopping there. It’s not about a number, it’s not about a threshold. … What it’s really about is being able to save our season, being able to keep our players safe. We want to keep our players safe. We want to keep our coaches and staff safe. We want to keep our family members safe and that comes through vaccinations.” While the NCAA tournament is obviously the biggest and most prestigious postseason event, there are others. One, the CIT tournament made up of mid-major teams, already has announced it will not be held this spring. But the NIT, which for decades outshone the NCAA tournament and now is a clear No. 2 behind the NCAA for attention, will be held this year in conditions similar to the NCAA tournaments. The Big Ten and Pac-12’s decisions come one day after the canceled its football season, the second conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision to do so after the Mid-American Conference announced its cancellation on Saturday. The Mountain West said it will “explore the feasibility of rescheduling fall sports competition, including the possibility of those sports competing in the spring, and develop options for consideration.” MLS, compared to the NFL or NBA or MLB, it is a bit more reliant on matchday revenue that includes in-person attendance. MLS was able to have fans in restricted numbers at multiple sites this season, but even should a vaccine be widely available in time for next year, “we are concerned about when we are going to be able to at least have an opportunity to have fans attend our games and revenues from ticketing and sponsorship and concessions related to that,” Garber said. Meanwhile, in Boston, the Columbia Threadneedle Investments Boston Triathlon has announced plans to return August 28–29. The city’s only triathlon typically takes place in July but will be staged after taking 2020 off from competition. The NFL’s third team in Florida, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have been having approximately 25 percent of capacity at home games at Raymond James Stadium, the site of this season’s Super Bowl on February 7. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has floated the idea of the NFL inviting health-care workers to be at the game after they received the vaccine. USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships USA Cycling Gran Fondo National Championships USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships USA Cycling Elite and Junior Track National Championships USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships Each fan in attendance was given personal protective equipment as one of myriad safety protocols. Other protocols included social distancing, all tickets being on mobile devices and an entirely cashless experience inside the stadium. As Higgins said on Monday, “health and safety drove every decision throughout the entire event.” Once on the roads, those buses will have access to designated Olympic lanes. Tokyo 2020 said it will monitor the locations of buses as well as traffic patterns on Tokyo roads, which officials said are seeing 95 percent of their pre-pandemic traffic, or more than 1 million vehicles per day. Entrance gates to highways will be closed if necessary to allow Olympic-related travel to continue across the city. Tournament Director Guy Forget said “our goal is not to put them in a necklace and attach them to their hotel or to the Roland Garros stadium,” and that players are aware of the restrictions. Doing activities such as jogging will be allowed. The chance of fans from outside of Japan looks to be near zero. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25 while multiple reports from Japan say a decision that foreign fans will not be allowed has been made but not announced. The French Tennis Federation will essentially split the Roland Garros grounds into three sites with a show court and surrounding outside courts in each segment. Capacity at the Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen sites will be limited to 5,000, while the Simonne Mathieu site is capped at 1,500. “In2019, the New York City marathon broke records to become the world’s largest marathon ever,” Cuomo said. “While canceling the race was the right choice in 2020, we are excited to welcome runners back to our beautiful city. New Yorkers worked hard to flatten the curve after the COVID-19 outbreak and it is that work that allows us to be able to take this step in bringing normalcy back to our state.” The NCAA men’s basketball committee reminded conferences of the February 26 deadline to make clear how their respective champions would be determined. But it did not say that postseason tournaments would be the sole way for automatic qualifiers to be crowned. A downward trend in COVID-19 cases throughout most of the country has meant that a limited amount of fans are allowed in spring training facilities throughout Arizona and Florida. At Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, the crowd was capped at about 2,200 fans, which is 16% of the usual capacity. “It was a good step in the right direction, and we’re continuing to trend up,” Rivera said. “It’s ultimately an ownership vote, but I think everyone knows the unique circumstances that we’ve faced this season,” Goodell said on Thursday. “They also know how extraordinary Tampa has been in working through that. I think that will be a big consideration in their minds when they do sit down and vote. In some ways this whole pandemic and ability to work through this is a reflection on this community’s can-do attitude. They never wavered on moving forward with this game. Those are the kind of people who make this world special and I think the NFL will recognize that going forward.” With the regular season nearly complete, here's a look at how all 31 conferences fared this season in trying to get their conference games in. I'm impressed the national average was 85.9%. @ValleyHoops was the only conference in the country to play 100% of its scheduled games. March 3, 2021 The Orange County Register described a plan that would have the NHL season played in four hub cities with the Anaheim Ducks lobbying to be one of the hosts for the Western Conference. One of the realigned divisions would have to be the seven Canadian teams given the closure at the border — anyone entering Canada must quarantine for 14 days, making a schedule near impossible for the NHL. While the NFLPA is able to collectively bargain COVID policies for its players, those employed by the NFL’s teams — highlighted by coaching staffs — are required to be vaccinated if they want to maintain Tier 1 protocol status that enables them to work closely with players. Teams with at least 85 percent of players vaccinated will face significantly fewer restrictions. “At the meeting, it was agreed that in view of the current COVID-19 situation, it will be necessary to reduce the risk of infection by restricting the movement of members of the public,” organizers said in a statement. “It has therefore been decided to ask the public to refrain from spectating along the course. Major League Baseball did not have fans at any games until the National League Championship Series and World Series, both held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, with approximately 11,500 fans allowed. The Wall Street Journal has reported that 40 percent of each team’s annual revenue comes from ticket sales and other game-day fan activities. “Thank you for using the three biggest weeks of your organization’s year to expose exactly how you feel about women’s basketball — an afterthought,” Georgia Tech Coach Nell Fortner said Tuesday . “Thank you for showing off the disparities between the men’s and women’s tournament that are on full display in San Antonio, from coronavirus testing, to lack of weight training facilities, to game floors that hardly tell anyone that it’s the NCAA Tournament and many more. But these disparities are just a snapshot of larger, more pervasive issues when it comes to women’s sports and the NCAA.” The Patriots are the third team in the NFL to acknowledge that it will not have capacity crowds this season. The Jacksonville Jaguars said over the weekend that the team would cap attendance at 25 percent of the capacity at TIAA Bank Field this fall, with tickets and most in-stadium purchases being cashless and those allowed to attend games required to wear face coverings. The Jaguars’ home stadium has a capacity of 67,164 . The Baltimore Ravens earlier announced that they would cap attendance at 14,000 at M&T Bank Stadium, which has a capacity of 71,008. “We need this show to be great,” Scott Miller , NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said Saturday. “For us, our primary concern is a safe Games for the athletes and for our Japanese hosts as well,” USOPC Board of Directors Chair Susanne Lyons said. “We’re prepared to make whatever sacrifices are needed to allow the athletes to participate.” But the biggest question is off the field. MLS has been locked in tenuous and frankly bitter negotiations with the MLS Players Association about the collective bargaining agreement that threatens the plans for the season. “Although no agreement has been reached, MLS is committed to meet as many times as necessary with the MLSPA in the coming days to finalize an agreement,” the league said. The 2020-21 NHL season will be, essentially, a 2021 NHL season with the league and players’ association looking at a target opening day of January 1, 2021. A four-year extension of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement that was ratified July 10 a tenative start date of December 1 but with obvious qualifiers about the spread of COVID-19 have led to the mulled delay in a start. Bach is also expected to visit Hiroshima on July 16, at the same time as his vice president and colleague  John Coates  is to visit Nagasaki. Coates is best-known in Tokyo for comments made a month ago when he was asked if the Olympics would be held during a state of emergency, replying “absolutely yes.” For all the deserved attention we give to the professional, collegiate and amateur sports leagues that are trying to put together seasons this past 2020 and already looking into 2021, there may be no more difficult task than to have a truly international sport go on as scheduled in the coronavirus era — as the ATP Tour is showing. Polls have shown between 50 and 80 percent of the Japanese public oppose the Olympics, depending on how the question is phrased. About 40 people staged a small anti-Olympic protest outside of the five-star hotel in Tokyo where IOC President Thomas Bach is staying. The coronavirus outbreak has forced difficult decisions for the sports-event industry. Nearly every major sporting event has been canceled, moved or postponed. Here is a look at where things stand. Attendance for the French Open in September will be capped at 11,500 per day as tournament organizers prepare for the Grand Slam to be held in the fall for the first time ever. The Youth Olympic Games scheduled for Senegal in 2022 will be postponed until 2026 after a mutual agreement between the host country and International Olympic Committee. The agreement was approved by the IOC Executive Board and will be submitted to the IOC Session for ratification on Friday. While most NBA teams have not announced policies, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Yahoo Sports on Monday that having capacity crowds at any point this season is unlikely. The event was scheduled to be held from September 29 to October 3 in and around Silver City, New Mexico. The other UCI stage race this year in the U.S. is the Joe Martin Stage Race that is being held this week in Arkansas. No games in the regular season ‘Wubble’ at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, were postponed because of test results. There were three instances of players getting inconclusive results and having to sit out a game before having a negative test. The SEC will have cross country, women’s soccer and volleyball for all 14 member schools in the fall and “SEC soccer and volleyball teams will participate in spring competition as well, with details of formats contingent on final decisions by the NCAA to conduct spring championships in those sports,” the league said. In the wake of the virus spreading throughout the Titans organization, along with multiple members of the Las Vegas Raiders going to an indoor charity event without wearing facial coverings, the NFL has sent to each of its teams a memo detailing even more enhanced protocols for franchises to follow through with. Among them are two daily tests, including a point-of-care test that returns faster results. All players and coaches must also be wearing PPE and facial coverings on the practice field and gloves must be worn by every player except quarterbacks on their throwing hand. All meetings between teams and even positional breakdowns must be done virtually and there will be a prohibition against team or player gatherings away from the team facility. “As excited as we were to host this year’s All-Star Game, we know that it will be worth the wait and that Dodger Stadium and Los Angeles will host a world-class event in 2022,” said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten . “We’d like to thank Commissioner Rob Manfred for re-awarding All-Star Week to Los Angeles so quickly, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Gil Cedillo for their continued support of this premier sporting event, which will have lasting benefits for our community.” Canada Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the Blue Jays’ return home plans include significant limitations on unvaccinated individuals, “who will have to undergo a modified quarantine, not be permitted to go anywhere but the hotel and stadium and have no interaction with the general public.” Each tournament through the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta in September will now be played without fans in attendance including next week’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota ; the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis ; the Barracuda Championship in Truckee, California ; or the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina , the last tournament in which players can qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. Part of that optimism comes from recent industry guidelines put out by Running USA , which itself has announced the return of its in-person annual conference, February 20–22, 2022 at Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Badgers, who went to the Rose Bowl last season, stopped team activities on October 28 and its scheduled game at Nebraska on October 31 was cancelled. Both that game and the Purdue game will not be rescheduled. USA Ultimate has canceled its previously postponed championship event in 2020, including the Beach Championships, the Division I and Division III College Championships, the Masters Championships and the Youth Club Championships. When the Dallas Cowboys reported to training camp in Oxnard, California, on Wednesday, the team had not reached the NFL’s 85 percent team vaccination threshold that would allow for an easing of COVID-19 restrictions — something that disappoints Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin . Division I will work toward hosting scaled back fall championships in the spring, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors have determined— but board members said the fall championships should be played in the spring only if they can be conducted safely and in accordance with federal, state and local health guidelines. Bettman also said during his State of the League address there is no conclusion on if the NHL will have its players participate in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, admitting “we have real concerns about whether or not it’s sensible to be participating and us shutting down for an Olympic break.” Phoenix leads the series 2-0 after Thursday’s win over Milwaukee, 118-108. Game 3 in Milwaukee is Sunday night. The NCAA has said that any team going to the Indianapolis bubble must have seven consecutive days of negative test results before they can travel, leaving the issue of what would happen if a team gets an automatic bid by winning its conference tournament but then is unable to travel to Indianapolis. The Big Ten Conference has reportedly looked into moving its conference tournament to Indianapolis so that any team is already in the region. Turkey was used on last year’s revised calendar and Istanbul Park, three hours away from the previous race in Baku, will take Canada’s place. The proposal would move the start of spring training back to late March right as many players have made or are finishing arrangements on housing in Arizona and Florida. The offer also conveniently comes right after Cactus League officials made public a request to delay spring training because of a surge in cases throughout Arizona — a letter that was later reported to have been encouraged by Major League Baseball itself. Cincinnati’s game against Temple was canceled a day after the Bearcats were ranked at No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings. And as for the team ranked No. 1 in those standings, Alabama, its game against Auburn is still on — but after a different SEC game between Arkansas and Missouri was canceled, the league made several scheduling adjustments that includes a previously canceled Crimson Tide game against LSU being rescheduled for December 5. Notre Dame was in tournament because St. Lawrence University, the ECAC Tournament champions, withdrew because of positives on its team. The deadline to withdraw from the tournament was Monday; the withdrawal of SLU and inserting the Irish into the field kept alive Notre Dame’s streak of making the NCAA Tournament. While nearly not as high-profile as Duke, Virginia and Kansas, there have been other teams leaving their conference tournaments because of positive tests: Florida International in the Conference USA Tournament and top seed North Carolina AT&T in the MEAC Tournament. The NBA is taking a risk in trying to play the season in home markets while rising virus numbers throughout the country have overwhelmed ICU units in many of the league’s markets. While professional leagues have played games without being in a bubble atmosphere, the Major League Baseball season was nearly suspended right after it began before steadying itself for the final few months of games and Major League Soccer had multiple postponements of games once it left its own bubble in Orlando. The number of professional sports venues that will put forth requirements for fans this season continues to rise each day. The Buffalo Bills said Wednesday that masks will be required of all people in indoor spaces at Highmark Stadium and those who do not have proof of full vaccination must wear masks outdoors as well. Chase Center in San Francisco, home of the Golden State Warriors, said Thursday on Twitter that all fans ages 12 and up must show proof of vaccination to attend games this coming season and “proof of a negative COVID-19 test will no longer serve as an accepted health pass for fans.” “Having the fans back is obviously what we all want,” Kevin Harvick said. “Having that energy back in the stands was definitely fun to hear, fun to be a part of.” Within the shock that was Phil Mickelson ’s stunning PGA Championship win on Sunday at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, was the scene at the 18th green — and, in many ways, the long-ago normalcy of the scene. But the Big Ten’s announcement, predictably, increased the pressure on governors in California and Oregon — and with immediate results, which in this rapidly developing season could lead to the Pac-12 starting its season much earlier than first expected. And within 12 hours of Scott’s first comments, another statement soon was released. “Navigating the twists and turns of a global pandemic has been daunting, but at every turn our community has been able to look around the corner and find a positive path to a brighter horizon,” said Kevin Lewis , director of the Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office. “The dedication and commitment that the Ironman team has made to ensure success is inspiring. Working together, we’ve put together what will be an amazing world championship event this September, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to host the world here again in 2022.” UnitedHealthcare will stay on as presenting sponsor for 2022. Major League Baseball’s first week of the 2021 has been more about what has happened off the field rather than on the field. Not only did the league move the All-Star Game to Denver from Atlanta, the Washington Nationals’ start was delayed until Tuesday after several players tested positive for COVID-19. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said hosting all teams and personnel associated with the championship will bring more than 35,000 room nights to the downtown San Antonio area and “the impact that 64 games and 63 nationally televised TV games brings to our region is immeasurable and will not be taken lightly. … When we got notified of the opportunity to host the entire tournament, we jumped at the opportunity.” “The rules are very clear. And there’s no question about that. And so in terms of when that circumstance may or may not arise in the rest of the tournament, the rules are the same,” Bolton said. “And that’s not about us kicking anybody out of the tournament. That is the need for that player to withdraw because they have to isolate.” “I think our team is eager and ready to go,” USOPC Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland said on a conference call Wednesday after the organization’s first board meeting of the year. Ready or not — and it insists it is ready — the National Football League will kick off the 2021 regular season with sold-out stadiums and teams that are mostly vaccinated but still with breakthrough cases that already have sidelined at least one Dallas Cowboys starter ahead of tonight’s game against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Formula 1 has had to cancel the Canadian Grand Prix for the second year in a row with Turkey taking its place on the calendar on June 13. Those discussions have already started and will continue on another day. Sunday night and Monday morning, however, was a time to reflect for the league on what it was able to accomplish. Should both L.A. County and Orange County move into the red tier, which they are close to doing, the Dodgers would be able to have 11,200 fans for the April 9 home opener against the Washington Nationals and the Angels could have about 9,000 fans for Opening Day against the White Sox. The Padres in San Diego County believe they are progressing on the same path as the Dodgers and Angels, which would allow them to have around 8,500 fans. The Canadiens have a 3-0 series lead on the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division finals; the winner will play in the semifinals against either the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche. The NHL is interested in securing vaccine when and if it’s available for private purchase. One of this year’s scheduled semifinal sites, the Rose Bowl, has been the center of multiple reports saying the CFP semifinal may be moved because teams and leagues are unhappy with a recent decision by local and state health officials that would prohibit any family members from attending the game in Pasadena, California. Despite the statements of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has urged pro sports teams to have capacity crowds at their stadiums, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers limited attendance at the last home game to just under 16,500 fans. While there is always the chance of that capacity to be increased as the season goes on, the chances of having a full house has always seemed bleak; there is also the fact that while the NFL has been able to jump through a lot of hoops to keep the schedule mostly intact, there is nothing to say that the schedule may be severely disrupted between now and February. “We have continued to monitor border and travel restrictions closely, and it is increasingly clear that these restrictions are not likely to be relaxed in time for most international athletes to be able to race in St. George,” said Andrew Messick , president and chief executive officer for The Ironman Group. “We have a special host partner in St. George and its surrounding communities, and we are looking forward to being able to host a full international two-day race in 2022.” Team USA will assemble July 4 in Las Vegas and will play exhibitions against Spain, Australia, Nigeria and Argentina before leaving for Tokyo. Players ranging from James Harden to Chris Paul and Donovan Mitchell all withdrew from consideration after injuries in the case of Harden and Mitchell; Paul, whose Phoenix Suns are in the Western Conference finals, has missed the first two games of the series after testing positive for COVID. The NFL remains the most powerful sports league in the country but even it was not immune to the pandemic with major decreases in ticket revenue for teams because they were unable to host fans, either at all or in highly restricted numbers. The league may be the most well-suited for a quick return to normal when it comes to sponsorship revenue but one way that the league will look to expand its financial outlook is increasing its worldwide reach. NBA teams will be given the chance to rest players in non-nationally televised games and in some scenarios for teams playing back-to-back games. Qualifying factors for a player to rest include age, injury history, season and career workload and schedule issues — including how many games a team has recently played and how many consecutive road games it has played. The USL Championship has postponed the second consecutive match involving San Antonio FC after “multiple covered individuals” from the club have tested positive, the league said. The team’s game August 14 at New York Red Bulls II was postponed as well as this coming Saturday’s home game against Real Monarchs. The home game will be rescheduled to September 1. And tonight in the Western Conference games, the marquee matchup between Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors and LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers will have 30 percent capacity at the Staples Center; the Memphis Grizzlies will have 20 percent capacity when it hosts the San Antonio Spurs in Wednesday’s other game. Bach said the IOC will deliver playbooks to the world’s National Olympic Committees in early February that will begin to spell out details of how each stakeholder group will be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures in Tokyo. Those details, he noted, will likely change as more data becomes available. But with qualification tournaments currently taking place around the world, Bach said the organization is confident the Games can proceed. He noted that international federations have organized 7,000 events this winter and conducted 175,000 COVID tests. Only 0.18 percent have come back positive, leading the IOC to have confidence that measures to contain the virus will succeed in Tokyo as well. What has happened off the court at the NCAA Women’s Tournament in the controlled environment of San Antonio, Texas, overshadowed what ended up being an exciting start on the court — and in an era where women’s sports have never been more popular, there are many reasons why. AT&T Stadium had its air conditioning system upgraded before the season and doors behind each end zone are open to allow fresh air during games. Fans in Dallas, much as at other NFL stadiums, must sit in small groups and are supposed to wear masks except when eating or drinking — but anybody who has watched a Cowboys game knows that rule is not strictly enforced. As for fans at the games, four of the six scheduled for this weekend will have people in the stands. The biggest crowd will be in Tennessee, where up to 14,520 fans will be allowed to attend as the Titans host the Ravens on Sunday afternoon. The rowdiest crowd will almost certainly be in Buffalo, where the Bills host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon with up to 6,700 members of Bills Mafia — shut out of the stadium for the entire regular season — allowed. The Knicks and Nets had been operating at 10 percent capacity in the regular season. The majority of the health care workers will come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area. All 32 NFL clubs will select vaccinated health care workers from their communities to attend the Super Bowl as well. Gameday protocols at the stadium will include mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing plus seating in pods, touchless in-stadium experiences for concessions and restrooms as well as controlled entry and egress. Mayer also told ESPN that the NHL has talked with U.S.-based NHL arenas that are home to non-playoff teams about housing a Canadian team. The Giants and Athletics are the only teams in California that play in a county that is in the red tier — meaning the Giants could have approximately 8,000 fans at Oracle Park and the A’s could have fans as well for its home games, although the total would depend on what the team lists as its official seating capacity. The Lake Tahoe weekend was the latest evolution in the league’s tradition of having outdoor games. What started with the inaugural Winter Classic less than two decades ago has spawned multiple outdoor events each season under regular times; the league in 2014 had six separate outdoor events. But none of those events until this year had been held without fans. With less than two weeks until the NASCAR playoffs begin, the talk around the garage has expanded from who may get in and what drivers would potentially switch teams in the offseason to include the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases around the country and what would happen if another Corey LaJoie situation occurs. The California Interscholastic Federation has moved all high school athletics back to at least December or January, creating a new statewide calendar that will have two sports seasons in the winter and fall while allowing each of the state’s 10 sections to put together their own calendar to reflect when their regions feel ready to have competition. Georgia will have up to 25 percent of total capacity — 23,186 fans total — with only single-game tickets available and season-ticket holders’ statuses unchanged for the future. Tickets for the Bulldogs’ home games will be $150 per game, split between the $75 ticket price and a $75 contribution requirement. Alabama would start at 20 percent capacity for Bryant-Denny Stadium while Missouri and Tennessee would seat 25 percent of capacity; Texas A&M plans to have 30 percent of capacity full for games. As negotiations for a shortened 2021 season dragged, the league was forced to postpone its two planned outdoor events — the New Year’s Day Winter Classic scheduled for Target Field in Minneapolis and the NHL Stadium Series game scheduled for Raleigh, North Carolina, in February. While those announcements gave the impression that the league would be going indoors-only this season, that turns out not to be the case. The Memorial , one of the biggest non-majors on the Jack Nicklaus , will not have fans at the event after originally planning for a restricted number of attendees. The decision was announced right as Mike DeWine approved a phased approach to allowing fans and guests, tournament officials had announced a 20 percent maximum capacity on the property, encompassing patrons and private venues, as well as essential staff needed to operate the event. “In making its decision, which was based on multiple factors, the Big Ten Conference relied on the medical advice and counsel of the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee,” the league said in a statement, adding that they will evaluate the option of having fall sports season held in the spring of 2021. It also noted that a decision on winter and spring sports will not be made until a later date. The NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers has been canceled, according to NFL Network and ESPN. The game was scheduled for August 6 and the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio, on August 8 has been postponed to 2021. Hall of Fame president David Baker previously said the game and ceremony were on as scheduled, but there were contingencies in place if postponement was necessary. It is the biggest event the NFL has had to cancel because of the coronavirus. While the St. Louis Blues have said it will allow a small group of medical workers to attend its home games, only three teams officially will have fans at home games: Dallas, the Florida Panthers and the Arizona Coyotes. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins may be allowed to host fans soon; the Lightning planned to have fans at home games but announced over last weekend that fans will not be at Amalie Arena until at least February 5 after a surge in local cases. There really is nothing in American sports like the Super Bowl — part game, part cultural touchstone and part tourism jackpot for destinations that get to host more than a week’s worth of activities with the eyes of the world upon it. Coming the day after the Philadelphia 76ers played a game with only eight players — and maybe not for the last time depending on protocols that the team will face that situation — the league is trying to calm nerves. In the past week, the 76ers, Mavericks, Bulls, Celtics and the Heat have seen multiple players go on the injury report because of either a positive test or contact tracing that caused them not to be available. Speaking of vaccines, one of the looming issues for the NBA will be if players will get vaccinated. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said during the All-Star break that the league won’t require players to get the vaccine, but he believes most will. Some members of the New Orleans Pelicans who met Louisiana’s newly expanded eligibility requirements received the vaccine last weekend . NFL Network’s Judy Battista reported Thursday that more than 78 percent of players have had at least one shot and 14 clubs have at least 85 percent of players vaccinated. IOC President Thomas Bach has insisted throughout the spring that “there is no Plan B” when it comes to the torch being lit on July 23. sports event article example It is important to note, though, that he said the same thing in March 2020 and within a week the IOC postponed the Games for the first time in modern history. The NCAA will allow up to 50 percent fan capacity for its 2021 outdoor spring championships and Division I fall championships being held in the spring, based on recommendations from the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. I could finally move the Bonnies out of the pause zone and into the "out of quarantine" section. Penn State is not alone among Power 5 conference members that, even in an era of gigantic television revenue, are counting the costs of COVID-19. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta estimated that his department will be short $55 millon to $65 million in the current fiscal year . South Carolina’s athletic department projected its outstanding debut to be more than $160 million on June 30, the school estimated during a board of trustees retreat in January . To Rivers’ point, the NBA released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying that as league-wide daily testing resumed from November 24 through November 30, “Of the 546 players tested for COVID-19 during this initial return-to-market testing phase, 48 have returned positive tests. Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test during this initial phase of testing in their team’s market is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance.” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement, “I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today. I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes. We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.” Most notable among the ACC football changes is that instead of two divisions the league will be a one-division format. The top two teams at the end of the season would play in the ACC Championship Game at season’s end. Each team’s non-conference game will be selected by the respective school and must be played in the home state of the ACC member school; all non-conference opponents must also meet the ACC’s medical protocol requirements. Athletes will be required to stay within a “bubble” between the Olympic Village, competition venues and training areas. The Kyodo news agency in Japan said foreign athletes and staff will have to be tested twice within 96 hours before leaving for Japan. They will also be tested again upon arrival in Japan. Emory University Sports Epidemiologist Zachary Binney said on Twitter if there are approximately 50 people in the Yankees’ travel group, “It may be nothing short of a vaccine miracle there were *only* 8 cases!” given the amount of time that teams spend indoors in enclosed settings such as the clubhouse and dugout, let alone when traveling on extended road swings. And while fans — with the expectation of being able to go to games this fall — are waiting to see what the schedules will look like, the fact is the NFL has not finished the rules for a 2021 schedule. The Washington Post reported that the league is working to put together a 17-game regular season, an increase of one game from previous years, as well as a three-game preseason. The deliberations about when to implement a 17-game season are tied in part to the soon-to-be-announced new TV contracts, the Post reported. Toshiro Muto , the chief executive officer of the Tokyo organizing committee, has said ticket holders from abroad would receive refunds but final decisions will be made by Authorized Ticket Resellers appointed by national Olympic committees to handle sales outside of Japan. These dealers charge fees of up to 20% above the ticket price. It is not clear if the fees will be refunded. “We want to provide opportunities for student-athletes whenever possible,” said Acting Board Chair Denise Trauth , president of Texas State. “We understand it will be complicated and different, and we’re not certain how it will look. But we believe it’s important to try to give students that championship experience.” Bristol Motor Speedway will have modified event procedures and protocols which will include social distancing amongst groups of fans in the grandstands and individually in concession lines; enhanced cleaning and sanitation in high-touch, high-traffic public areas; added hand-sanitizer stations; limited guests in suites; and infield admission for race team and operation personnel only. Fans will be allowed to bring in one soft-sided clear bag with food and beverage and coolers will be prohibited. Japan is facing a surge in COVID-19 infections and a state of emergency still exists in the country. Japan on Friday expanded the state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga repeated his determination to hold the Games after it was postponed last year. The sniping started with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey criticizing the ACC’s decision to give both the Tigers and Irish an open date ahead of this week’s title game instead of playing — and potentially being upset by an unranked team and dealing a killer blow to both teams’ CFP hopes. “I don’t think there’s anybody else that I’m aware of that has played more games than Clemson and Notre Dame, and certainly not more games than the ACC, so that rings pretty hollow to me,” Sankey told ESPN . “We look at our league. We don’t worry a whole lot about other leagues.” “It is with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to take this decision,” Henry said in a club statement. “The last year has been an extremely difficult one for me personally. Due to the worldwide pandemic, I was unable to see my children. Unfortunately due to the ongoing restrictions and the fact that we will have to relocate to the US again for several months will be no different. The separation is too much of a strain for me and my kids.” While some of the games were close to “sellouts” including Miami and Denver, it is notable that the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, both of which allowed up to 12,000 fans, instead had crowds of 9,712 and 10,972, respectively. While the Kansas City Chiefs are allowed to have up to 16,700 fans in attendance, only 11,932 attended the team’s win over the New York Jets. The largest crowd in the world for a sports event showed up at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday with 135,000 packing the stands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the race won dramatically on the final lap by Helio Castroneves for his fourth win in the marquee event of the IndyCar Series. “We’re coming back to play this season because we think it’s important for the game, because our fans and our players want us to, and it may give people — particularly in isolation, or where there are curfews — a sense of normalcy and something to do,” Bettman said. “We’re going to lose more money, at the club level and the league level, by playing than by not playing.” When the puck drops next season, the NHL will already be in Seattle with the expansion Kraken and Las Vegas with the Golden Knights. But the NHL, reeling after its financial losses from the past season and with no fans at any Canada-based regular season games this season, itself turned to a new revenue stream this year with helmet advertisements for teams . Many of the NHL’s teams used the advertising space as a make-good on corporate deals lost during the pandemic but overall, the new advertising brought in millions for the league. Players’ annoyance with having to congregate in Atlanta for an exhibition game was magnified after the NBA told players, coaches and other employees they may not go to a Super Bowl party outside their homes and to keep any party invitation lists basically to family only. The league had 27 players test positive in a two-week span, which forced the postponement of 21  games between January 10–27, although last week’s round of testing returned only one new player positive. The postponement of a game this season comes on the heels of what were almost three full weeks of clean tests throughout the league, which has been diligent as well about coaches who were not wearing facial coverings on the sidelines with multiple fines already issued. The league continued its warnings to teams for failure to comply with pre-approved protocols on Wednesday. The NCAA’s guidance for college basketball this season is a 14-day pause in activity once somebody within a program tests positive. But because college sports is so diverse, the amount of testing that each school and conference will do is inconsistent. Testing and health regulations is what has caused ESPN Events to cancel 10 early-season tournament events that it had planned to relocate from their traditional sites into the ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. Multiple reports indicated that the schools and network had differences over the required health and safety protocols, including the time spent in quarantine a positive test occur and the costs involved. The Athletic reported that several schools who would have been in one of the tournaments had issues over the testing protocols that ESPN was planning on using, which would have been more stringent than the ones they currently utilize on campus per their conference’s guidelines. The NFL is not as reliant on game-day revenues as other professional leagues but the league still carries an enormous financial windfall. With each week’s news about increased access to vaccinations, one of the topics that will be addressed especially as the season gets closer to kickoff is whether the league will be able to roll back some of the enhanced health and safety protocols because of vaccinated players but also have capacity crowds at each of its stadiums — hopes that, as of now, the league and union are trying to ever so slightly tamper down. Opposition lawmakers in Japan’s national legislature suggested Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga scheduled the state of emergency to accommodate the IOC and President Thomas Bach , who is scheduled to arrive in Japan for the torch relay in Hiroshima less than a week after the state of emergency is lifted. The government and IOC have said said the precautions are in place for Japan’s “Golden Week” holiday, which starts Thursday. LSU coach Ed Orgeron said earlier this month that the Tigers were fully vaccinated as a coaching staff and “I think we’re down to one , and he may have gotten vaccinated.” Tuesday’s Game Dallas at Baltimore: No fans allowed Seats will be sold in groups of four with separation between groups. Contact-limiting measures such as mobile tickets will be implemented. There will also be metal detector screenings and a no bag policy at entries on performance nights. Safety measures will include a mask requirement at all times while inside Globe Life Field and there will be additional hand washing and sanitizing stations throughout the building.  Nearby Fort Worth will play host to the Wrangler NFR 2020 experience, as the annual PRCA Convention in addition to the Cowboy Christmas. Georgia and Louisiana account for nearly 40 percent of all the nation’s hospitalizations. While Alabama’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the country, Louisiana and Georgia are not far behind with 38 percent of their populations inoculated. Florida is closer to the national rate at 49 percent. “The health and well-being of the community, our players and everyone at The Genesis Invitational remains our top priority,” Tournament Director Mike Antolini said. “Throughout our extensive planning, it became clear that due to the pandemic the best way to ensure the safety for all involved is to hold the tournament without spectators. We are certainly going to miss the roars of the crowds, but we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Riviera next year.” Those TV numbers were going to be watched closely by the NCAA; Dan Gavitt , the senior vice president for basketball, said on the SportsTravel Podcast before the tournament started that “I’ll be curious to see whether some elements of this modified schedule are things that might make sense in the future. I’m particularly excited about the Sweet 16 games on Saturday and Sunday in exclusive windows where their games aren’t overlaying each other. I think it sets up to be a really spectacular weekend of college basketball if we’re fortunate enough to get great games leading into Monday and Tuesday’s Elite Eight doubleheaders. We’ll assess everything that we’ve had to adjust as a result of the pandemic and see if there are things that post-pandemic make the event better and we’ll consider those if that’s the case.” The Titans had the first COVID-19 outbreak during the NFL season last year, forcing the postponement of two games. The team was later fined $350,000 when it was discovered that during the outbreak, several players organized voluntary practices away from the team’s training facilities. Vrabel said this spring that he had been vaccinated. Sunday’s Games Minnesota at Detroit: No fans allowed Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Up to 16,000 fans allowed N.Y. Jets at New England: No fans allowed Miami at Buffalo: No fans allowed Pittsburgh at Cleveland: Up to 12,000 fans allowed Dallas at N.Y. Giants: No fans allowed Baltimore at Cincinnati: Up to 12,000 fans allowed Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Up to 10,000 fans allowed Tennessee at Houston: Up to 14,444 allowed Arizona at L.A. Rams: No fans allowed New Orleans at Carolina: Up to 1,500 friends and family members will be allowed Green Bay at Chicago: No fans allowed L.A. Chargers at Kansas City: Up to 16,811 fans allowed Seattle vs. San Francisco at Glendale, Arizona: No fans allowed Las Vegas at Denver: No fans allowed Washington at Philadelphia: No fans allowed Richardson has been running the Canadiens’ bench in Ducharme’s absence. Richardson is technically the interim interim coach, as Ducharme replaced Claude Julien , who was fired in February. Belichick said one word — “no” — when asked if vaccination status was a factor in Newton’s release. After another question, Belichick then said “your implication that the vaccination solves every problem … has not been substantiated. The number of players and coaches and staff members who have been infected with COVID after being vaccinated is a pretty high number. I wouldn’t lose sight of that,” although his answer was quickly fact-checked by NFL reporters. Bettman had said in June that the NHL would not dismiss the chances of having ads on jerseys in the future, a stark contrast to when he said in 2015 that “you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming” to permit them. Whether it was kicking or screaming, the fact that the NHL lost reportedly $3.6 billion in revenue during the 2020–2021 season because of attendance restrictions certainly eased Bettman’s reluctance. COVID protocols had been a big point in negotiations; all players who go to Beijing must be vaccinated. But that was not the only sticking point, with the league wanting to have increased rights to media and advertising including the NHL having the ability to use Games highlights on its social media channels. But ESPN’s report said the IIHF and IOC held firm against the request, knowing that many NHL stars were vocal about playing in the Games along with the NHL losing a key partner in NBC, which broadcasts the Games but a network that the NHL did not renew its broadcast deal with ahead of this season, leaving the network for ESPN and Turner Sports. “We are extremely excited to announce that we are hosting our 2021 season at the greatest tennis destination site in the world,” said WTT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eric Davidson . “The state-of-the-art facility, world class players, incredible weather and destination location will make the 2021 season one of the most enjoyable yet for our fans.” World Athletics announced that the 2020 World Indoor Championships scheduled for March 19-21, 2021, would be moved to March 2023. Within days, Nealy and the Fiesta Bowl announced that their game will only have family members of players in attendance. Hours later, the Rose Bowl announced no fans would be allowed at its College Football Playoff semifinal. Former White House medical staff member Dr. William Lang , who served in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, said lower rates of infection and increasing rates of vaccination in Texas give the decision more credibility but admitted “I know people will disagree with me. Reasonable people will disagree on this one as opposed to some of the times we’ve been with this where reasonable wouldn’t disagree, they would just say, ‘No, this is stupid.’” The WBC heavyweight championship fight between champion Tyson Fury and challenger Deontay Wilder has been rescheduled for October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas after the scheduled date, July 24, was nixed by Fury’s positive COVID-19 test. “The National Hockey League is very appreciative of the decision by the Canadian government and the Federal health officials to allow the Canadian team that advances to the Stanley Cup Semifinals and, potentially, the Final, to host games in their own rinks,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Sunday. Sills announced that from August 1 through January 31, the league had 262 positives among players and 463 among other personnel for a positivity rate of 0.08 percent — “we feel that our club facilities truly were some of the safest possible locations,” he said. He also strongly advocated for wearing facial coverings, which was required for entry into regular season games. Jeff Miller , NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, said the NFL had more than 1.2 million people at over 100 regular season games when attendance was allowed this season. The Pac-12 and West Coast – along with the Mountain West, Western Athletic and Big West Conferences – are playing in Las Vegas. The San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets have all said that fans must be fully vaccinated to attend games. The Montreal Canadiens said Wednesday that not only will fans have to be fully vaccinated to attend games, the capacity for home games to start the season will be limited to 7,500. The NHL’s 2021–22 season, back to a full 82 games, starts October 12. The league will let players opt out of the season for health concerns by October 1. Villanova earlier postponed a game against St. John’s scheduled for December 30 so the Wildcats’ players could go home and take a break — one of many decisions that have been made this month in collegiate sports with a nod toward the mental health of players who have been under tremendous stress the past months between trying to keep up with academic responsibilities along with major college sports in an era where the uneven rhythms of the sport have been more of a rollercoaster than ever. “My plan was to increase our fans as we went through the season and move the number up, and we followed that plan,” Jones said recently on 105.3 FM in Dallas. “And that’s not being insensitive to the fact that we got our COVID and outbreak. Some people will say maybe it is, but not when you’re doing it as safe as we are and not when we’re having the results we’re having.” While tens of millions of fans attended sporting events before COVID-19, each professional sports league saw a decline in total attendance from 2008 through 2018. Between advances in television technology and rising prices for many sporting events, fans were more and more often deciding the game day experience was best enjoyed from a couch or sports bar, not at the actual game itself. With more than two dozen postponements from a season that is already shortened to 56 games, the NHL may have issues getting each of its teams to that number by the time the postseason will come around. While the NBA has more than a dozen teams bringing in restricted numbers of fans at this point of its season, the NHL will only next week go up to 10 teams with fans in attendance , a devastating blow to team finances. “We are disappointed that we aren’t able to stage events at these premier destinations this year,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and ESPN Events. “We are committed to bringing both games back in 2021, and we thank our conference partners, sponsors and the local communities for their ongoing support and understanding.” The FCS season will last until mid-April with conference play and some leagues allowing for non-conference games as well. The playoff field will be streamlined to 16 teams from the original 24. The postseason field will be announced on April 18 and four rounds of playoff football will be played until the FCS Championship Game on Saturday, May 15, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which has hosted the title game since 2010. The NHL’s virus protocols last week came while the league and NHLPA announced an agreement that will, as scheduled, allow NHL players to participate in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The league’s 2021–2022 schedule had included an Olympic break when announced, but the league had maintained that no agreement had been officially made between it, the NHLPA, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee. “For the athletes, it’s going to be a sterile experience,” Coe said. “I think we have to accept that. Their day will almost certainly be village to venue, venue back to village and maybe training tracks in between.” By comparison, the Kansas City Chiefs — who host the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game — have had fans at every home game this season. The team has been allowed to host up to 16,811 fans this season; the Chiefs have averaged 13,153. The biggest game this weekend with CFP implications will match No. 3 Ohio State against No. 9 Indiana in Columbus, Ohio, but the Buckeyes will not allow anybody in the stadium for the game — even family members of players and coaches. The school did have family members in the stands earlier during this already abbreviated season, but the Columbus Department of Health instituted a stay-at-home order going into effect on Friday night and lasting for 28 days, highlighted by a 10 p.m. statewide curfew. And teams continue to have issues even getting through the rest of the regular season before heading into any potential postseason action. Two of the top 10 teams in the country have been hit by COVID-19 this week; Texas’ coach, Shaka Smart , is self-isolating after a positive test and Michigan is in the midst of a two-week pause enforced by the state health department after positive tests on campus. According to one fan site’s daily research , 178 out of the 346 programs playing —  51.4 percent overall — have paused at least once since November 25. But the Blue Jays and Toronto FC in particular may have light at the end of the tunnel. The ATP Tour will resume action on August 14 with the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. After the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open in New York, the men’s tour will go to Europe for three clay-court events before the French Open starts September 27. Further events beyond the French Open are expected to be announced in mid-July. Thursday’s Game L.A. Chargers at Las Vegas: No fans were allowed “Irrespective of whether we have spectators, the outside world will come into the stadium, albeit it digitally,” said Christophe Dubi . “Do I prefer to have a full stadium with all of the shouting? Yes. But do we have a good response in case that’s not the fact? Absolutely.” “The decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” F1 said in a statement. “Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.” While many teams were able to withstand to a degree the decline in game day revenue because of the increase in TV rights — and those rights are still going up as shown by recent deals for the NFL and NHL — going from a consistent stadium revenue to zero can mess with any team’s bottom line. Negotiations between the league and players association have run into several roadblocks, most of them regarding player compensation and the collective bargaining agreement — although those concerns seem to be dissipating. Because of that, the league’s tentative plan to start the season on January 1 is more likely turning into a beginning date of January 13, reports ESPN , given the time that would be needed to test players before training camp and let them get up to speed without an increased risk of injuries. That would nix the idea of having an 82-game season with a target instead of anywhere from 52 games to 56 at the most. Schroeppel added the Chiefs’ ability to have full capacity at Arrowhead Stadium may also be adjusted should cases continue to rise in Missouri, where the seven-day rolling average for cases has more than doubled since July 1. The issues in hockey are also happening in , where the Washington Nationals’ season was delayed before it could even begin. Four players tested positive on Wednesday, postponing the team’s three-game series against the New York Mets that was scheduled to conclude on Monday. The Charleston Classic, Myrtle Beach Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off, ESPN Events Invitational , Paycom Wooden Legacy and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic had their fields announced. Participating teams for ESPN’s other events — Armed Forces Classic, Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Classic and PKI — will be announced in the coming weeks. One of the tournaments also announced a new title sponsor with Shriners Hospitals for Children signing a four-year agreement with the Charleston Classic. It is the first postponed game in the Southeastern Conference, which this year is only playing conference games to try and mitigate breakouts among teams. The Commodores only had 56 players active in a 41-7 rout to South Carolina; NCAA guidelines say a player who tests positive must sit for a minimum of 10 days and be symptom-free for three days prior to returning. The vaccination incentives go beyond fans. Leagues that have collective bargaining agreements with players are including incentives in many of their health and safety protocols to have players become vaccinated since, because of the various CBAs in leagues, any mandatory measures cannot be taken. While the NFL cannot mandate players get the vaccine, it has put forth mandates for many team employees who would ordinarily be around players on a regular basis again once the season starts in the fall. And much like the NBA, NHL and MLS, the NFL has let players know that the higher percentage of players on a given team that become vaccinated, that would mean modifying the ordinarily strict health and safety protocols. Some of the conferences have kept to normal scheduling practices this season, leading to some turnarounds that could be seen as questionable given the status of COVID-19 in the country — the ACC has Syracuse playing at home on Saturday, January 23 against Virginia Tech and then traveling to play 48 hours later at Virginia before another home game five days later against North Carolina State. But there have been a few mid-major conferences that have changed its traditional scheduling and gone to compressed weekends in an attempt to limit travel as much as possible and therefore lessen exposure — the Mountain West has teams playing on weekends only with one day between games and the America East has teams playing on consecutive days over weekends. Tokyo 2020 will provide an update on Games preparations to the IOC on Thursday, where more information may be forthcoming. The NFL Draft was supposed to be held last year in Las Vegas but had to go virtual instead. Whether this year’s draft will be held entirely in person in Cleveland has not been announced. Still, the decision by Krzyzewski highlighted what will be a crucial next few weeks for college basketball. Players on teams throughout the country have spent months in near-isolation, trying to get through the fall semester without catching the virus so that they could play games. For many of them, the chance to be able to take a week off and go home and see friends and families would be vital for mental health. “Everyone should focus on holding the event next year — we’re on the same page,” said Muto. “We discussed this with Mr. Bach and he’s saying it isn’t appropriate to think about cancelling or postponing again.” Thursday’s Game N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia: Up to 7,500 fans were allowed The relationship between Major League Soccer and Liga MX continues to grow as well, playing against each other regularly in the CONCACAF Champions League — an event won every year by Liga MX since its rebranding — as well as this year’s rescheduled All-Star Game in Los Angeles will be between the MLS All-Stars and a Liga MX All-Star team at Banc of California Stadium. The inconsistency of how the Big Ten organized the season was criticized by many but remember, the college football season is not organized by the NCAA. So while people were constantly wondering who was in charge, the answer was: nobody. Not because somebody didn’t want to be in charge, but because the FBS setup leaves no one in charge. To be fair, it made for some terrific off-field storylines — Clemson’s Dabo Swinney  “disrespecting” Ohio State in his coaches poll before losing to the Buckeyes in the CFP semifinals, multiple SEC coaches taking not-so-subtle jabs about the Buckeyes’ strength of schedule, Florida Coach Dan Mullen pushing his school to open the entire stadium to fans and then contracting COVID within days and numerous coaches consistently urging players to follow health protocols but showcasing some of the worst mask adherence in the country — but most of the spotlight this season was focused not on the field. While that key decision is looming, IOC officials said Wednesday they are proceeding with plans for Tokyo, including the possibility that the committee will need to import their own medical professionals to supplement those available in Japan if Japanese authorities say they need assistance. The nation’s medical community has been critical of releasing any professionals that are already taking care of Japanese residents, where COVID-19 rates in recent months have been on the rise. • The 2021 World Transplant Games, scheduled for May 29–June 5 in Houston, have been canceled. The announcement was made jointly by the Harris County—Houston Sports Authority and the . The 2021 Games would have been the first held in the United States in 41 years. The event was expected to draw more than 4,000 participants. The moves come as polls in Japan suggest waning support for the concept of proceeding with the Games. But the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 said the event will continue as planned under the restrictions being enforced. Lynn Holzman , the NCAA vice president of women’s basketball, said how the weight room controversy unfolded, in particular, “pulled the curtain back on some of the issues surrounding our sport” . “Women in sport and in many other aspects of our lives, we’ve been fighting uphill battles for years. In a lot of ways, this is no different. … This year, that was a miss. That was a communication, operational miss. There are other things for women in sport that are bigger systemic issues that I have devoted my career to, and there’s many others who have been fighting these battles. At the NCAA we are committed to supporting our women. Where there are those issues, we’re going to address them. I’m going to continue to fight these battles to make sure that happens.” Players who are not vaccinated, according to ESPN and The Athletic, will not be able to go anywhere on the road other than the hotel, practices or arenas for games. Even when at the hotel, players who are not vaccinated cannot use the bar, restaurant, gym or pool and must not allow anybody in their rooms. They must quarantine for seven days before training camp and undergo daily testing; during the season, unvaccinated players are “encouraged” not to eat or drink on team flights, go to bars or eat indoors with people outside their families. Instead, the NHL will still have an outdoor event — one that is unique in its idealism and potentially replicable across the league should this year’s event be a success. All involved in the event’s organization have been firm on one point: If the Summer Games are not held starting July 23 with the opening ceremony, they will be canceled completely especially with the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing scheduled to start in 13 months. And with that opening date in mind, another date to watch closely: March 25, when the torch relay is scheduled to begin in Japan with more than 10,000 participants. It was in late March last year that the Olympics were also postponed to this summer. Thursday’s Game Atlanta at Carolina: The Panthers allowed up to 5,240 fans in attendance “We are so pleased to be at this amazing stadium for the most celebrated event on the rodeo calendar,” said George Taylor , chief executive officer of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “We are committed to delivering a spectacular event for our fans and we are thrilled to be in Texas for it.” McCarthy said the Cowboys planned to practice Tuesday and Wednesday before Sunday’s preseason game against Jacksonville. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby , Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson , SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Swarbrick will make a report to the entire management committee about the future format at the CFP’s summer meeting. Should the management committee decide there is a model that is worth using, that model will be presented to the CFP board of managers. For the playoff to change entering the eighth season of a 12-year agreement, 11 presidents and chancellors would have to approve it. Sunday’s playoff game at the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the first postseason appearance for the Cleveland Browns since 2002 and a chance to win the franchise’s first playoff game since 1994. But Coach Kevin Stefanski and four of his assistants will be missing the game because of COVID-19 protocols, as well as seven starters, including star defensive back Denzel Ward . For its part, the International Olympic Committee has downplayed the public opinion polls, with IOC Spokesperson Mark Adams insisting last week “we listen but won’t be guided by public opinion. Everything is telling us that the Games can go ahead and will go ahead,” adding that the IOC and Games organizers have private polling numbers that show there is not the degree of negativity toward the event. Saturday’s Lake Tahoe game at the Edgewood Tahoe resort on the golf course’s 18 th fairway started at 12:12 p.m. local time under bright sun and was suspended after the first period when the ice conditions made it unsafe to continue, forcing an eight-hour suspension of play. The game restarted at 9 p.m. local time, with the Avalanche winning 3-2. Remember what was said days ago about this college football season being unlike any other? How each week would be a rollercoaster with games being canceled and schedules usually made a decade or more in advance being flipped around on a weekly basis as teams deal with COVID-19 outbreaks? “With the uncertainty surrounding competitions in 2020 and 2021, USATF provided domestic competitive opportunities … and encouraged Team USATF athletes to stay in the U.S. and train,” USA Track & Field confirmed in a statement to Agence France-Presse. As a result of the earlier withdrawal of Dallas and then Nashville on Thursday, MLS has reconfigured the groups into six groups, each consisting of four teams, as well as an update to the qualification for the Knockout Stage. The Chicago Fire will move from Group A to Group B in the tournament, joining San Jose, Seattle and Vancouver so that each of the six groups have four teams. After 16 days of group stage matches, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, which begins July 25. The normal working order remains with the AFC on CBS, NFC on Fox plus Sunday night games on NBC and Monday night games on ESPN, making the gigantic increase in rights fees even more impressive. While many observers have believed at some point there will be a major move by an online streamer such as Amazon or Facebook to get into sports media rights — and Amazon will have the Thursday night package exclusively starting in 2023 — that there are few outside bidders and the NFL not only demanded but received more than double the previous yearly average reinforces the league’s reputation as the most popular sports league in the country. The May 29 game between two teams from England’s Premier League, Manchester City and Chelsea, will be played at 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão in Porto after UEFA’s talks with the British government about playing the game at Wembley Stadium ended. Those talks came to a close once UEFA was unable to secure quarantine exemptions required for media and guests to fly into London. Rice University has had to shuffle its schedule around with three games disrupted because of “current conditions related to the infection rate in Houston and the need for highly reliable and very rapid testing results in the competitive athletics context forced a delay in a decision to move forward.” The Owls said a final decision on the start of practice “will be made later in September” and it will work with Conference USA on any adjustments. The backdrop to preparations for spring training is that the Los Angeles Times reported last month that MLB does not plan to mandate fans provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before attending games. A large part of the increase comes from the NFL having extra inventory; under the CBA with the players approved before the pandemic, the league negotiated the option to add a 17th game to the regular season schedule starting in 2021, something players long opposed but ultimately agreed to as part of getting 48 percent of the league’s revenue, up from 47 percent previously. “We will have to review the situation about the dignitaries and stakeholders,” Hashimoto admitted on Thursday of the opening ceremony, adding that the decision to not allow fans so close to the Opening Ceremony weighed on her. “We look forward to the day when intercollegiate athletics — which are such an important part of the fabric of our campus communities — will safely return in a manner and format we all know and appreciate,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a joint statement. All the while, teams are going ahead with plans to have fans in attendance. The policies have varied: the Pittsburgh Steelers will have up to 5,500 fans on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, the first time that the team has had fans in the stands. Two teams have announced home capacities for the rest of the season with the Denver Broncos hosting 5,700 fans and the Cleveland Browns hosting 12,000 fans. But there are teams holding off on attendance such as the Green Bay Packers, who said it will continue holding games without fans for now. What was planned to be a unique moment for the NASCAR Cup Series — a return to dirt track racing in the sport’s top series for the first time since 1970 — fell prey to the weather gods on Sunday and revealed the difficulty of planning spotlight events outdoors have in the best of situations. The Rose Bowl, always one of the biggest college football games of the season with its rich tradition and this year the site of a College Football Playoff semifinal game, will not have fans at the January 1 spotlight event in Pasadena, California. The Premier League announced that no players will be released to play for countries on England’s “red list” which also features several South American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. Nearly 60 players from 19 Premier League clubs were due to travel to 26 red-zone countries. Shortly after the Premier League’s statement, Spain’s La Liga announced a similar decision. There is plenty of news that the NHL would want to trumpet, of course. The league officially announced the remainder of its future broadcast packages have been sold — the secondary package was agreed to with Turner Sports on Monday, a seven-year deal that averages $225 million and means the end of NBC’s affiliation with the league, which started in 2005 and helped bring not only the Stanley Cup Final to network television but helped popularize the Winter Classic and the league’s successive outdoor events. The Broncos are the latest team to announce a slow integration of fans back into stadiums, although the majority of NFL teams will be closed venues for at least the first two weeks. “Even though the UK is reopening, the government has made it clear that this pandemic is still far from over,” the Premier League said.  “It is possible the safety measures for matches could be subject to change at short notice. Fans should continue to follow the latest public health guidance and guidance from their club. However, even in these uncertain times we are optimistic that by continuing to work together with fans, supporter groups, football stakeholders, national government and local authorities, everyone can enjoy full and vibrant stadiums while staying safe from COVID-19.” A spring training trip in the best of circumstances can be a wonderful experience. With the smaller stadiums, the intimate seating in most stadiums gives you a small-town feel for a major league sport. Yes, not many stars play the full game but to even see a big name closer than you ordinarily would for a few innings pitched, or two at-bats and maybe a home run, can be something to remember for years to come. Players must stay at approved hotels and will be required to undergo COVID testing, regardless of vaccination status. They will not be allowed to visit restaurants, bars or stores. While the players and those with them must adhere to the protocols, the tournament is being permitted to have up to 32,000 spectators per day. The tours then reunite — sort of — in Canada. The National Bank Open presented by Rogers has always flipped between two cities; this year starting August 7, the men will be in Toronto and the women in Montreal. The fate of the Canadian split-city stop this year had been in doubt but “Tennis Canada can confirm the option of hosting in the United States is no longer being considered as a potential alternative and the organization is focused solely on hosting the tournaments in Canada,” the organization said. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the USTA and the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, which had emerged as our most likely destination in the United States, for their support in helping us explore this potential option.” One of the big early surprises during the pandemic was the fan response to a virtual NFL draft with sights as unique as the mega-yacht of Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones , the dog for Patriots coach Bill Belichick and most surprisingly of all, the near-universal positive reviews for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hosting turn from the basement of his house. The NBA made $1.46 billion in sponsorship revenue in the 2020-21 regular season, according to sports partnerships consultancy firm IEG — a six percent year-over-year increase. But that type of increase, while notable, does not wipe out the 10 percent drop in revenue during the pandemic-affected 2019–2020 season . The 2020–2021 season opens on December 22 with teams scheduled to play 72 games each. With the NBA Finals finishing in the bubble in mid-October, it will be the shortest turnaround in modern NBA history from one season to another. That means the league will not only face the issue of having the season organized in a safe and healthy fashion but also the ability of players to get enough rest and recovery after an abbreviated summer. The proposal was made by a subcommittee made up of Bowlsby, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey , Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. The CFP’s current TV deal has five years still to run with ESPN at an average of $475 million per year. By tripling the inventory in both teams and games, as well as increasing the amount of interest, the CFP would get a gigantic increase in the TV rights whether from ESPN or another network. And for the collegiate sports landscape, especially in the big-budget world of college football where pandemic-caused deficits have soared, any chance to guarantee a massive rise in future income is reason enough to make a change. Earlier this week, Gavitt said that the NCAA will allow a team to continue playing in Indianapolis as long as it has five healthy players. “We wrestled with contingencies and thought it was fairest for a team that earned its way, that even if it was compromised, they should have the opportunity to play rather than be replaced,” he said. “The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, and fans from all over the world converge in Daytona Beach to be a part of motorsport’s biggest day,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile . “While we won’t be able to have a capacity crowd here in February, we are excited that we can host the Daytona 500 with those in attendance, as well as for the millions who will tune in live on Fox.” The Southeastern Conference has released guidelines for schools in the expectation that they will be having fans at games this season — although the league was careful to say that the rules are “pending future decisions related to the allowance of fans to attend games as the Conference continues to monitor developments around the COVID-19 virus.” The medical community continues to criticize the IOC’s approach, which has seemed to be “trust us, everything will be fine” without much in the way of specific details. Japan’s most senior medical adviser, Shigeru Omi , told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that organizers should explain to the public why the Games are going ahead and “it’s not normal to hold the Olympic Games in a situation like this.” “If we can’t travel in Canada, either as among the provinces or from the U.S. to Canada and back, we’ll make whatever adjustments we have to do to get the playoffs completed,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday . The IndyCar Series and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course agreed to postpone The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio scheduled for August 7–9 until a date to be determined in September or October. The decision was made through communication with local health officials given the current environment. A long-awaited decision on the status of having Japanese fans at the rescheduled 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo may be finally coming if reports from the host country prove to be true. “If it gets to point where you don’t have enough players to participate, that decision will be made by the school with the conference office,” Scott said. “One scenario we’re thinking about is whether there will be a buffer of couple of weeks at the end of the season in case games need to be made up. In other words, we could start on time — but there could be a spike during the season, a second wave as people are describing it. There could be an issue that a particular team has that could cause a game to be rescheduled. There’s a lot of scenario planning going on in that regard.” “I got to talk to my team about this and see how they feel about it,” Jackson said about getting vaccinated. “Keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there. … I feel it’s a personal decision. I’m just going to keep my feelings to my family and myself. I’m focused on getting better right now. I can’t dwell on that right now … how everybody else feels. Just trying to get back to the right routine.” The tournament will be hosted by Ball State University, Butler University, the Horizon League, Indiana University, IUPUI and Purdue University. The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility with multiple courts set up inside the venue. All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues. “At the beginning I soaked it in while I could,” Betts said, then adding “after that I tuned it out and took care of business. I’m used to playing in front of big crowds.” In another attempt to try and do a more targeted job at contact tracing, the Pac-12 announced it will partner with KINEXON SafeZone technology within its football and men’s and women’s basketball programs. Players, coaches and staffers during all team activities and games will use small lightweight wearables called “SafeTags” to accurately measure the distance and duration between users so chains of infection can be identified immediately and those at risk can be sent into quarantine in real-time, limiting the possibility of large outbreaks. The SafeTags can also be used to enforce physical distancing protocols by flashing a red warning light when certain people are within six feet of each other. All minor league seasons are scheduled to end September 19, except for in the Triple-A West, which will end September 21. There are three new affiliates: the St. Paul Saints at Triple-A for Minnesota, the Sugar Land Skeeters at Triple-A for Houston, and the Somerset Patriots at Double-A for the New York Yankees. “Protecting the health and safety of participants and fans during NCAA championships remains the NCAA’s priority,” the organization said in a statement Tuesday evening . “In preparation for the 2021 Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, the National Invitation Tournament , as well as all other championships, the NCAA has monitored ongoing COVID-19 developments in all states since the onset of the pandemic. We will continue to work closely with local medical authorities, the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, and CDC guidelines to determine the appropriate health and safety protocols for our events.” While Goodell and the NFL have taken pains to say the season is not over and they want to get through Sunday’s game before focusing on the offseason, it is unavoidable that future topics would come up. Goodell was non-committal about how fans could return in full-capacity stadiums in the fall depending on vaccinations cross the country; it was reported on Friday that he has told President Biden that each of the league’s 32 teams “ will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public ” in the offseason. The NBA, for its part, has proposed strict protocols for unvaccinated players in a memo to the NBPA, according to ESPN on Thursday morning . Within the memo is a proposal for unvaccinated players to be separated from their teammates in the locker room as well has having separate areas for eating, flying and taking buses on road trips. Unvaccinated players would have to be tested the morning of practices and games while vaccinated players would only be tested if they have symptoms or are exposed to someone who has tested positive. ESPN also reported that in the proposal, an unvaccinated player deemed a close contact would have to quarantine for seven days but vaccinated players would not quarantine as long as they do not test positive. But the grandest slam of all, Wimbledon, was noticeably absent. One of the biggest early events in the world to become canceled, the All England Lawn Tennis Club got perhaps as much attention for the fact that it had purchased pandemic insurance years ago for April’s announcement of the event’s cancellation itself, its first since World War II. The venue, which can hold more than 300,000 people has held races, including the Indy 500, during the pandemic but has yet to be given the OK for spectators. Fans at the race will be limited to two zones, with 5,000 spectators in each. Both schools and the College Football Playoff pushed back against those reports, with Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith telling Yahoo Sports “we are on track to play” while CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock told ESPN “there are no changes,” both statements that were backed up by Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne on Twitter. “I think we are prepared for isolated cases,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said before the season. “In fact, based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, based on watching other leagues operating outside the bubble, unfortunately it seems somewhat inevitable. But we’re prepared for all contingencies.” “While I am disappointed and hate to be away from the program, Baylor women’s basketball is in good hands with our coaches and support staff,” Mulkey said. “The safety of our student-athletes is paramount and will take precedent over any basketball activity during this pandemic.” If games are played, the university will require physical distancing and mandatory face masks or coverings with limited concessions available. Ohio State will prohibit tailgating and for fans who have paid for season tickets, the university will offer to accommodate as many season ticket holders as possible, which will require limiting the quantity of season tickets for each ticket holder. “This season it really took all of us to get through this,” Smith said. “… We’re a labor union and if we have to mix it up, we have to mix it up. But this year across the businesses in the country, this has been one of the best examples of labor and management working together to do something that we couldn’t do alone.” “We’ve looked at disinfection very differently than we ever have in the past,” said Doug Behar , senior vice president of stadium operations for the Yankees. “We treated Yankee Stadium like a hospital started to think about what terminal cleaning meant and started to do that. We took biological swabs of surfaces and how do we go about correctly attacking those pathogens in a way that is safe for our housekeeping staff.” • Epic Games has canceled the 2020 Fortnite World Cup , announcing that its remaining events for 2020 will be hosted online while another of the biggest gaming events in the world, EVO 2020 , has been switched to online-only instead of being in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas starting July 31. Major League Soccer announced that FC Dallas have been withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida, due to 10 players and one member of the technical staff confirmed positive for COVID-19. Each of the tests either occurred upon the club’s arrival or within a few days of arrival. One outstanding issue about the November 25 starting date will be what happens to many early-season tournaments that have been scheduled to start before Thanksgiving. Multiple reports between ESPN and CBS Sports have detailed that for tournaments scheduled before the new start date would be turned into bubble events, including the possibility of as many as eight scheduled tournaments being held simultaneously in Orlando, Florida, at the same site where the NBA bubble is currently ongoing at the ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports. This is the first NCAA game declared a no-contest due to COVID-19 issues. The NCAA made Tuesday night its deadline for replacement teams to enter the field. The tournament said depending on COVID-19 conditions at the time of the tournament, additional testing as well as mask mandates in certain seating areas may be required by the Riverside County health department and the state of California. Guidelines for players are governed by the WTA and ATP Tours. A UK Athletics investigation was launched Tuesday after Butchart on a podcast said “You have to get a COVID test to get into the UK, so you went to a place to get a PCR test before 48 hours – and I’m with check-in and I don’t have my PCR test back. So you have to quickly, like, get an old PCR test, go on to Instagram … scribble out the time and the date, change the time and the date, and change it so you can get into the country. Obviously COVID is huge but it’s quite annoying. Everybody has faked PCR tests, I’m sure, to try and go somewhere, because it’s just so hard.” The NFL is threatening players with individual discipline if they do not comply. Along with players wearing masks on the sidelines, coaches who call plays will no longer have the option to wear only a face shield and must wear a face mask or double-layered gaiter in addition to the face shield. The college basketball season in recent years has had enough trouble getting national attention when it starts a season. Between the end of college football and the NFL, while there can be several high-profile matchups, the sport itself has seen its non-conference play traditionally shuttled to the inside pages of the newspapers and last part of the highlights show. One of the many sports that spent its summer playing in a bubble environment, the National Hockey League resumed its 2019–2020 season in two Canadian cities and completed its season through the Stanley Cup Final without a single positive test from the 28 teams that competed, a phenomenal achievement given the stretch of time involved from July 25 through September 25. One of the major storylines for the series has been COVID-19 with Canadiens Coach Dominique Ducharme testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday and Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon testing positive on Sunday. During Friday’s Game 3, cameras showed McCrimmon not wearing a mask while watching from a suite alongside team president George McPhee . “At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday in a statement. “We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.” “The last 18 months have taught us — both on and off the pitch — how integral fans are to the fabric of the game,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said. “This tournament has been a beacon of hope to reassure people that we are returning to a more normal way of life and this is a further step along that road.” The uneven guidelines across college basketball was magnified by a wild 24 hours for No. 1 Gonzaga at the Fort Myers Tip-Off. After the Zags beat No. 6 Kansas on Thursday, the team tweeted out a video of the team locker room as players and staff — none wearing masks — celebrated Coach Mark Few’s 600 th career win. The next day, Gonzaga beat Auburn while missing two players, one of whom had tested positive for the coronavirus. The celebration video was deleted the next day while questions were asked about how the team was able to play without being a shutdown. Then there were comments by Washington defensive end Montez Sweat , who said “I probably won’t get vaccinated until I get more facts and that stuff. I’m not a fan of it at all,” before confusing thousands by adding “I haven’t caught COVID yet so I don’t see me treating COVID until I actually get COVID.” Major League Soccer has postponed three matches in the space of 24 hours amid an escalating number of positive coronavirus tests throughout the league, including the fourth consecutive match for the Colorado Rapids. “I’m most proud that we collectively came together as a community and pulled this off,” said Silver before Game 1 between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. “By that I mean all of the stakeholders. The players, the team governors, 30 teams — not just 22 teams — the support we received from our fans.” Clearly, the attention being on COVID-19 test results rather than the on-field matchups is the last thing that college football needs. At first glance, it would seem to be a matchup that could bring in record television ratings; Alabama and Ohio State, two national names with deep traditions and fan bases that extend beyond their regions and make them nationally recognizable. Plus, both teams are coming off noteworthy performances with Alabama beating Notre Dame in a relocated Rose Bowl at Arlington, Texas, while Ohio State upsetting Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Along with photos of the infamous weight room facilities for the women’s players in San Antonio, there was also issues with gift bags for the two tournaments, food options and the type of COVID-19 testing. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the NCAA executives overseeing women’s basketball requested to use the famous March Madness brand in recent years and were rebuffed by the NCAA. There will still be football in the spring; Football Championship Subdivision programs plan to kick off in late February with an FCS title game scheduled for mid-May in Frisco, Texas. And now that the CFP title game is over, Hard Rock Stadium will revert from football to its new purpose for the coming weeks: The state of Florida began offering vaccines last week to health care workers and those 65 and over at the home of the Miami Dolphins. Vaccination and testing operations closed early Monday so the site could prepare for the game. As it says in the song … the ball is tipped. Brian Harman told ESPN he considered skipping this week’s major due to the restrictions before reconsidering. This week’s protocols are in contrast to the PGA Tour, which told players that starting July 22 it will not require COVID testing for players and that vaccinated individuals will not have to undergo contact tracing. “After consultation with PGA Tour medical advisors, that due to the high rate of vaccination among all constituents on the PGA Tour, as well as other positively trending factors across the country, testing for COVID-19 will no longer be required as a condition of competition beginning with the 3M Open,” PGA Tour Senior Vice President Tyler Dennis wrote in a memo to players according to ESPN . If the recent talk surrounding the Games had not drawn enough attention, the debate broke into even broader view when the Times of London on late Thursday published a story claiming t he Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus, adding that the organizers’ focus was going to shift toward securing the Games for the city in 2032. The story — based on one anonymous source — spread like wildfire to the point that the USOPC released a statement on Twitter: “ Any official communication on the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will come from the IOC, Tokyo Organizing Committee and the Japanese government. We have not received any information suggesting the Games will not happen as planned, and our focus remains on the health and preparedness of Team USA athletes ahead of the Games this summer.” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that up to four players are sidelined with COVID-19. The team’s sports medicine director, Ron Courson, was not with the program during Saturday’s win because he tested positive as well. “As time goes on and the vaccine becomes more readily available, we certainly will be ready to be supportive of our athletes and the rest of the delegation as we think about going abroad,” she said. The NFL has told those who are classified as Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees of teams that they must be vaccinated or they cannot interact with players. Thursday’s memo says vaccinated players or staff who test positive and are asymptomatic can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart. Non-vaccinated players or staffers who are positive must isolate for 10 days. “It is remarkable,” Goodell said of SoFi Stadium during Thursday’s State of the League address. “Not just the facility and stadium itself but the surrounding area. We think that stadium is going to set a new standard in the world. I don’t know what the environment is going to be for that; it’s to be seen. We hope it will be filled with fans not just in the stadium but around the stadium and that we’ll be back to a more normal cadence.” In total, organizers will be selling 118,611 tickets compared to 15,000 last year when the tournament was delayed to September. A night session will be introduced for 10 days thanks to a retractable roof on center court with floodlights — but those matches will be held without fans because of the night curfew at 9 p.m. “That’s like me asking you if you’ve had a vasectomy,” said Aric Almirola when asked last weekend about his vaccination status. Added Martin Truex Jr .: “There’s no real facts that say vaccinating or unvaccinated is really any different these days. I’m really happy that they haven’t went down the mandatory road because I don’t think that’s fair from any perspective at all.” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said during a Monday conference call that the USOPC is approximately six weeks from finalizing a vaccine plan for its Tokyo-bound delegation. The United States will send up to 600 athletes to Tokyo next summer and hundreds more in support staff and coaches. IOC President Thomas Bach said this month the IOC would not require the vaccine of its athletes but would encourage immunization. The first seven weeks of the season had already been released with the Australian Open, although delayed, still on the calendar. Qualifying for the first Grand Slam of the season will take place in Doha, Qatar, from January 10–13 before all players and support staff will travel to Melbourne for a 14-day quarantine period from January 15–31 in accordance with requirements of Australian public health and immigration authorities. The controlled environment will enable allow players to prepare for a 12-team ATP Cup in Melbourne, played alongside the relocated Adelaide International, as well as an additional ATP tournament in Melbourne, before the Australian Open starts February 8. Should the tours make it through the next few weeks without any major outbreaks before the Miami Open, players will be performing in front of fans on hand. The event’s organizers said a limited number of fans will be allowed on the grounds; the Miami Herald reported the event is planning to allow approximately 15 percent of the Grandstand Court capacity, or roughly 750 fans per session. While the Gold Cup dealt with COVID-related issues even before the tournament got underway, one feature of this year’s event is all of the games are being held in relatively concentrated areas of the country, specifically Texas and Florida. Part of that is because when the venues were announced, those were the states that were the most open in regard to fan capacity at games. One year to the day that the NBA suspended operations and sent shockwaves throughout the sports world that touched every organization at every level, the NBA’s second half fully gets underway with 11 games. COVID-19 has not left the league by any means; it has remained part of the discussion from the bubble in Orlando last summer to the present day, with two games tipping off on Wednesday as the Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs, in particular, have multiple games to make up from the first half after outbreaks on both teams.
NASCAR’s announcement comes after another Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies, announced on Wednesday that it will have 100 percent capacity at home games by the end of June. Only seven MLB teams have yet to announce when it will have full capacity this season: the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, who are playing this season in Buffalo, New York, because of cross-border travel restrictions. One more hockey-related note: While the NHL has not had cross-border games this season, Canada was planning to host the women’s world hockey championships in Nova Scotia starting May 6. But the event was canceled abruptly on Wednesday over safety risks associated with COVID-19. There were 13 preseason games over the weekend in the NFL and other than the Chicago Bears, who drew 33,069 at Soldier Field for its game against the Miami Dolphins, every game had a minimum of 47,000 fans on hand — including seven games that had announced crowds of 64,866 or higher. The SDCCU Holiday Bowl announced recently that for the first time since 1978, it will not be played. Between the financial considerations given to not having a capacity crowd on hand for the game as well as ancillary events during the bowl week, the decision was not an easy one but had to be made. The San Diego State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has said the game’s annual average economic impact for the region the past decade is $30.96 million. The Rapids closed their training facility and have not trained since September 24, when the first cases of COVID were confirmed.  All players and staff with confirmed cases have entered self-isolation; those who have continued to receive negative results have remained in self-quarantine while following MLS health and safety protocols. DreamHack earlier postponed events in Dallas and Montreal to 2021. The new dates for the postponed events will be revealed at a later date. “The health and safety of our students is our top priority, and ultimately that concern guided our decision-making process over the past few months as we explored every option regarding the 2020 football season,” said Andy Feinstein , president of the University of Northern Colorado and chair of the Big Sky Presidents’ Council. “We recognize just how meaningful these opportunities are to the student-athletes, coaches, and staff throughout our conference, and empathize that they won’t be able to compete this fall for a Big Sky championship. We are eager to provide our football programs with that opportunity in the spring when it’s hopefully safer to be able to do so.” Organizers had planned to have up to 30,000 spectators daily at Melbourne Park for the event. The buildup to the Australian Open has been marked by attention paid to the strict quarantine protocols in which everyone must have a mandatory 14-day quarantine during which players were tested every day and weren’t allowed to leave their hotels without a negative result. The 12 schools in the conference are James Madison, Albany, Villanova, New Hampshire, Towson, Maine, Elon, Richmond, Delaware, William & Mary, Stony Brook and Rhode Island. The size of the field was determined after discussions with the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City officials. The decision by the Duke women’s program was a few days after the first non-Ivy League men’s team announced that it would be shutting down the season. Chicago State, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, announced before Christmas that it would be suspending its men’s program for the remainder of the season . The Cougars made the decision after starting the season 0-9, none of the games played at home, before postponing a December 22 game at Iowa State because of not having enough players available to participate. “We tinkered with various models and looked at several cities — some may not know that we looked at them, but we looked a several cities,” Scott said. The first detail to determine was the amount of hotel rooms needed, since each team would be on individual floors. The NCAA also wanted to find a setup where they could control all the means of transportation, whether walking around to areas or busing to nearby venues. There was also the need for practice areas and meeting rooms for players. Given the positive response to last year’s event, the NFL will continue to have some of the virtual elements in this weekend’s event. Teams will be allowed to have draft rooms at their respective facilities; the number of people in a room and some of the health and safety protocols depend on the vaccination rates of those participating. The AHL will have 28 teams this season with the Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield Thunderbirds opting out ahead of a return in 2021–2022. Four other teams will have a one-season relocation — the Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, New Jersey; the Ontario Reign will play in El Segundo, California; the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, Massachusetts; and the San Diego Gulls will play in Irvine, California. “At this point in time we’re planning on having a two-week bubble, where the players will be able to move freely between the hotel and the courts,” Tiley said at a TV event. “They’re protected, they’re kept safe among themselves and safe from the community as well. And after those two weeks, they’ll come out and be able to compete in the Australian Open in front of crowds.” Sunday’s Games Dallas at Washington: No fans will be in the stadium Buffalo at N.Y. Jets: No fans will be in the stadium Carolina at New Orleans: Up to 3,000 fans will be allowed Green Bay at Houston: Up to 13,000 fans will be allowed Cleveland at Cincinnati: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed Pittsburgh at Tennessee: Up to 8,000-plus fans will be allowed Detroit at Atlanta: A limited number of fans will be allowed Tampa Bay at Las Vegas: No fans will be in the stadium San Francisco at New England: No fans will be in the stadium Jacksonville at L.A. Chargers: No fans will be in the stadium Kansas City at Denver: Up to 5,700 fans will be allowed Seattle at Arizona: Up to 1,200 fans will be allowed The issue of if a team has an outbreak of COVID-19 and how that would affect the schedule has not been determined just yet, Scott said, but they are being discussed. With 32 days to go until the Opening Ceremony on July 23, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo 2020 and the governments of Tokyo and Japan announced Monday that venues will be allowed to be filled to 50 percent capacity, or 10,000 spectators, whichever is smaller. “We have hope that we want as many spectators as possible to see the Games if the situation so allows,” she said. The Winter Classic will feature the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at Target Field in Minneapolis on Jan. 1, 2022 and the Stadium Series will feature the Nashville Predators and Lightning at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Of the 32 NFL teams so far, none has said anything other than promising news toward having full capacity. Some are in states where restrictions have already been lifted such as Florida and Georgia, while places that did not have fans all season such as MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home for the Jets and Giants, have received positive responses at this point. There are going to be caveats across the country, of course, such as Buffalo, New York, where Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has said Bills fans will need proof of vaccination to attend games this fall. Georgia Senior Deputy Athletic Director Josh Brooks told local media that more staffing and better enforcement in the lower north sections would be enforced to remind fans to stay in their assigned areas while students will be funneled to two other areas in the stadium. “Now the most important thing to me is obviously to correct those things that happened in San Antonio — and we’re dealing with that and I think very effectively — but also we need to use it as a pivot point, as an inflection point to say what do we need to do better?” he said. “How do we make up for those shortcomings from this day going on and create the kind of gender equity that we all talk about, I talk about, everybody talks about, but make sure that it’s a reality, not just language?” “After extensive conversations about holding a Men’s National Team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” said U.S. Men’s National Team General Manager Brian McBride . “We appreciate the incredible amount of work our staff did and the discussions we had with Major League Soccer to try and address concerns and find solutions. While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.” Even getting to this point was not easy for MLB. The league and players union had bitter negotiations throughout the spring and into early summer before a shortened season even began. Within weeks of the rescheduled Opening Day on July 23, the Miami Marlins had a sustained outbreak of coronavirus — followed by an outbreak on the St. Louis Cardinals, although only two of the 45 MLB games postponed for COVID-related reasons were not eventually made up. The idea could win support if taken to a vote of FIFA’s 211 members — that is how the men’s World Cup was expanded from 32 to 48 teams starting with the 2026 event in North America, which will assuredly mean hundreds of millions more in revenue but likely be not nearly as competitive as tournament’s past. Similarly, the Women’s World Cup will expand to 32 from 24 teams when it is co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023 — while FIFA promoted the decision as giving more opportunities to female players, they did not deny that financial motivations were also front of mind. The Canadian division with seven teams will be the only division that does not have eight teams. Plans are to have the teams play in their home country but it has not been made official yet because of local province regulations throughout the country. In the U.S., the San Jose Sharks will have its training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the home of the Arizona Coyotes because of Santa Clara County health regulations. One thing can be sure: Between women’s sports leaders throughout the country and in the halls of Congress, they will make sure that his words are followed by actions. “The health and safety of the players, volunteers and the Eagle River community is of utmost importance during these unprecedented times,” said Ashley Bevan , USA Hockey’s senior director of adult hockey. “Reaching this decision with our partners was extremely difficult, but we jointly believe it’s the right thing to do and we look forward to the 2022 USA Hockey/Labatt Blue Pond Hockey National Championships.” No final decision has been made on the topic, which was raised on if the government would require vaccine passports to be introduced for any event that has a capacity of 20,000 people or more. The Australian Open this year knew that it would have to take on many of the U.S. Open’s protocols — and then some. Given the country’s extremely strict protocols in fighting coronavirus, which many would also point out has made Australia one of the few countries in the world successful in preventing widespread outbreaks, the Australian Open organizers got players to agree to a series of moves that would ensure the event could be held smoothly and without the risk of infection and contact tracing issues that could mar any event in which players and coaches from around the world are meeting. The organization said on Friday that exact capacity percentages will vary by site, depending on state and local health mandates. Winter championship COVID-19 testing protocols will remain in place throughout the remaining spring championships. The updated policy will begin April 28 at the Division I Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championship in Cary, North Carolina, and May 1 with Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal games held at campus sites. Overall, more than 9,000 COVID infections were linked to Euro 2020 games monitored for the government’s mass events test scheme and while the report’s authors did not describe it as such, many newspapers in England pointed out those numbers amount to the tournament having been a superspreader event. But the biggest reason for the proposal is simple: More money. COTA Founding Partner Bobby Epstein called the cancellation “prudent, but painful. After a sold-out 2019, advance ticket sales deposits were up nearly 250 percent over the prior year, and our staff was preparing for our biggest event ever.” Also on the NHL’s agenda is a potential return to the Olympic Winter Games after opting not to have players participate in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Daly said talks about the 2022 Games in Beijing are on hold as the IOC deals with more pressing matters around the rescheduled Summer Games in Tokyo this year. But he said the league intends to be back in dialogue soon with the IIHF, the sport’s international federation, for consideration of NHL participation in China. “On our side of the ocean, we and the players association have been in communication and are collaborating on a list of things we need to be satisfied with for Olympic participation to be possible in Beijing,” he said. Multiple states in the Northeast have been active already in planning for winter restrictions. In Rhode Island, Governor Gina M. Raimondo had already tightened restrictions including a ban of spectators at youth sports events and the closing of hockey rinks and indoor sport facilities, while out-of-state travel to tournaments has been banned — a move that New Jersey followed suit on Tuesday. After the Boston Globe reported that new infections in the state are tied to youth hockey events, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a recommendation to not conduct any postseason tournaments at the end of the 2020-21 winter season — if there is a winter season at all. The Connecticut Department of Public Health released youth sports guidance that recommends high-risk sports such as football, lacrosse and wrestling avoid indoor and outdoor team practices and in-state games or contests between two or more teams. Social media was alive with images of fans not wearing masks from the ESPN broadcast. While the SEC’s fan health and safety fan guidelines include “face coverings shall be required as a condition of all guest ingress, egress, and movement throughout the stadium,” because that policy does not extend to those in seating areas, face coverings are not required for those in their seats by Georgia. The four venues in Indianapolis will host the remainder of the championship, including second-round games Sunday and Monday, March 21 and 22. The Sweet 16 will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, with each of the eight games getting its own television window. The Elite Eight will take place in prime time Monday and Tuesday, March 29 and 30, and the Final Four is scheduled for Saturday and Monday, April 3 and 5, at Lucas Oil Stadium. The league made the move official around 6:44 p.m. ET, saying that the game will be played at 3:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday and broadcast on NBC. The league will also move both the Steelers’ and Ravens’ games for Week 13 back; the Steelers will play the Washington Football Team at 5 p.m. ET on December 7, making it a doubleheader for Monday Night Football, and the Ravens will play the Cowboys at 8:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, December 8. The tournament’s semifinals and finals will have the return of fans after a five-day lockdown in the state of Victoria after a rise in COVID-19 cases. The exact number of fans is to be determined; the tournament had earlier been capped at 30,000 fans per day. The situation has put the Open organizers into damage control in multiple forms. Even before players began arriving, there was disappointment throughout parts of Australia that players would even be allowed outside during quarantine for any amount of time especially with how regular Australians had lived their lives for months. In a four-month span in 2020, residents were only allowed outside for up to two hours per day, which is why Australia still has one of the lowest per capita rates of infection among large countries in the world. “Players were told in NBPA meetings that having a condensed 72-game schedule that ended before the Olympics could recoup as much as a billion dollars more in revenue than other suggested structures. It was always a driving point for NBA team owners to get back at home, and hopefully fill their home arenas and drive up the ticket sales that drive up the bottom line.” Not since the 2004 Olympic Summer Games were in Athens, Greece — with preparations still happening seemingly until the start of the Opening Ceremony — has the International Olympic Committee endured as rough a run-up to their event as for the upcoming Games in Tokyo. In anticipation of having fans in attendance, MLB released guidelines for spring training games that will also be in effect for the regular season including a requirement for facial coverings while inside the ballpark; fans being seated in pods six feet apart; and ballpark entrances opened on a scheduled basis. Per state health guidelines, the New York Yankees and New York Mets are requiring a PCR or antigen COVID-19 test with negative results or proof of COVID-19 vaccination for fans to attend games. Aside from the Rangers’ Opening Day sellout plans, the Houston Astros will have 50 percent capacity, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies both plan to have 40 percent capacity or more at home games while the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals have the smallest planned percentage of capacity at 12 percent. In New Orleans, meanwhile, community leaders are hoping that the Superdome will be at full capacity for Saints games but also admit that it depends on the percentage of those who are vaccinated and therefore put the region close to herd immunity. The AHL’s move comes after the ECHL earlier released its planned schedule in a unique format. For 13 teams in the ECHL, the season will be 72 games starting December 11, 2020. The other teams in the league will have a 62-game season that starts on January 15 while the Atlanta Gladiators will take a voluntary suspension for the 2020–2021 season. Under the split-season plan, the league standings will be based on winning percentage and the postseason format will be based on the eligible competing teams in the regular season. became the latest Power 5 league to announce its plans for the fall sports season, with football going to a modified schedule of 10 conference games plus one marquee non-conference game that will be determined at later dates and Notre Dame competing as a league member for this season only. Football and fall Olympic sports will begin competition the week of September 7–12 “if public health guidance allows,” the league said in a statement. While the sight of a crowd surrounding the green at the 72nd hole of a major is tradition at the British Open, it’s not typically seen at majors held in the United States. But given the sheer surprise that was Mickelson’s win and the seemingly pent-up excitement at being in person at sports again, security allowed the crowd on the court as thousands — the PGA of America said it limited tickets to 10,000 — turned one of the more staid atmospheres in sports into a giant screaming, glorious mass of humanity. The other event is the Brickyard 400, scheduled for August 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. The track hosted 135,000 for this past weekend’s Indianapolis 500 but has not announced its procedures or admittance for its annual NASCAR weekend yet. The College Football Playoff traditionally is one of the most anticipated events in the college sports calendar. Four of the best teams in college football face off during the holidays. Fans don’t know who the four teams that will be until the conference title games are completed, but they usually always know where the semifinal games will be. Before the tournament started, two players had to be removed from Indianapolis because of positive tests: De’Vion Harmon , Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer, and Georgia Tech’s Moses Wright , the ACC Player of the Year. Six officials got sent home before the tourney and one, Roger Ayers , is home fighting against serious effects of the virus. While the fans are allowed in limited numbers to games in Montreal, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is moving forward with plans for its November 15 induction celebration for both the 2020 and 2021 classes. There is no mention of restricted fan attendance at the event other than ticket information available at Ken Holland, Marian Hossa, Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre and Doug Wilson will be inducted as a standalone class given the cancellation of the 2020 Induction Celebration and the Board’s decision to forego nomination and election proceedings in 2021 as a result of the pandemic. Another NHL team has announced that fans will have to show proof of vaccination to attend games for the 2021—2022 season. Tokyo’s organizers, the International Olympic Committee and others are expected to meet Thursday — the day that International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach arrives in Tokyo — and announce new restrictions because of the coronavirus situation. On Saturday the capital reported 716 new cases, the highest in five weeks. Let me put it on Twitter too cause this needs the attention March 19, 2021 All guests will be screened in their vehicles with contactless temperature checks before entering the parking areas, and only essential racing personnel will have access to the paddock. A PPE kit that includes a face mask as well as hand sanitizer will be provided to each guest upon arrival. The race weekend will feature two full points races for the IndyCar Series July 11 and 12. All active-duty first responders including law enforcement, fire, paramedics and emergency medical technicians will be admitted free of charge by showing valid identification. “When you can’t train, you get soft-tissue injuries,” an athletic training official told ESPN. “It’s a known fact.” Scott was interviewed by Bonnie Bernstein during the webinar event “Cynopsis: The Great Sports Disruption.” When it comes to college football, “if we want a full season and a playoff at the end, we all have to agree that we’re going to start the season together,” Scott said. “It’s going to require a huge level of collaboration.” But as the college basketball season is officially allowed to start in less than a month, there appears to be the regular ol’ chaos that seemingly comes with any major college sporting event. With many programs not having a schedule yet and with many others not even sure if the games they have scheduled will tip off, the amount of work still seems massive — and that’s before you think about the NCAA Tournament’s return in March. World Athletics President Sebastian Coe   told CNN Sport this week  that “should we have the Games? Yes, we should. Can we have them safely and secure? I believe we can,” adding the restrictions that will be in place for those competing would ensure a safe staging of the event. “Both committees have had considerable discussion around the topic of conference championships and the value of participation,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Ultimately, the committees believe the authority on conference championships should reflect current policy, which leaves decision-making at the conference and institutional level. However, if a conference elects to hold a tournament and have that champion represent the league as its AQ, then the committees encourage full participation of all teams that qualify for a conference championship and are eligible for the NCAA tournament.” Prior to the scheduled Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 9, the series will have another points race the day before. WWTR in St. Louis, Missouri, will have a doubleheader event on August 29–30 and the IMS race course will have events on October 2–3. One of the biggest early-season tournaments, the Maui Invitational, will be held in Asheville, North Carolina, instead with a change of location of about 4,500 miles. Even without fans, the new location will be a boost for two of the tournament’s teams — North Carolina and Davidson. The other teams in the event are Alabama, Indiana, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV with all teams, tournament staff and media in a bubble environment. The financial crunch is even more magnified in minor league sports, where ticket revenues are the main driver for teams to survive. Not having the ability to have fans in attendance could put franchises on the brink. The NFL, in fact, let clubs know that fully vaccinated players and tiered staff members will no longer have to wear masks at club facilities. The league already told teams and the players union in April that fully vaccinated individuals would only be required to test on a weekly basis rather than daily. The NHRA also previously postponed the Virginia Nationals at Richmond, Virginia, which was scheduled for June 4–6. At least one Premier League team has already announced that fans must either be fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID test. Chelsea FC, the reigning Champions League winners, made the announcement this week. Fans will either have to be 14 days out from their second COVID shot or have tested negative for the virus within 48 hours of kickoff. When it comes to the games itself, fourteen teams have not had fans at home games this season and for several teams that have had a restricted number of fans in attendance, some have reversed course in the past month and closed up stadiums. Moving to a single-site NCAA Tournament will be a boost for Indianapolis as a destination — and the city may end up with more than just March Madness. The ability to be in the city right away before the NCAA event is why CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported that the Big Ten may move its conference tournament, scheduled to be held in Chicago, to Indianapolis because of the convenience for the teams involved. The Big Ten typically has its championship game on the afternoon of Selection Sunday, so it could make sense for the league to make sure that whatever team wins the tournament is right in Indianapolis and in a controlled environment. British Columbia’s COVID-19 proof of vaccination program was endorsed by Canucks Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Vancouver Canucks. Guests, employees and event staff must provide proof of full vaccination prior to entry to Rogers Arena for NHL games and Abbotsford Centre, where Vancouver’s American Hockey League affiliate will play. The International Olympic Committee has also made an allowance that nursing mothers will be allowed to bring their babies to Tokyo. Numerous Olympic athletes who are mothers, most prominently Canada’s Kim Gaucher and the United States’ Alex Morgan , had been calling attention to the issue recently. And what was reported last week was made official on Wednesday as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Bills Stadium will be open to 6,772 fans for the playoffs. Buffalo’s games had been closed to fans for the regular season as part of the state’s COVID-19 protocols. While MLS is finishing the season in front of a small number of fans, the league that bills itself as the biggest in world soccer — the English Premier League — last weekend was allowed to have fans in the stands for the first time since the pandemic began in March. Ten teams are in Tier 2 according to UK COVID standards and allowed up to 2,000 fans: Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham. Should any of those clubs’ regions be moved into Tier 1, they would be allowed up to 4,000 fans. Teams in Tier 3 remain closed to fans. The 2021 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles will be played without spectators in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament is scheduled to be held February 15–21. The tournament is taking its family village virtual in 2021 with digital activities, challenges, education resources and more for kids ages 5–12. For every conference at this point, any outbreaks within a league program would require a contortionist’s ability to revamp the schedule, especially because of the timeline in December with championship games on December 19 and the College Football Playoff selection committee picking its four teams for the semifinals the day after. Given the number of COVID-19 cases nationally, one would not be surprised that any team that gets a bowl berth would have to deal with quarantine — a potential issue for the College Football Playoff semifinals, scheduled for January 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans. “The numbers are spiking,” Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday night. “That is the reality. We are committed to proceeding with our industry and we’re doing it with all the best science and adherence to the protocols. But ultimately, we are not in control.” “These guys, some of them just won’t do it,” Zimmer said of players getting vaccinated. “I shouldn’t say it, but some of the things they read is just, whew, out there.” Globe Life Field opened last season but without fans in attendance during the regular season. It was the host for the National League Championship Series and World Series with up to 11,500 fans in attendance at the World Series, won by the Los Angeles Dodgers. And that brings up the big question that faces Major League Baseball, perhaps even more so than the NHL or NBA: How the promised increase in the speed and amount of vaccinations to the general public will be handled by the league and its players because in theory, the closer to herd immunity that the country gets, the better the chance that MLB will by season’s end be able to play in front of much larger crowds than it will at the start of the season. “Our objective throughout has been to organize safe and secure Olympic Games, and we are working in close partnership with our Japanese colleagues to deliver this goal,” said IOC member  John Coates  of Australia  in an open letter posted on the organization’s website . “… These have been difficult times for all of us since the start of the pandemic, and this summer the eyes of the world will be on us and on Japan. We have an obligation, as the Olympic Movement, to all of those involved to do our utmost to make these Games safe and secure, so that these Olympic and Paralympic Games can indeed be the light at the end of the tunnel.” The ECHL, played almost exclusively in small or mid markets throughout the country, averaged 4,327 fans per game last season before play was suspended. Players on the teams that will opt out for the season will become free agents; players make between $550 and $1,000 weekly during the season with free housing and a food per diem. “We live in this world — whether it’s all 50 states going up or things that are happening closer to us at home,” Budenholzer said. “I think all the players, I think they’re locked in, being safe, being healthy. Hoping for the best for everybody around us and our country.” As the Canucks were given a few days to practice before its return to action, another team — this time south of the border — had to be put on its own pause. After three players from the Colorado Avalanche went onto the COVID list , the team’s games last weekend against the Los Angeles Kings plus a Tuesday game against the St. Louis Blues were postponed. The team is tentatively scheduled to return to action on Thursday night against the Blues. The city of Chicago announced on Monday that the Cubs and White Sox will be allowed to have fans, the Cubs starting on April 1’s Opening Day and the White Sox in time for their home opener on April 8. Capacity will be 20 percent for both venues, equaling 8,274 for the Cubs and 8,122 for the White Sox. Akatsuki Sneakers Cloud Jutsu It Naruto Anime Shoes MN05 “Prior to COVID coming to the front door, we were mainly focused on heat countermeasures as the unique challenge to the Tokyo Games,” said Masayuki Kanda , executive director of the Tokyo 2020 Transport Bureau. For the vast majority of those coming to Tokyo — an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people — a system of 2,200 coach buses and 2,700 fleet cars will shuttle them around the city on dedicated Olympic traffic lanes. The buses will be sourced from 600 different bus companies across the country. Training has already begun to let those drivers know how to get around the city. The Colts reportedly have one of the league’s lower percentages of vaccinated players. When asked earlier in camp if he was vaccinated, Wentz replied “That’s a personal decision.” The SEC is an entirely different matter. While football coaches ranging from Nick Saban in Alabama to Lane Kiffin in Mississippi have been publicly encouraging for vaccinations — the Rebels announced they are 100 percent vaccinated among players and staff earlier this week and the Crimson Tide are near 100 percent — four of the five states with the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated people in the United States are Alabama , Mississippi , Arkansas and Louisiana , home to six of the league’s 14 teams. The WTA Tour will have one more tournament in Australia this month before heading to seven countries throughout March. The ATP Tour will have a similar look for the next few weeks with tournaments in multiple countries throughout Europe, plus South America and the Middle East before both tours arrive in Miami for the Miami Open starting March 22 — the first scheduled U.S. stop for both tours with the postponement for a second straight spring of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Now to the question of vaccinated athletes. When it comes to the host country, Japan’s national vaccination campaign started on February 17 and was delayed within one week; vaccines in the country are not scheduled to be available to the mass public until late spring. Selection Sunday is almost a month away and in men’s college basketball, all 30 conferences playing this season are currently planning to hold tournaments to determine their automatic bids to the 68-team field. But a recent CBS Sports survey of 41 coaches found 27% were opposed to the idea of doing so in the men’s game and UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma recently said it wouldn’t bother him if the Big East women’s tournament was canceled. “From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott .  “Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.” Rhoades, talking with SicEm365 Radio on Monday, said the outbreak may be linked to the team’s October 3 game at West Virginia and a false negative test that allowed an infected individual to travel. The statement concluded that the NCAA hopes to have preliminary assessments in late April with a final report in the summer after all of our championships are completed. • The Dublin, Ohio , to take the place of an event scheduled for Iowa that was canceled. The tour said the event will take place July 9–12 on the week preceding the already scheduled Memorial Tournament that will be at the same location. The event will be played without spectators and takes the place of the recently canceled John Deere Classic, which will return to the schedule next year. The tour hoped to allow fans at the John Deere Classic in the Quad Cities area, but has announced that local and state-related restrictions on gatherings will cause the event to be canceled. “When we all follow the protocols, they work and they work well,” said NFLPA President JC Tretter, a lineman on the Cleveland Browns. “The contact tracing, getting everyone who potentially are exposed out of the building, works to stop the spread of the virus. It will all come down to how well we follow those protocols and we will continue to evolve those protocols as needed. We know they work and we need to make sure we have 100 percent compliance to finish the season.” “I don’t think we should keep it at one central site, though, because I don’t think that’s fair to the fans,” Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson told ESPN. “… There is kind of something romantic about applying for NCAA tickets and finding out you got it and planning your year around that. I think there is something really, really exciting about that.” Saturday’s Games L.A. Rams at Green Bay: Up to 6,000 fans will be allowed Baltimore at Buffalo: Up to 6,700 fans will be allowed The St. Louis Cardinals have reinstated a mask mandate for all indoor spaces at Busch Stadium after local regulations were implemented. The tournament will go from July 8 through August 11 with all 26 teams competing in a World Cup-style tournament. There will be a group stage with six groups; the Western Conference will have three four-team groups and the Eastern Conference will have three groups, two with four teams apiece and one with six teams. Each team will play three group games, with the top two in each group moving to the knockout round and the four best third-place finishers also advancing. The NFL’s front office and medical advisers know the league is close to accomplishing a regular season schedule without having to go into some type of bubble format. Protocols both around each team’s facility and in-game behavior have been increasingly strengthened the past three weeks. But their resistance to switching to a bubble-type of format in the playoffs is evident, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying as much during a conference call with the media on Wednesday before the Ravens-Steelers game. “Let’s just be sure we get the race off and next year let’s blow the roof off the place,” Penske said. The cancellations continued on Saturday, with Florida State having a second game postponed — this time against Virginia after last week’s postponement against Clemson. The Seminoles may still be able to play a full schedule if it can get next week’s game against Duke in; FSU could play Clemson on a mutual off day December 12, then play Virginia on December 19 since neither team will be in the conference title game. The only team that has had fans for games this season in Canada, the Montreal Canadiens were cheered on by more than 3,500 fans on Sunday night in an attempt to take a 3-1 series lead on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup semifinals. That the conference tournament season has started is a reminder of how different things were almost a year ago and also of the road that the college basketball season has taken to get here — at one point this season, a CBS Sports survey of 41 coaches found 27 percent were opposed to the idea of having conference tournaments in the men’s game. And even SEC schools with games not postponed are dealing with outbreaks. Mississippi Coach Lane Kiffin , whose team played Alabama last week, said they are dealing with a COVID-19 issue in the team and while he would not give exact numbers, admitted “we are hurting numbers wise.” Mississippi is scheduled to play Arkansas on Saturday. The 2021 Cup schedule includes many of the traditional fan favorite venues such as Daytona and stops in Charlotte, Atlanta, Arizona, California, Tennessee, Virginia and Darlington, South Carolina. There are a few changes though with three new stops at the Circuit of the Americans in Austin, Texas; Road America in Wisconsin; and Nashville Superspeedway plus a total of six road-course races, double last season’s amount. One of the Cup Series stops in Bristol will be a dirt race, the first time that has happened since 1970 for NASCAR’s top series. Legends President and CEO Shervin Mirhashemi agreed, especially with the move to cashless venues. He added that more venues than ever before will also be focusing on a frictionless fan experience whether it be entry into the venue, concessions and merchandise purchases and more. While Lacob’s team has not yet hosted fans, nearly two-thirds of the NBA by this point have been able to reopen their doors to a restricted level of attendance. The league’s four California-based teams between the Warriors, Sacramento Kings, L.A. Clippers and L.A. Lakers may be able to have fans by the end of the season depending on the tiers that their respective counties are in as part of California’s re-opening process. The trends are similar throughout European sports as well. The French Open, which started on Sunday, was planning on having 5,000 spectators per day before government leaders said the tournament must be in line with the same measures other businesses have in place to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, dropping the maximum spectators each day at Roland Garros to 1,000. That number is only the latest downsizing of a projected crowd — the French Tennis Federation in July said that it planned to have 20,000 fans per day, then revised it down to 11,500 at the start of September, then 5,000 two weeks before the tournament before the current number. “We remain committed to providing our student-athletes a quality experience and competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics,” said American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco . “We were prepared to conduct competition in the fall in men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, but moving to the spring was in the best interest of our student-athletes as it will align our schedules to allow our teams to compete for national championships.” The 2020 CCL was suspended in March at the quarterfinal stage with three of the four matchups at the halfway point of their home-and-home format. For those matches, there will be one game played and the score will be added to the previous first leg; should the aggregate be tied, away goals will be the tiebreaker. If the away goals are tied, the game will go straight to penalty kicks. Japan has attributed about 8,000 deaths to COVID-19 but has controlled it better than most countries. But its spread around the world forced the cancellation of the Games to this summer and in the time since, the Olympics have become extremely unpopular in Japan with up to 80 percent wanting the event either postponed again or outright canceled. The Los Angeles Dodgers are one instance of fan demand that will certainly outweigh inventory. Coming off its first World Series championship since 1988, the Dodgers — who had planned to unveil a $100 million renovation at Dodger Stadium last season — are not even sure that they will be able to have fans in the stands when the season starts in early April. Team President Stan Kasten told season-ticket holders that the team would work with local and state officials to have a restricted number of fans. But home opener tickets have already made their way onto resale sites StubHub and Vivid Seats — with prices ranging at up to $9,000 for one seat on the reserved level on Stubhub and Vivid Seats listing 94 tickets for sale with one group of spots in the left-field pavilion selling for $8,644 for the team’s scheduled home opener on April 9 against the Washington Nationals. “If it is determined that spring training is going to start on February 27, we’re prepared for that,” Cactus League Executive Director Bridget Binsbacher told ESPN . “Our focus is having a safe, secure experience for all involved. We believe we can do that on the 27th. We believe we can do that a month from the 27th.” The NFL offered up all of its stadiums earlier this spring to become vaccination clinics. Major League Baseball announced on Friday that the 11 MLB team venues that have been vaccination clinics have combined to administer one million vaccines to the public. The NFL’s official announcement followed discussions with public health officials, including the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, and area hospitals and health care systems. The Super Bowl capacity will be a little less than what the AFC and NFL Championship Games combined will have for attendance. Major League Baseball and the players’ union issued a testing update Friday, announcing four new positive tests from 14,354 tests administered over the past week across all of the sport, a 0.03 percent rate. The NCAA will hold the entirety of its Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament in San Antonio and the surrounding region, the organization officially announced on Friday. College football season is not yet underway and already two of college sports’ most prominent conference commissioners are sounding the siren on increasing vaccinations and hinting at the consequences of campuses and athletic departments not doing more to encourage vaccination rates among athletes. WWE has been holding its weekly TV and monthly pay-per-view events in Orlando for more than a year before starting the ThunderDome last August, placing nearly 1,000 LED boards inside Orlando’s Amway Center to allow fans to attend events virtually. The ThunderDome featured large LED screens as well as pyrotechnics, lasers, graphics, and drone cameras; it moved to Tampa’s Yuengling Center in April. Mike Dowse , the USTA’s chief executive officer and executive director, said last year’s bubble environment included 14,000 COVID tests with 99.97 percent coming back negative. “Hands down it was run in a very, very safe way,” he said, adding that the decision to have the event without fans last year left the USTA with a $180 million budget deficit for 2020. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s inevitable,” Bettman said on Monday. “It’s something that makes good sense for us to be considering and looking at. But certainly not for next season. What happens beyond that, I’m not prepared to predict.” “I encourage people to get vaccinated,” Martinez said. “It does help. I’m seeing it firsthand. It’s basically a small head cold, but they’re doing fine.” The National Hockey League knew that this season would be a difficult one. There was a hard deadline to finish the season so that its television partner, NBC, would be able to devote its airtime to the Olympic Summer Games. The league would not be playing the entire season in a bubble environment, unlike the format in which it finished the 2019–2020 season over the summer. As part of the agreement, Turner Sports networks — whether it be TNT or TBS — will televise the Winter Classic for each of the next seven years plus the Stanley Cup Final in 2023, 2025 and 2027 along with one conference finals each season, half of the first two rounds of the playoffs and 72 regular-season games. The NHL is particularly pleased to be working with a group that also owns Bleacher Report and HBO Max, which would boost hockey’s streaming and social media presences. Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: Up to 16,000 fans will be allowed Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: Up to 13,300 fans will be allowed Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers: Up to 5,500 fans will be allowed Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons: A “limited capacity” of fans will be allowed New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: A “limited capacity” of fans will be allowed Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: Immediate family members will be allowed Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets: No fans until further notice Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team: No fans until further notice Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers: No fans until further notice Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks: No fans until further notice The tournament was to be staged by Argentina and Colombia, the first time in its 105-year history to have joint hosts. Colombia pulled out as co-host on May 20 because of social and economic unrest and Argentina is struggling with a spike in COVID-19 cases ­— 484 infections per 100,000 people in the past seven days, according to Reuters. In a college football season filled with turmoil on how to deal with COVID-19, it would only end like this. With no decision still made on the 2022 Games, teams are waiting to see what they should be doing when it comes to ticket sales since a late decision against having players in Beijing would necessitate the NHL releasing a new version of its 2021–2022 schedule. The schedule that was released includes an Olympic break from February 7—22. ESPN reported at least two NHL teams have told fans a final decision would be made by the end of August. ESPN also said no fans they surveyed have received a promotional schedule for the upcoming season because should the NHL not participate in the Games, many of those dates could potentially move in a reshuffled schedule. While the season is a go, there will be modifications for players and fans. Fans who are allowed to attend games are expected to be subject to safety protocols that include masks and social distancing along with restricted capacities depending on the local government guidelines. The league is expected to play most of its games in August in Western Canada, where there are greater chances of having fans at the season openers. Away goals never had such meaning in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League before. The 2019–2020 National Hockey League season ended in an inventive bubble environment that saw two cities in Canada hosting an expanded playoff before the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars in Edmonton — and while that may not sound like it makes sense, little about any pro sports league’s postseason did last year. Two of the Power Five conferences have moved their tournaments to limit travel ahead of league teams heading to Indianapolis for the Big Dance. The Big Ten moved its tournament from Chicago to Indianapolis and the ACC will its games in Greensboro, North Carolina, instead of Washington. The SEC and Big 12 are remaining in their current locations. Baylor coach Scott Drew said the Big 12 has told coaches their setup would be like a bubble similar to the NCAA Tournament. Tickets for the March 21 race at Albert Park have yet to go on sale, according to Reuters. Various reports said a postponement was likely to be announced later in January after the race was canceled last year, hours before the first practice was about to start as a member of one of the competing teams tested positive. Per NCAA protocols, playing in Indianapolis requires seven consecutive days of negative test results among Tier 1 personnel before arrival in Indianapolis. NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt , on the SportsTravel Podcast two weeks ago , addressed the issue of trying to get all 68 selected teams into the controlled environment safely. The NFL announced its new media rights deals with multiple reports saying the league will make $110 billion — with a B — through 2033. And aside from one part of the various packages, there will be little change for fans’ viewing routines. The financial ramifications of COVID-19 throughout the sports industry are vast, with Bloomberg reporting in November 2020 that pro sports were facing a combined $13 billion in sales decreases. And when there’s that much money lost, there is motivation to come up with new ways to diversify revenue streams. Major League Soccer will return to action with a tournament starting July 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World Resort in Orlando , Florida . The league started its much-hyped 25th year of competition in March before the season was suspended after two weeks. And as fans have increasingly returned to sporting events, golf is no different. The USGA has announced that a limited number of fans will be in attendance at the men’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego from June 17–20 as well as the women’s Open at The Olympic Club , in San Francisco from June 3–6 — with a key disclaimer about fans who want to travel to California to be at either event. But NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday that epidemiologists the union consults with have advised that moving into a bubble for the postseason has its own risks because given the size of an NFL team roster, one positive could make an outbreak even more pronounced. The 23-race calendar also stops in Austin, Texas, on October 24 and finishes in Abu Dhabi on December 12. F1 said it expects fans to return for the 2021 season after the majority of last year’s races were held behind closed doors. Now, it did technically exist this year, but that was after MLB and the Players Association agreed upon an extra round of the postseason with an expanded 16-team field. The move was designed to help drive additional revenue to make up for a portion of what was lost because of the shortened season with no fans in attendance until the tail end of the postseason. But the 16-team playoffs with a bonus first round was a one-off and any resumption of the format would have to be collectively bargained. Given  how icy this past year’s talks were just to have a shortened season, the odds of there being an easy agreement would not be one to bet on in Las Vegas. Potentially the weirdest game of what has been an already weird season will be on Sunday in Denver, Colorado, where the Broncos do not have healthy quarterbacks — literally. A backup quarterback, Jeff Driskel , tested positive on Thursday and each of the team’s other quarterbacks — starter Drew Lock and backups Blake Bortles and Brett Rypien — have been ruled out by the league as close contacts. There were also reports from ESPN that the quarterbacks were not wearing masks when together in meeting rooms during the week. Sports Illustrated reported , as well as Yahoo, that the Buckeyes have had positive tests within the program but not enough to trigger a postponement. The CFP had previously said that should the title game be postponed, it would be rescheduled for January 18. SI also reported that both teams have thresholds for 53 total healthy players on each roster with commissioners on the CFP committee who work outside the SEC and Big Ten being a “final arbiter” on game decisions. With anything being planned through the winter and into next year, there is also the specter of whether there will be a suspension of the season for an outbreak, or if the bubble environment would be needed again. While the NBA was able to spend months planning for the Orlando bubble, this offseason including a draft, free agency and preseason camps will be planned and executed in short order. She added that the IOC’s athlete survey started in June 2020 and involved more than 3,500 athletes and the determination made by the commission “is what they are requesting for,” claiming 70 percent of athletes surveyed do not want protests on podiums or fields of play. Japan has attributed 11,000 deaths to COVID-19 and variants of the virus are spreading with reports of public health systems coming under pressure, with only 2 percent of the population vaccinated. Between 60-80 percent of Japanese people in opinion polls have said the Olympics should be canceled or postponed with an online petition calling for the Games to be canceled gaining 300,000 signatures in three days. The Pac-12’s season will include each team playing five divisional games plus one cross-division game before the conference championship game on December 18 – with the remaining teams not in the title game having a bonus cross-division game. The league also announced that winter sports would be allowed to begin before January 1, another reversal of an earlier decision and allowing its men’s and women’s basketball teams to participate in early-season tournaments. Baltimore at Tennessee: Up to 14,520 fans allowed. Chicago at New Orleans: Up to 3,000 fans allowed. Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Friends and family members of the players will be allowed. An email sent to Steelers season-ticket holders on Monday said: “The Steelers and Heinz Field Management are requiring that all guests, staff and vendors at Heinz Field, regardless of their vaccination status, wear a mask while visiting all indoor areas of the stadium.” It said that fans will not have to show proof of vaccination status to attend games. Since 1997, SportsTravel magazine has served the sports‐related travel and event industry. It is the only publication written and designed to serve the people who organize, manage and host sporting events of all types at all levels. According to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols that were most recently updated on July 27, only unvaccinated players are subject to the five-day re-entry cadence that requires daily testing. Fully vaccinated players are required to test once every 14 days. The two major professional tennis tours released their schedules for a modified 2020 season, including the two Grand Slams remaining between the traditional dates for the U.S. Open and the rescheduled French Open. Vermont delaying basketball until Dec. 18. smsLqPzQ — Jeff Goodman November 16, 2020 The four-day Winter Dew Tour organized by Adventure Sports Network includes the world’s best male and female skiers and snowboarders competing in individual halfpipe, slopestyle, Dew Tour’s signature Team Challenge competition, an industry award shows and a calendar of fan-based activities. The 2020 event was held in February, the first time in the event’s history at Copper Mountain after years being held in Breckenridge, Colorado. The decision to postpone is set to affect the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions, all of which were due to be held in October and November. The Rugby League World Cup is an international tournament run by the International Rugby League; only Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand have ever won the event, with Australia winning 11 of the 15 tournaments all-time. To no one’s surprise, health officials rejected Djokovic’s demands, or suggestions, or however you want to frame them. And first serve for the Australian Open remains on track for February 8. The spread of coronavirus that has increased as the league’s season has developed raises more questions about if the league will eventually have to go to some type of bubble format to make sure games are completed on schedule. The NFL Network reported over the weekend that the league, which has repeatedly tried to strengthen COVID-19 protocols the past three weeks, will create “local bubbles” for the teams that make the playoffs with players, staffs and team personnel staying isolated in hotels except for practices at the respective team facilities. The Euro event was held in 13 cities throughout the continent, which during a pandemic resulted in crowds that were in small numbers in some sites but sellout crowds in a few others. The lack of consistent standards and the amount of travel led UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin to say another continental Euro event is unlikely; UEFA is exploring whether to expand the event to 32 teams, though, in part because a larger field would mean more games and therefore greater future revenue for an event. The 25th annual Xterra World Championship in Maui scheduled for November 8 and the 13th annual Xterra Trail Run World Championship half-marathon on Oahu on December 6 have been cancelled. The decision comes after several other events this summer in Avon , Colorado ; Pelham , Alabama , and Utah were also canceled. The alerts do not ban U.S. citizens from visiting Japan. Tokyo organizers had already announced that foreign fans would not be allowed at the event but there would still be hundreds of athletes, coaches and support staff that would be traveling this summer along with media. “Our hope is going to be to fill this stadium with fans,” said Jonathan Barker , head of live events and production for the NFL, to the Tampa Bay Times . “That’s our hope. But the smart thing to do is to prepare just in case. If we find ourselves on February 7 where we’re in different scenario, we’re going to just make sure we’re ready for that.” The announced attendance was 38,238 for the Rangers’ 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers had announced in the spring that it would have the home opener open to 100 percent capacity but had not said beyond the opener what it would be allowing for home attendance the rest of the season; Globe Life Field opened last season and was the host of the neutral site National League Championship Series and World Series but did not have fans during the regular season for Rangers home games. The Browns on Wednesday shut down their facility for the second time in five days due to positive tests within the organization. Ten players are on the Browns’ COVID-19 list ahead of playing AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in a win-and-in game to reach the playoffs. The latest Centers for Disease Control guidance says fully vaccinated people can mingle indoors with others who are fully vaccinated but everyone should still wear masks in public. Tarrant County, where Globe Life Field is located, and neighboring Dallas County both have about a 20 percent rate of fully vaccinated people, with about 30 percent partially vaccinated. Michigan joined Notre Dame on the sidelines on Friday morning, announcing that the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional will be withdrawing and No. 3 seed Minnesota-Duluth will advance via walkover. Michigan said there were an unspecified number of positive COVID-19 tests within its Tier 1 testing group. The United States Tennis Association has canceled a series of national-level events scheduled for August throughout the country for both juniors and adults. The 2020-2021 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season will not be conducted in North America after the international ski federation canceled a two-week stretch that usually takes place in the United States and Canada in November and December. Team USA’s 3×3 women’s team also had a player pull out after a positive COVID-19 test. Katie Lou Samuelson will not compete in the tournament, USA Basketball announced Monday; Samuelson, a member of the Seattle Storm, will be replaced by Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young , who joins Kelsey Plum , Allisha Gray and Stefanie Dolson The ACC’s decision to delay the start of fall sports is the first by a Power 5 conference. The Patriot League has pushed its start back until September 4 and the Ivy League announced the cancellation of all fall sports on Wednesday. The delay includes all exhibition and non-conference games in men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball. The Rams arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday after playing in the Atlantic 10 tournament game against St. Bonaventure the Sunday before the tournament in Dayton, Ohio. In order to get into the controlled environment in Indianapolis, teams had to show seven consecutive days of negative COVID-19 tests. Once in Indianapolis, teams would undergo daily testing and that is when VCU’s positives first popped up. The NCAA made Tuesday night its deadline for replacement teams to enter the field; no teams had issues at that time. In a press conference in advance of the Women’s Final Four, NCAA President Mark Emmert reiterated his disappointment in the disparities between the women’s championship in San Antonio and the men’s event being staged in Indianapolis. In opening remarks, he noted that the men’s event is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021 while the women have only had a championship for 40 years. But despite the “head start” on the men’s side, Emmert said more needs to be done to elevate the women’s event. Within a week of announcing that Japanese fans would be able to attend events at the Olympic Summer Games, Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto is backtracking and suggesting a closed-off Games could still happen with less than a month to go before the Opening Ceremony. The games will be played with no fans in attendance at Warrior Ice Arena, which is home of the Boston Bruins training facility and home ice for the NWHL’s Boston Pride. Daily COVID-19 testing will be administered for all players and staff. The Pac-12 enters the week with USC, Arizona State and Washington State trying to see if each will have enough players available for upcoming games — while Stanford is left trying to find out where it can practice and play home games after Santa Clara County’s order banning high school, collegiate and professional sports for three weeks. Entering this week, the Pac-12 has already had nine cancellations in four weeks since its shortened season was scheduled to get underway with Arizona State accounting for three of the nine. The Big Ten has had six cancellations in six-plus weeks and the SEC has had 10 cancellations in 10 weeks. But perhaps more important to those who spent thousands of dollars on ticket packages, CoSport acknowledged that it plans to keep a 20 percent handling fee. “Authorized Ticket Resellers, such as CoSport, conduct international ticketing programs on behalf of organizing committees and are allowed to charge this fee for doing so,” Long wrote. “As the program was developed and mostly implemented a year ago, this fee has been expended. In fact, due to the refund process, some of our costs, such as financial transaction processing fees and currency conversion will be doubled.” Hashimoto confirmed that the subject of fans was a key part of the recent “five-party” talks with Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons , Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa . Hashimoto said a “zero-fans option” was not discussed. The league is trying to mitigate those losses as much as possible; teams are allowed to have helmet sponsors for the first time and on Thursday, the league struck a landmark partnership with Bally’s Corporation becoming the NHL’s Official Betting Partner, the first time a major pro league has struck an official betting partnership. In trying to limit the amount of travel for teams this season, the NHL realigned divisions and instituted division-only play and that has actually become well-received from fans — especially the North Division, made up entirely of Canadian-based teams. The Big East at least, is contemplating having its teams play in a bubble during the second semester as students return to member campuses whether all of them go into one venue or they gather in small regional groups. The league took pains to say that that plan is not on the books for its schedules, but the coaches seem to be open to the idea. “The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery . “It is an incredibly important time for the city of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky both culturally, economically and with respect to our time-honored traditions. Both employees and guests are asked to take an active role in following all guidelines. We must all do our part to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.” It is not just the outdoor venues that are starting to see momentum growing toward restricted numbers of fans in attendance as vaccination efforts slowly build up steam. The NBA has more than a dozen teams playing in front of fans and both the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will have fans in attendance . The NHL has been slower but with the recent announcements in Nevada, New York and New Jersey that sports venues can be opened, the Vegas Golden Knights, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are setting spectator policies that will make a total of nine hockey teams with fans on hand; the largest crowds currently allowed are 5,000 apiece for the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers. MORE: VCU, Bonaventure and A-10 title game refs all stayed in same Dayton hotel for conf. title game—along w/ the public, including many who weren’t wearing masks. One ref is struggling mightily with the virus. The NFL said last month it would like to have a mandate for vaccines among all players which the NFLPA did not agree to. The league has mandated vaccination for coaches and Tier 1 personnel on each team who interact with players on a regular season. • A scheduled August 29 college football game between Notre Dame and Navy for Dublin , Ireland , will instead be played at Annapolis, Maryland , at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Labor Day Weekend. The teams played at Aviva Stadium in 2012 with more than 35,000 fans traveling from the United States. In 2020, around 40,000 people from the U.S. were expected to attend. Both programs plan for a return to Ireland in the coming years. The rescheduled site will be the first time that Notre Dame will play on Navy’s home field in the rivalry’s 94-year history. And then there was Wimbledon, the most famous of the four Slams. It was notable for two reasons in 2020; first, that it was canceled for the first time since World War II and second, that it received $253.5 million from insurance carriers because it, unlike many other events around the world, had pandemic insurance. As it becomes almost a full year to the day that the NBA announced it was suspending the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sports world began 365 days unlike any other in its history, the Texas Rangers have become the first pro franchise to announce its intentions to have a capacity crowd on hand for a game this calendar year. The women’s tournament in San Antonio ended with perhaps the best possible outcome in its Final Four as well: A classic battle in the semifinal between two top seeds. After a last-second shot by South Carolina rimmed out, Stanford advanced to play Arizona, which upset the powerhouse Connecticut team and showcased the continuing depth of the women’s game. In an all-Pac-12 championship game, Stanford won after seeing Arizona’s potential game-winner rim out at the exact same basket that South Carolina had missed two shots in the final seconds only days before. Unlike other Power 5 Conferences, the Big Ten does not have an extra week for the schedule worked into its plan ahead of the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis should there be any games that are canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the team or staff. Of the three Power 5 Conferences that have already started its seasons — the Big 12, ACC and SEC — each has had at least two games moved around because of team outbreaks, showcasing the difficulty that the Big Ten will have ahead. The last of the Power 5 Conferences to kick off, the Pac-12, has a seven-game conference schedule that starts in the first week of November. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic in sports has now reached pickleball as well. USA Pickleball , the sport’s national governing body, announced that in light of the pandemic, the 2020 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships will not take place. The event had been scheduled for the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, from October 31–November 8. The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in venues and any other Olympic area. But World Athletics’ President Sebastian Coe and others have said athletes should be allowed to make gestures during the Games. The maximum number of games a men’s team can play will be up to 25 games and the minimum games required for NCAA championship selection will be decreased to 13 games. Both the men’s and women’s basketball committees recommend a minimum of four nonconference games; women’s teams can schedule 23 games, plus one multiple-team event, or 25 games without an event. “Athletes in the U.S. agree that they should wait their proper place in line,” said Bree Schaaf , an Olympian and current chair of Team USA Athletes’ Advisory Council. “Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” Dr. Jim Borchers , head team physician at Ohio State and co-chair of the return to competition task force’s medical subcommittee, said in a prepared statement. “The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.” While the NFL cannot mandate vaccination of players because of the CBA negotiated by Smith and others in the union, it does have the ability to do so for other employees on all 32 teams — and it has made its position on the issue clear in the past week. NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills has told clubs that Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees — including coaches, front-office executives, medical personnel, video specialists and others who work with players —  will not be allowed to be around players without proof of vaccination . The Canucks’ issues follow four games postponed in Canada after an outbreak within the Montreal Canadians in late March that almost assures the season will go beyond its originally scheduled end date ahead of the playoffs. The NHL has postponed 45 games because of COVID-19, 37 for U.S.-based teams. The college football schedule, which has increased in volume with each passing week, gets its final Power 5 conference back on Saturday as the Pac-12 kicks off an abbreviated seven-game schedule, a few days after the Mid-American Conference and its famous #MACtion hashtag returned to social media with a slate of weekday games. “We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee, coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan, and during Games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA athletes this summer,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement Monday. The Las Vegas Raiders are the first National Football League team to announce that fans at Allegiant Stadium will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the season opening in less than a month. “This proposal at its heart was created to provide more participation, for more players and more schools,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said. “Trying to make this environment a happy place for everybody required a lot of work,” added Susie Townsend , senior vice president of convention services for Visit Indy. Townsend detailed not only  the number of meals served and laundry done, but also said that from 28,000 COVID samples tested by IU Health, only 15 came back positive for the tournament. Only one team was forced to forfeit a game during the tournament as VCU had to withdraw hours before its first-round game against Oregon. Emmert also apologized to women’s basketball players, admitting “we failed to deliver the things they earned and deserved.” Whether you call it the worst-kept secret ahead of the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games or the most drawn-out decision ahead of this summer’s event, it is official: There will be no foreign fans allowed. One team that has not played in front of an empty home stadium this season is the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones is proud of it, saying the team will continue to increase attendance at AT&T Stadium after having 31,700 fans at a November 8 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, for those who wonder if not having fans at games this season would change the definition of “home-field advantage,” they were right: Entering last weekend, home teams were 97-95-1, a .505 winning percentage that would be the lowest home win percentage in more than 20 years. The SEC, the biggest league in college football, had one team — Vanderbilt — mostly prohibit fan attendance this season. The others typically allowed up to a quarter of their stadiums’ capacity to be filled. One team, Texas A&M, averaged 24,876 through its four games. The league entered this week with the chance of having each of its teams, through a series of rescheduled matchups, playing a 10-game conference-only schedule. But this week disrupted those plans with Mississippi’s test results such that the Rebels cannot play against Texas A&M — a blow for the Aggies, who are fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings and need as many games as possible to make an impression on the selection committee since it will not be in the SEC title game, which will match Alabama against Florida on December 19 in front of 17,500 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Close contact protocols are an entirely different topic altogether, but the league’s overall number of positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff members, which had mirrored the country’s rise in past week, actually declined a small amount in the most recent round. Dr. Allen Sills , the league’s chief medical officer, said that as the postseason approaches, “we’re doing calls with the teams headed or potentially headed to the playoffs to share what we have learned over five months and how we can double down as we enter the playoffs. We had a call last night looking at planning for the offseason” for such items as cadence of testing and contact tracing. Roger Goodell said during a media call, saying “we want to invite our fans in” but only if teams are following the health and safety protocols set by local and state health authorities. With some teams deciding to allow fans, there was criticism from Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott about not having a cohesive league policy. Goodell said “we do not believe it is” a competitive advantage for some teams to have fans in the stadiums but others may not this season. “Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star Game, but this is not a typical year,” Bottoms said. “We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party.” NASCAR does not have a vaccine mandate for its competitors. While it had strict protocols to resume competition three months into the pandemic last year, officials started loosening those restrictions this season and fully reopened garages to guests in late May with nearly every race held under capacity crowd conditions. UEFA said that UK-based fans can enter matches at Wembley if they prove a full vaccination status either via the NHS App or via Scottish or Welsh vaccination record services. Foreign fans must provide proof of a negative test at minimum. The Blue Devils are the first Power 5 to cancel its season in the women’s game, although the Ivy League had cancelled its women’s season earlier this season. The powerhouse Duke men’s team will continue its season, although Coach Mike Krzyzewski has openly wondered about why the season was being played; in what perhaps was a hint for the Blue Devil women’s program’s eventual decision, new Coach Kara Lawson had said weeks ago “I don’t think we should be playing right now. That’s my opinion on it.” Players who test positive are sidelined for a minimum of 10 days before they are allowed to return, per MLB protocols. In addition to the four most recent positive tests, five other players including All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge have tested positive since the All-Star break. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott noted while the Conference’s plan to keep student-athletes safe was working in accordance with the Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee guidelines and state and local government orders, the situation was becoming more challenging: “Unlike professional sports, college sports cannot operate in a bubble,” he said. “Our athletic programs are a part of broader campuses in communities where in many cases the prevalence of COVID-19 is significant.  We will continue to monitor the situation and when conditions change we will be ready to explore all options to play the impacted sports in the new calendar year.” The Euro 2020 soccer tournament has been blamed for a surge in coronavirus cases throughout Europe, with Germany’s interior minister called UEFA “utterly irresponsible” for allowing big crowds at the tournament. “It’s going to take a great deal of effort and discipline by every team, every official, anybody that’s around the participating teams,” Gavitt said during the SportsTravel Podcast, released on Monday . “Out of respect for this virus and the challenge it represents, the message is we’re all in this together, because the weakest link, anyone that makes a poor decision, could have significant impact on that team or teams that come in contact with.” Bubble already is part of the lexicon for college basketball, especially in March. But this year, anybody that hosts a tournament will certainly hope that their bubble does not burst. Of the bubbles that have existed and are existing in the sports world, two of the more ambitious ones are the NBA’s in Orlando, Florida, and the NHL’s in Canada, first in two sites and now with the Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton. More off-field news continued on Monday when the Texas Rangers had their home opener in front of a giant crowd at Globe Life Field, a decision that drew harsh criticism from medical experts and President Joe Biden . Hours before the game, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he would not throw out the first pitch at the game in protest of MLB’s All-Star decision and additionally, he would not “participate in an event held by MLB, and the State will not seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special events.” CoSport , the company authorized to sell ticket packages in the United States, announced over the weekend that refunds can be expected in the third quarter of the year and that it would retain the 20 percent handling fee it charged those who had previously purchased packages. The Pac-12, while not in College Football Playoff contention in recent years, still maintains multiple national brands between USC, UCLA and Oregon. The rivalry between Stanford and Cal-Berkeley has been played every year since 1945, and the rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State has been played continuously since 1945. The LA rivalry between USC and UCLA will not be played for the first time since 1935. Players are not required to be fully vaccinated, though many were last season after the league agreed to relax some health and safety protocols for those who were including fewer mandated tests, no quarantine requirements following contact tracing issues and more freedoms on road trips. Scotland’s health authority said 1,991 people had been identified as attending a Euro 2020 event while infectious and Russia’s deputy prime minister has called for a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people — but St Petersburg hosted a quarterfinal on Friday with approximately 34,000 fans allowed. Of the 13 FCS football conferences, eight have announced they will not have fall seasons: the CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, NEC, Patriot League and SWAC in addition to the Big Sky and Pioneer League. The Big South, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland conferences have not yet announced plans. “We will report our findings here to the government,” Kiyotaka Eguchi , an official of the Kanagawa prefecture, said Friday. “The information we get here will be reflected in the guidelines, and that will also be used for the next year’s Olympics and professional baseball.” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby made similar pleas during his league’s kickoff event last week. Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips said Wednesday to start his league’s preseason media event that more than half the teams in the conference have exceeded 85 percent vaccinatied but there is no decision on whether games affected by COVID-19 will be rescheduled or forfeited. In the past week, the New York Jets and Giants have announced that it will not have fans, while the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers announced that it would have a restricted number of fans in attendance — if they are able to have fans at all. The Atlanta Falcons joined that list on Wednesday, saying that it would have up to 20,000 fans at games allowed. Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis already has said he does not expect fans to be in attendance when his team opens Allegiant Stadium. “We’re fortunate to be working with San Antonio, which features one of the most experienced local organizing committees in the country,” said Lynn Holzman , NCAA vice president of women’s basketball. “Our No. 1 priority is to focus on creating and implementing safety controls in an environment for student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and everyone else associated with the championship.” The Gators’ home opener against South Carolina did not come close to that type of noise. Restricted in its attendance to 17,000 by health and safety protocols , the team drew an announced 15,120 on October 3 against the Gamecocks. Commissioners from the Big 12, SEC and ACC have urged vaccination rates to increase among member universities and the cities where they are located. While last year was full of postponements across college football, no conference has yet said they would have a similar policy this year, instead threatening to have teams unable to field a minimum number of players to forfeit scheduled games. “This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.” “I don’t know that I’ve ever introduced a topic that was less warmly received than the revisitation of protocols,” Bowlsby said. “With the Delta variant, there are good reasons we need to be vigilant, and we will be. There’s still going to be a fair amount of testing.” And with every release about the relationship and every mention of the impending 2026 FIFA World Cup inevitably comes one topic on social media: What if the leagues merged? The BNP Paribas Open, which when cancelled in 2020 was one of the first events disrupted by the pandemic, will be held in October 2021, the ATP and WTA Tours announced on Friday. The exact dates have not been announced because both tours still have to finish the final quarter of its respective calendars. There also should be applause for the 64 traveling parties who have combined for only one confirmed positive COVID-19 test even as the state of Texas is famously “100 percent open” with hundreds of people walking around San Antonio on a daily basis, a mix of masked and unmasked, while the players remain secluded rather than be exposed to COVID-19. Another thing heading into the weekend; after last weekend’s Browns win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was even more remarkable considering the team’s COVID-19 situation, missing several key players as well as Coach Kevin Stefanski , a mid-week round of testing each remaining team returned no positive tests among players. Whether those words will lead to actions, though, is a different topic. The news about a potential vaccination that would be available within the next year also has boosted the hopes for both the IOC and Tokyo organizers. One team has also told its fans that vaccinations are the only way it will be allowed to go to games this season; Erie County, New York, Executive Mark Poloncarz has said that Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fans will need proof of vaccination in the fall to be at games and that the Bills have already been informed of his plans. Pierre Ducrey , the IOC’s Olympic Games operations director, said the adherence to the guidelines will be crucial. “The key is that everyone is aware of the rules in this playbook and that they accept them and most importantly, they will implement them during the Games,” he said. “For those who choose deliberately not to respect the rules there could be impact on their participation in the Games.” “This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that. We appreciate the collaboration among the men’s basketball committee and staff, our hosts and local organizers, the staffs at each practice and competition venue, and our broadcast and corporate partners. We will all pull together and stage a terrific national championship.” The question of where college football goes after this season and if anything will change post-pandemic is easy: No, not really. Alabama and Ohio State will still sign more five-star recruits than nearly every other team. Teams such as Auburn and Florida will build training facilities for their programs that cost in the millions while some other Power 5 programs struggle to raise money. The Crimson Tide will have a training staff the size of what some mid-major programs have for their entire coaching staff. Should Power 5 conferences look to eliminate some of the non-conference games they traditionally would play, that will leave more schools on the outside looking in and raise further questions about the competitive balance in a sport where making the CFP has become seemingly a members-only enterprise. “We are honored that the PRCA selected Globe Life Field to host the 2020 Wrangler Nationals Final Rodeo and are thrilled to be a small part of bringing this world-class event back to Texas,” said Neil Leibman , chief operating officer of the Texas Rangers. There was not one person who could argue with the success of the NBA’s bubble environment to close out the elongated 2019–2020 season in Orlando, Florida. By being able to have a modified end to the regular season and then a full postseason, the league was able to salvage a piece of its revenue for the season and most importantly, had no positive tests for COVID-19 throughout the bubble’s existence at the ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports complex, leading to many people joking that the venue may not have been the happiest place on earth, but it was certainly the safest place this summer. When the SEC started play this season, it had an off week before its championship game on December 19 to give teams the chance to reschedule postponed games; but because Missouri already has a game scheduled for December 12, there is a chance that the Bulldogs and Tigers will not be able to reschedule their contest although “the rescheduling of games on the remaining SEC football schedule may include December 19 as a playing date,” the league announced on Wednesday. Throughout the country, states are already putting in new restrictions — or bringing back old ones — that threaten the status of winter sports at the high school level and youth tournaments. Monday’s Game Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants: The Giants are currently not allowing fans in attendance Any concern over the final schedule of events also has ramifications on the American sports scene. Both the NBA and NHL seasons, which were delayed in starting, are abbreviated in the number of regular season games so that both leagues can finish the playoffs before the Opening Ceremonies — the NHL because its broadcast partners at NBC are committed to emphatic Olympic coverage and would not have the time slots for hockey games, the NBA because many of its players would be participating in Tokyo. Should Tokyo 2021 become canceled, both leagues would have extended time in the summer to finish their seasons instead of being on a hard deadline. Knowing the tightrope the league now must walk the rest of the regular season, the league has rescheduled what was going to be the spotlight game on Thanksgiving Day, the Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers, after the Ravens have had five players and four staff members test positive for COVID-19 this week. The American Athletic Conference earlier announced that it will allow its football members to play eight conference games on their originally scheduled dates and nonconference games may be played at the discretion of the individual schools, with the understanding that opponents will strictly adhere to protocols and standards for testing, pregame, in-game and postgame operations set by The American’s Medical Advisory Group. Akatsuki Sneakers Cloud Jutsu It Naruto Anime Shoes MN05 The next two Super Bowls are in Los Angeles in 2022 and Glendale, Arizona, in 2023. New Orleans was scheduled to host in 2024 but instead is shifting to 2025 because of a conflict between the NFL’s expanding schedule and Mardi Gras; the now-open 2024 Super Bowl is widely expected to go to the new stadium in Las Vegas, where the Raiders moved this season. “After reviewing and discussing the Board of Governors’ directives, the Division II Presidents Council made the difficult decision that holding fall championships in any capacity was not a viable or fiscally responsible option for Division II,” said Sandra Jordan , chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and chair of the council. “This decision was discussed very thoroughly and I assure you, it was not made lightly. It is important to note that fall student-athletes will be given eligibility-related flexibility to allow them championship opportunities in the future. As we move forward, we will continue to focus on providing the best championships experience for our winter and spring student-athletes who were not afforded those opportunities at the beginning of this pandemic.” The traditional winner of the U.S. Open Cup has come from Major League Soccer , which will play in home markets after the completion of the MLS Is Back Tournament, with some markets making plans to have fans at games. “We are taking every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our athletes, coaches, and staff members, which means we will not be traveling to Europe for at least the first half of the season,” said USABS Chief Executive Officer Aron McGuire . “We will be utilizing our home tracks to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19. We are fortunate to have two world class facilities in our country that we can train and compete on this season.” One sure sign of the sports-event industry’s return is the return of mass participation races. One of the hardest-hit areas of the industry when the COVID-19 pandemic began, many races have either begun their in-person return or have recently announced plans to return. The IOC was already expecting that a significant proportion of Games participants will have been vaccinated before arriving in Japan. But the MoU with Pfizer is another step the body is taking to assure a growingly skeptical Japanese public that the Games can be held safely and securely. Lakers beat writer Kyle Goon wrote Friday in part about the dilemma that teams were facing, especially for the NBA champions : The decision will reverberate especially in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, where the league has several nationally recognizable programs. Between the talent in the league and Ivy League’s alums with deep pockets, it is not a surprise that several prominent people tried to impress on the league the desire to have a spring season, most notably with Yale lacrosse alum and billionaire businessman Joe Tsai offering to cover all costs for a men’s and women’s lacrosse bubble — an offer that was rejected. Circuit of the Americas course been scheduled for October 25. “Professional soccer, and other sports too, seem to be living in another cosmos where consideration is a foreign word,” Dagmar Freitag , who chairs the German parliament’s sports committee, told radio broadcaster DLF on Saturday. The NBA’s Toronto Raptors have announced that they will start the 2020–2021 season by playing home games in Tampa, Florida, as deadlines were looming for the league’s only Canadian team to figure out its plans for the upcoming season. At issue is the ability for the team to travel easily across the Canadian-U.S. border, and for U.S.-based teams to play in Toronto during the ongoing pandemic. Until the situation improves, the Raptors will play their home title at Amalie Arena. The 49ers announcement, along with those within the past week by the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers and Monday’s announcement by the Raiders, increase the number of NFL stadiums where fans will be — at minimum — expected to put masks on while in indoor spaces but allowed to have them off while sitting outdoors during the game. San Antonio had a home match on May 29 this season where all fans were able to get their first of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as part of a promotion by local provider Livingston Med Labs, with fans also being able to then schedule their second dose after the gameday shot so that they would be fully vaccinated. Oregon, which is in the Sweet 16, won its first-round game via walkover after No. 10 seed VCU was withdrawn from the tournament “in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department,” according to the NCAA when announcing the no-contest. The Rams were out of the tournament after having multiple positive tests within the program after it had entered the controlled environment in Indianapolis. “Somebody in that damn locker room , ‘Hey man, we’re going to have a chance, are you vaccinated?'” Irvin said. “Let’s go through this because this could be a two-week healthy dude missing games, and in this league, this ain’t the NBA. In this league that could be it for you. The right person misses two weeks, that’s it.” Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield at his youth football camp Wednesday did not confirm that he has been vaccinated, but certainly sounded that way when describing why — like Irvin — being vaccinated puts a player in an advantageous position. The invitation broke the strict protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Chilean Football Federation admitted. It said players would be fined and that no players or officials have tested positive. Fan attendance will continue to be one of the hottest issues within the NFL this season in addition to player health protocols, especially in the light of the past two weeks’ worth of schedule reshuffling that has seen multiple games moved around. While NFL officials did not rule out the idea of adding an extra week to the regular season, the idea of a playoff bubble does not have much traction at this point. The days of football coaches arriving in the early mornings of NFL facilities and staying until after dinner — even setting up cots for overnight naps in some extreme situations — may be a thing of the past after a season in which the league dramatically increased the use of virtual meetings for coaching staffs, front offices and players. But in today’s current climate, that also increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Arizona currently leads the country in COVID case rate and death rate, averaging nearly twice as many cases per 100,000 people than the U.S. average. First, there was the weight room. Well, you can’t really call it a weight room. It was one rack of weights and some yoga mats, thrown together in what could have been a small bedroom. Only after Oregon forward Sedonia Prince’s video went viral on social media with 16 million views, did the situation change. The Red Sox and Yankees played as scheduled Friday night, a day after the series opener was postponed due to New York’s six-player outbreak. Thursday’s game will be made up on Tuesday as part of a day-night doubleheader. The ability for that to happen at this year’s rescheduled Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo is looking less likely by the day. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay , however, made his frustrations known before camp even started. “Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer . “Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended. We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.” Fans from foreign countries will not be allowed to attend and competitors also are expected to avoid interacting with non-athletes when possible according to the IOC’s playbook ahead of the Games. Financially, the decision to not allow foreign fans all but ensures that Japan will sustain significant financial losses with the official cost for the Games at $15.4 billion, though two government audits suggest it might be twice that much. The only seeded British woman in the singles draw, No. 27 Johanna Konta , pulled out Sunday night after she had to self-isolate for 10 days because a member of her team tested positive for COVID-19 that morning. Konta was a 2017 semifinalist at Wimbledon but the All England Club’s chief executive on Monday said a prominent player withdrawal “is something that we had planned for and is not particularly unexpected.” “We’re excited to re-start the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup competitions in 2021 and continue to build on our partnership with Liga MX,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber . “We have seen the great rivalry that exists on the field between MLS and Liga MX clubs, and these events provide a unique opportunity for fans to see their club compete in meaningful international competition while creating enormous interest and attention for both leagues.” The WNBA announced on Monday that 99 percent of its players are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and all 12 teams have met the threshold for being fully vaccinated, leading the way among professional sports leagues when it comes vaccinating players. Mask wearing is “strongly encouraged” throughout the stadium and will be required in any enclosed spaces including club spaces, press box, retail store and other enclosed rooms. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide contactless payment options at all concessions and retail locations and stadium staff will be required to wear masks at all times. Munich said it could host just over 20 percent capacity at Olympic Stadium and was given a reprieve by UEFA. UEFA set each city a goal of at least 25 percent of capacity for the tournament. Russia gained more matches despite a Court of Arbitration for Sport ban on hosting world championships because UEFA is not bound by December’s ruling. Washington’s saga started last after one player tested positive for coronavirus, then three more, then nine others — including seven players and two staff members — were deemed close contacts. Borchers and Warren would not say where the daily testing is coming from or what the price of daily testing will be to the schools or the conference other than Warren saying all fall sports athletes will have the daily testing available to them. The league said that a plan for other fall sports would be announced shortly. “We must build an environment where people feel safe,” Muto said. “Athletes and the IOC family may require testing before/after entering Japan and strong medical systems around accommodation and transportation plans.” There may be no professional sport in the U.S. right now with as bitter a relationship between the league and players union as there is between MLB and the MLBPA, especially after last year’s fractured relationship nearly saw the season canceled. ESPN reports that the players’ main concern with this weekend’s offer was that the league will use it to try and grant Commissioner Rob Manfred increased power to cancel games and cut into players’ pay. The late notice toward a delayed spring training and season as players are preparing to head to team complexes obviously throws in another layer of frustration. The University of Georgia turned in a dominant defensive effort in college football’s most highly-anticipated season opener on Saturday night, shutting down Clemson in a 10-3 win at a raucous Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Athletes are advised to wear a mask at all times unless they are training, competing, eating or sleeping. They will also not be allowed to take public transportation, walk around the city or visit tourist areas, shops, restaurants bars or gyms. It turns out, one option may be that the NHL’s rivalries are about to get even more familiar than usual. “To me there is no more electric environment that we as NASCAR drivers can interact with and hear at Bristol,” said Chase Elliott , who won the race. “I know it was limited on how many people could come. Heck, it felt like they sure were making a lot of noise for only 30,000 people to be here, so that was pretty cool.” Masks will not be required outdoors at NASCAR events, most of which have been held without attendance restrictions this summer. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted COVID-19 restrictions in mid-June and Watkins Glen International announced three days later that its grandstands would be fully open to spectators. But the USOPC, in announcing its policy for the trials, made sure to emphasize that its policies do not apply to the rescheduled 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo and the USOPC made clear to athletes that it cannot “prevent … third parties from making statements or taking actions of their own, and that each Participant must make their own personal decision about the risks and benefits that may be involved.” Under MLS’ plan, the playoffs would start on November 19 with MLS Cup on December 11. Clubs will be permitted to open preseason training on February 22 and players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual trainings upon reporting to their clubs. Given the amount of questions raised after the celebration — there is no word yet on if the Dodgers must remain in their hotels in Arlington until they have all been given cleared by health authorities — it also brings to mind Turner’s role in trying to enforce safety protocols for his teammates earlier in the season to prevent any positive tests from coming into the clubhouse. Meanwhile, Rice will not start its season until October 24 after a spread of COVID-19 on campus and among the team. The Owls’ scheduled games on September 12 against Army, September 19 against LSU and September 26 against Lamar have been canceled; scheduled games on September 3 against Houston, October 3 against Marshall and October 10 against UAB have been postponed with the possibility of the games being rescheduled during open dates that may develop as the season goes along. But three of the four bowl games scheduled in California have been axed and the Tournament of Roses parade, a New Year’s Day tradition, was canceled earlier this year as well. With no serious Pac-12 contender this season there is also debate on social media whether teams that are located on the other side of the Mississippi River should be required to travel to the West Coast in the middle of a pandemic. The game was postponed once, then twice and rescheduled for December 2. The NFL waited for a round of testing two days prior to come back from Baltimore knowing if there were any new positives, “we would have had a week 18,” Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted on Thursday. “Our priority has been and will continue to be to act conservatively with an abundance of caution, understanding that there are many things about the transmission of COVID-19 that are still being discovered,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week. “As a result, we won’t hesitate to take additional measures as indicated by what we are learning and as directed by our medical advisers.” While the schedule will not change going forward should a team have to withdraw because of not enough players or coaches, what could force a schedule adjustment could be a deep run by BYU — which, should it reach the Sweet 16, is scheduled to play on Sunday, March 28. BYU school policy prohibits athletic competition on Sundays; in 2003, the selection committee scheduled BYU to play a Sunday game and had to adjust the schedule. This season’s biggest game of the year was going to be No. 1 Gonzaga against No. 2 Baylor in Indianapolis, one of the rare times that the top two teams in the AP Top 25 meet early in the season. And in a fashion befitting 2020, the game scheduled for last weekend was canceled because of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Zags’ program. Then, after Kelly’s public posturing, his desires were granted: The Rose Bowl, which started the whole concept of bowl games nearly a century ago and is both criticized by some who believe its tradition should not be bowed to and worshipped by those who believe its tradition is exactly why it should have special status, was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas . While the CFP took pains to say it was moving the game out of Pasadena, California, because of “the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California,” it would be remiss to note the COVID-19 positivity rate in L.A. County is 14.7 percent … compared to Tarrant County, Texas, where the positivity rate is 17 percent. But, because of the differences between state regulations in California and Texas, the game will have 16,000 fans instead of zero. Tampa Bay may be the best sports town in the United States right now. The will delay the start of all fall sports except football until at least September 1, the league’s board of directors have announced. The ACC’s football schedule is scheduled to start September 2 when North Carolina State visits Louisville. Teams in the German Bundesliga will be allowed a maximum of 25,000 for games. Germany’s 16 states will allow sports stadiums to admit fans at 50% capacity, up to a cap of 25,000 spectators. However, COVID-19 infection rates must not exceed 35 per 100,000 people over the previous seven days or a limit of 5,000 fans will be imposed. Only fans who can prove they have been vaccinated or can present a negative test will be allowed to attend. The Associated Press reported as of last Friday that Washington and Indianapolis were under 50 percent vaccinated among their players while 13 teams are above 85 percent threshold. Nearly three-quarters of the league’s players have gotten at least one shot. For their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5 as well as two exhibitions at the end of spring training against Milwaukee on March 29–30, Globe Life Field will be opened for up to 100 percent capacity. After the home opener, the stadium will be at a slightly reduced capacity, making certain sections of Globe Life Field available for “distanced seating” where more space will be allowed between occupied seats in those sections through the months of April and May. The controversy that erupted over the differences between controlled environments in San Antonio for the women compared to Indianapolis for the men reached a new stage on Wednesday when the Washington Post reported that 36 House Democrats demanded answers from Emmert in a letter while raising questions about the organization’s role in fueling inequity. Forward to a year later, and Silver’s traditional All-Star Game press conference last weekend was done over Zoom because of the still-ongoing pandemic and the league’s protocols for health and safety. Oakland conducted testing and contact tracing for its traveling party in line with MLB protocols and it will continue to self-isolate in Houston with recommended safety precautions in place. The postponement of the series comes after MLB and the players union announced that through the end of Thursday, then had in the latest round of COVID testing had 12,485 samples taken with seven positives — three players and four staff members. The league’s protocols say any person whose job or access requires them to be within 12 feet of players must be vaccinated. It would allow fully vaccinated and masked media members into the locker room for pre- and post-game interviews, the first professional league to make that distinction. While attendance policies may be adjusted, the weekend also brought news of a third positive COVID test for an arriving Olympian. This time it was a male rower from Serbia who tested positive after landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport Saturday night according to Takashi Ikeda , an official in Nanto, where Serbia’s athletes are scheduled to train, told Reuters. The man was sent to a medical facility and the other four members of the rowing team to a separate site. The Bahamas Bowl matchup this year was set to be Conference USA vs Mid-American Conference teams. The Hawaii Bowl was set to host a team from the Mountain West and a C-USA team. Some, but not all, Premier League teams were able to host a restricted number of home fans only during late November and early December before the country went back into lockdown as a winter surge of COVID-19 cases began. Gaming festival organizer DreamHack has postponed the remainder of its live events planned for 2020, including a show scheduled for Atlanta from November 13–15. Other shows affected were scheduled for Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Hyderabad, India; and Madrid. Now, the organizing committee’s attention has turned to transportation. “As we’ve seen millions across Georgia and the Southeast get vaccinated, public health restrictions have eased and that gives us the green flag to take a big step towards welcoming more people to enjoy race weekend,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison . “Needless to say, we can’t wait to have thousands of fans join us for some thrilling NASCAR action this summer.” “We expect you to play by the rules but if you don’t, yes, there are sanctions that may be coming your way,” said Pierre Ducrey , Olympic Games operations director. “Like not showing up for a test or not wearing masks or not respecting physical distancing. We will have and you will find that in the playbook the means to react.” When compared to the rest of the world, Japan has done fairly well in limiting the pandemic: It has 15,000 deaths and 820,000 cases since March 2020. New virus cases in Tokyo were reported at 830, up from 593 one week ago. It is the 24th straight day that cases were higher than seven days previous, with the Delta variant spreading fast throughout the country. And with only 18.5 percent of the population fully vaccinated through the weekend, the fear is without a state of emergency that cases will only increase. Nine scheduled FBS games have disrupted by positive COVID-19 tests among programs. The Nationals’ season-opening series at home against the New York Mets was called off after four players tested positive. The team was one of the first in MLB to have reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold, which allows for some of MLB’s coronavirus protocols to be relaxed. The World Cup is expected to return to those locations for the 2021–2022 season. The fans issue has come into greater focus after Wednesday’s report in the Japanese newspaper Mainichi that a decision has been made to not allow foreign fans — a report that the new president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee neither confirmed nor denied after online talks with IOC President Thomas Bach . “Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren . “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches and administrators.” Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines require two doses, are together supplying about 24 million doses a week, according to federal officials. President Joe Biden, who promised to have “100 million shots in the arms” of Americans by his 100th day in office, said Thursday that he was doubling the target. The Copa America, relocated to Brazil with less than two weeks’ notice because of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Argentina, announced that it has had 52 positive tests with not even one full week of the event completed. Brazil’s health ministry made the announcement, saying that 33 of the positives were players or staffers out of 3,045 COVID-19 tests conducted so far. For the first time this year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway intends to have fans in the stands at the IndyCar Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators will be allowed in the grandstands each day of of the race, which will be staged October 1–4. The limits are set by the Marion County Public Health Department. Fans from abroad have already been banned from attending and organizers have delayed a final decision on having fans at all at venues. Taro Kono , the minister in charge of vaccination in Japan, suggested this month that empty venues was an option. “The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt . “With the direction of the men’s basketball committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events. Even for a league as rich as the NFL, capacity attendance at games will have a big impact on revenue. Last year’s leaguewide attendance totaled 1.2 million, a 90 percent decrease compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 season. The event will be played at WinSport Arena at Canada Olympic Park with 10 teams competing. Teams will arrive in Calgary on August 10 and undergo mandatory quarantine. Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, was ready this spring to be the newest crown jewel for , a stadium that has a lower overall capacity for the Texas Rangers but with every bit of customer activation that one would possibly expect. The first collegiate sports league to cancel competition in the spring as the COVID-19 pandemic started is now the first to cancel its college basketball season before it even begins. The Ivy League announced on Thursday afternoon that all winter sports will be canceled as the coronavirus surges throughout the country more than ever before. That was supposed to be Tampa Bay’s showcase in early February, the region’s fourth time to host the game and first since 2009. Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson says the economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl can be up to $130 million — not near the public projections that host cities boast of, but certainly nothing to sneeze about. There are also the ancillary businesses that can get expanded recognition and business and word of mouth that can be a transformational moment. “It will not be the same as the last few years, but it will be the most significant international event with crowds that the world has seen in many, many months,” said Martin Pakula , sports minister for Victoria. One other outdoor sport that has the ability to socially distance fans is golf. While the PGA Tour’s California swing through San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open and this past weekend’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Golf Course in Los Angeles were held without fans, one of the year’s four majors has already announced it will have spectators. The 2021 PGA Championship will allow 10,000 fans  at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina each day from May 17–23, the PGA of America announced Tuesday. The number of daily spectators was decided upon with the help of South Carolina state officials, MUSC Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But for those who support the idea, the fact is that the NCAA has awarded cities hosting rights for the 2022–2026 basketball tournaments. About four dozen destinations spread throughout the United States will host some round of the men’s tournament between now and 2026 even beyond what the NCAA Women’s Tournament sites have been awarded. There are also coaches that don’t believe the single-site idea should last. The Atlanta Hawks will have 45 percent ­— in a market that has allowed fans most of the season — while the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, who waited months to welcome back fans, will have 30 percent capacity at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center — with a catch. On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that at least half of seating at both Knicks and Nets playoff games will be for vaccinated people — and fans in unvaccinated sections will have to continue obeying social distancing and masking guidelines. There has been outsized attention on the amount of professional and collegiate sports affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with leagues going into bubbles to finish their seasons, leagues enduring outbreaks to complete seasons and the collegiate landscape marred by outbreaks among teams even before the winter surge that many medical professional predicted began to form. The Cubs and White Sox will have to include new measures designed to comply with local mandates, including cashless concessions and merchandise sales. Everybody in attendance will be required to wear a mask. Accommodations for the trip will be organized by the Italian Federation at a cost of $721 per person, while a special section will be dedicated to these traveling fans to keep them separated at Wembley. The confirmed attendance comes after Tennis Australia in December set out an initial plan with a zone-based ticket scheme. Melbourne Park will be divided into three zones for the three biggest courts — Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena. After more than 18,000 meals served and 18 tons of laundry washed, the city of Indianapolis is able to look back and enjoy its standing as the host for the NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament’s controlled environment that saw Baylor lift its first national championship in school history. But while Orlando has had the most exposure in hosting bubble events, the protocols that it has set forth are seeking to be replicated by schools and other markets. While nothing is official, the University of Louisville is looking to host one ; so is Indianapolis with backing from the Indiana Sports Corp . “We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront,” the CIF said in a statement . The Pac-12 Conference, one of the two Power 5 leagues to announce that it will not be playing non-conference games this season in the fall, is on the verge of finalizing plans for a 10-game schedule in football. The news was first reported by the San Jose Mercury News. “I don’t know when normal will occur again and I don’t know if normal ever will happen again,” Goodell said. “I know this: We have learned to operate in a very difficult environment. We have found solutions. And we’ll do it again. That’s what we believe is a lesson for us this year … one of the most impressive things to me is hearing clubs and the NFLPA say our relationship has never been stronger. The trust that has been built here will help us going forward.” The Paralympics involve 4,400 athletes, plus 19,000 more in categories similar to the Olympic breakdown for a total of 23,400. That would make the combined total for both events 93,490, although Muto said 105,000 people might be the total number for the Olympics and Paralympics — a discrepancy that organizers could not clarify. Talladega Superspeedway will allow a reduced number of fans to attend its October 4 Cup Series playoff race, having hosted fans during a regular season race in June. Fans will not be allowed in frontstretch seating for the Xfinity and Truck Series doubleheader on October 3 and its garage experience will be closed. Some tracks have allowed a limited number of fans in recent weeks with Daytona having an estimated 20,000 fans last weekend. Saturday’s head-coaching duties for Alabama will fall to offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian . Saban will be able to continue to be part of the Tide’s preparations leading to Saturday’s game through video conferences and watching practice from his home. But in a show of the state of things in Tokyo, Adams was talking at the press conference last week because IOC President Thomas Bach was not able to enter the country because of the state of emergency. With an expanded schedule this year, the regular season will not end until January 9 and Super Bowl LVI will be played February 13, the latest in a calendar year that the NFL has ever finished its season. “We want to see every one of our fans back,” Goodell said. “We expect to have full stadiums in the coming season.” With less than 200 days from the rescheduled Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently declared a second state of emergency after another wave of COVID-19 cases throughout the country and expects to lift the emergency order on February 7. The moves, however, reinforce the size of the task the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers are trying to accomplish with a rescheduled Games. The tournament will feature 64 teams competing from March 21 through April 4. Six rounds featuring 63 games will be played using five venues and six courts in San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos, Texas, with the Alamodome hosting two courts. The NCAA is in discussions for games to be played at the following venues: Even during the end of the bubble experiment in Toronto and Edmonton, the league was determining how it would be able to organize a 2020–2021 season especially given the transnational travel involved in a typical season with the United States and Canada. Other factors include holding the season in a time of year that is expected to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and how to  maintain player health and safety in a sport that is known for its physicality. Because it did not have a World Cup scheduled during the pandemic, FIFA’s finances are in much better shape than most sports organizations. It projects total revenues of $6.44 billion from 2019 through 2022 ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp, with fully vaccinated players are given vast freedoms compared to non-vaccinated teammates, including not having to wear masks or undergo daily testing. “The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games,” the 49ers said in a statement. The USTA has recorded one positive result out of 1,400 tests as the governing body prepares to organize the Western & Southern Open and the U.S. Open in New York. The positive test was of a non-player who was among the 1,000 people in the USTA’s top tier of individuals in a controlled environment that largely has all parties staying in two hotels on Long Island when they are not playing. The league also must finish by May 23 so that players can be released to their national teams for summer events such as the rescheduled European Championship and Copa America, which begins June 11, as well as the CONCACAF Gold Cup which starts in July. There are differences between the professional and college sports scenes, obviously. While most pro sports leagues have been able to mandate coach vaccinations, that is not the case collegiately. When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that all teachers and school personnel in the state must be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment, most national attention mentioned one name prominently — Washington State football coach Nick Rolovitch , who has been public about his refusal to get vaccinated to the point that he virtually attended the Pac-12 Media Days in Los Angeles since having been vaccinated was one of the conditions for in-person attendance. And while the big news was about the start date in November, there is this important point: The NCAA is still planning for March Madness to proceed as scheduled. “USA Hockey is still scheduled to host the Chipotle USA Hockey National Championships across the country, including those tournaments in Texas,” the organization said in a statement. “Our number one priority is the safety of players, coaches, their families, volunteers and staff. With that in mind, our staff and volunteers are working diligently to put in place minimum safety requirements for all participants, in addition to local and state guidelines. Those details will be made available to everyone participating in Nationals in due time.” The league sent out another long policy document to teams about the issue of resting players , which has each season become an increasingly hot topic especially for fans who only get one chance to be at a game in person and want to see their favorite player on the court, not on the bench in a suit. One day after reports indicated that the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games in Tokyo would allow Japanese citizens to attend in a restricted number, the top medical adviser to Japan’s government is trying to reverse those leaks and said that no fans should be allowed for the country’s health. Japanese media have said for several weeks that a decision on the ban had already been reached, almost serving as a trial balloon to test national and international reaction. About 4.5 million tickets have been sold to Japan residents with 600,000 tickets sold to fans outside Japan. “The health and safety of you, our student-athletes and our staff will always be the top priority for Oregon Athletics,” the school said in an open letter to fans. “… These changes include new health and safety protocols developed in consultation with local health authorities, as well as the use of new technologies that will improve the gameday experience.” It was supposed to be a joyous moment for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and for Major League Baseball. The Dodgers streamed into a big dogpile to celebrate their first World Series title in more than three decades after beating the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. MLB was able to crown a champion to end a shortened season that contained plenty of harsh words leading to the modified Opening Day, then multiple COVID outbreaks on teams before getting into a groove that had it go 58 consecutive days without a positive test. One of the impacts, I believe, will be the NHL having to schedule games past Monday, May 10, which it had been able to avoid so far. But the schedule is so jammed in the second half, I think it's unavoidable for Montreal and Edmonton. Which will delay the start of the playoffs.— Pierre LeBrun March 23, 2021 Mickelson turned 50 this year and as such has the chance to use those events to practice for majors. Having won twice on the Champions Tour this year, Mickelson could compete at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix instead of the PGA event in Houston before heading to Augusta, Georgia. Mickelson has not announced what he will do but he did soften his original comments, saying to the Golf Channel about fans in Houston, “That’s not a deciding factor. I’m sure the Tour will do a great job of making it safe.” “We have the best fans in college football, and we are doing everything we can to ensure their experience in Tiger Stadium this fall is safe and enjoyable,” Woodward said. “When our fans arrive on Saturdays to cheer on the Tigers, they will have confidence that we have taken measures to mitigate their health risks. Our football team has reached 99.1% vaccination, and we are incredibly proud of them for doing their part to protect their team and their community. We are confident our fans will do the same, and I encourage all Tiger fans to receive vaccinations today.” “While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family,” World Rugby said in a statement. “The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. … The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand and challenging global travel restrictions.” Daily testing is already underway ahead of training camps opening next week. Among the protocols is that an “expected number” of cases would not require the league to suspend the season while any player who tests positive will have to sit out for 10 days and then be monitored for two additional days before being eligible to play. Warriors Owner Joe Lacob told ESPN that the franchise would spend “upward of $30 million” on costly rapid PCR tests to test fans, employees and players each day they come to the arena, which opened last year. Lacob told ESPN the team lost $50 million in revenue by not playing the final 17 games on its schedule last season and a full season without fans would cost the team another $400 million in revenue. Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile told the Daytona Beach News Journal about his track’s plans for the NASCAR season opener on February 14, promising “it’s going to be the largest sporting event that happens in the United States since COVID hit.” Friday’s announcement was the latest in a series of moves to have championships held at a single site by the NCAA, which already moved the Division I and Division II men’s basketball tournaments to Indianapolis and the women’s volleyball tournament to Omaha, Nebraska . The NCAA women’s regionals were scheduled for Austin; Albany, New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Spokane, Washington. “Our first Winter Dew Tour at Copper was a combination of teamwork, fun and progression,” said Courtney Gresik , Dew Tour vice president and general manager. “But the health and safety of the athletes, fans, partners and staff remain the priority. As we continue to monitor the state of COVID worldwide, and see the numbers continue to rise, we must make the difficult decision to postpone the event.” The Big 12 Conference , seen as a linchpin for the Power 5 college football landscape, released a revised 2020 schedule after agreeing the night before to proceed with plans for fall sports. The decision came late on a day where the Big Ten and Pac-12 both canceled fall sports and many saw a Big 12 decision as the last gasp to keep college football on the fall sports landscape; should the Big 12 had decided to cancel, it was believed that the ACC and SEC would likely follow. There will also be staffing issues that the USOPC will have to adjust to once there is clarity on how many people each delegation can have in Tokyo. “We have continued to experience an increase in positive tests over the course of this week,” Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said. “The health, safety and well-being of our student-athlete is our main concern, and our decisions on their welfare will continue to be guided by our medical staff.” “This decision was made as a result of an ongoing conversation with local government and public health officials and a review of the latest COVID-19 data and guidance,” said Mark Hart , Tepper Sports & Entertainment vice president and chief operating officer. “As we have done throughout this season, we look forward to providing a safe and enjoyable game day experience for all those in attendance.” “If the situation is tough and it would make the consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” Seiko Hashimoto said, adding that a decision on foreign fans would come by the end of March. “We are eager to return to hockey, but at this time we believe this decision is prudent for the safety of our Players, Employees and Fans,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin . “The ECHL and our Board of Governors are focused on the 2020-21 Season and remain optimistic for the safe reopening of our venues across the continent.” The question is if every team feels as confident. “We look forward to welcoming fans back to the 500 in person. Our outdoor facility is mammoth, and with attendance of about 25 percent, it will certainly look different this year,” said Miles. “We want to demonstrate that even under current circumstances, people can gather with carefully planned procedures in place so we don’t have to go back to shutting down our country and our community.” Bristol Motor Speedway brought in 2,300 truckloads of red Tennessee clay to cover the track. But even before the rain started, there were ominous signs for the Cup Series. Asahi said the no-spectators policy could apply to events after 9 p.m. and to larger venues where 50 percent of capacity exceeds 5,000. Organizing committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said two weeks ago that VIPs would be allowed into venues no matter the spectator cap because they were “organizers” and not spectators. The ability of fans for the lower-seeded teams to travel to multiple bowl games could be an issue; a fifth-seeded Notre Dame, for example, would have one home game but then potentially as many as three additional games. The subcommittee seemed not to worry too much; “there’s a pretty good alternative right in your living room if you don’t want to travel to the games,” Bowlsby quipped, perhaps not the smartest thing to say given that even before the pandemic, fan attendance throughout college football was in the midst of a historic decline. The number of positive tests on the Titans increased on Saturday as ESPN reported there are now eight on the team’s roster who have COVID-19 in addition to eight staffers. The women’s tournament field was unveiled Monday night and one of the four No. 1 seeds, powerhouse Connecticut, will have to get through the first weekend’s games without its legendary coach. One team that definitely is not at 85 percent vaccinated is the Chicago Cubs and that has left one of its top executives unhappy. Cubs President Jed Hoyer told ESPN last week that “it’s disappointing to not be at 85 percent as a team. We’ve worked hard to try and convince or educate the people that have been reluctant. We’re at a place right now — I’m not going to give up hope we’re going to get there — my level of optimism is waning.” While a two-week break would in theory help for the league in trying to get cases under control, there is the competitive issue of a schedule already pressed tighter than a hot panini sandwich. Tottenham Hotspur has played as many as three matches in a five-day period earlier this season and the holiday period in England is traditionally the most hectic point of the season with all teams playing at least three times in 10 days. The WNBA playoff schedule will be undergoing adjustments as while Game 1 of one semifinal series was being held on Sunday afternoon, the other semifinal Game 1 between Seattle and Minnesota was postponed after inconclusive COVID-19 test results for players from the Storm. The LPGA Tour called off all four events of its Asia swing scheduled for South Korea in October and Japan in November, citing quarantine requirements with crossing country borders. Tournaments in China and Taiwan had already been called off. Sixty-five players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since training camps opened, according to the NFLPA, including 32 vaccinated individuals. The Washington Post reported that the NFLPA told membership this week that it will propose re-tightened protocols including that vaccinated players and staffers be tested for the coronavirus each day they enter a team facility. The city of Indianapolis is likely to be the sole host for the NCAA Tournament in March, in part because the ability to have games at multiple sites with the indication that it would be able to do so in a safe fashion. Only essential racing personnel and horsemen will be permitted on-site on race day. Existing ticket holders who have purchased tickets will have the option to either transfer their tickets to next year’s Preakness or to apply for a full refund. The fans went home disappointed after Nicolas Roy converted a rebound 1:18 into overtime and the Golden Knights scored a win, tying the playoff series at 2-all and regaining home-ice advantages as the Canadiens try to become the first team from north of the border to make the Stanley Cup finals since Vancouver in 2011 — and becoming the first team from Canada to win the Stanley Cup since Montreal did back in 1993, an almost unfathomable 23 years ago. The first Big Ten cancellation of the weekend was also announced as Maryland football will pause all team-related activities due to an elevated number of COVID-19 cases within the program, forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s game against powerhouse Ohio State. Eight players within the program have tested positive for coronavirus in the past seven days. If the amount of tournaments in various countries sounds ambitious given the different restrictions in travel and entrance requirements for countries throughout the world, that’s because it is. Two prominent men’s players, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev , have both suggested the tours are taking on more than they can handle and a different path is needed. The Trials were originally scheduled for April 4–5 at University Park, Pennsylvania, before USA Wrestling moved the event to Fort Worth. When USA Wrestling announced that the Trials would be relocated, it cited COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and the desire to accommodate participants, staff and fans; on Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf allowed indoor venues to host sporting events with fans at 15 percent of capacity. In an ideal second half, the NBA will finish the second half on May 16, with the 2021 Play-In Tournament between teams in each conference in seeding spots Nos. 7–10 playing for the seventh and eighth playoff seeds. Should the NBA Finals go the full seven games, the season will finish on July 22 — one day before the scheduled Opening Ceremonies at the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games. Statements released last week by Ambrosie and Garcia did not reference the possibility of a merger but the leagues have been linked in history. “We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being,” Huskies Coach Randy Edsall said in the news release. “Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season.” Then again … the chances of said criticism lessening once the Games get underway may not be very high. The postponed games involving Colorado are the first that MLS has had to move because of COVID-19 since it returned to playing matches in home markets. Both FC Dallas and Nashville SC had a run of positive tests ahead of the MLS is Back tournament that ultimately forced both teams to withdraw from the tournament in July that was held at a bubble environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. Under the plan, up to 550 players and their entourages would fly into Melbourne starting in mid-December, where they will be restricted to hotels or a tennis court until they have completed two weeks of quarantine. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told the Herald Sun that the tournament, scheduled from January 18–31, hopes to have at least 25 percent crowd capacity. That leaves 17 teams that will not have fans for at least the home opener, although each of those teams have not ruled out future attendance. Some have already gotten plans underway, with the Cincinnati Bengals given allowance by the state of Ohio to have up to 6,000 fans for its home games in October. The New Orleans Saints hope to have up to 25% capacity for a September 27 home game. Matches will be held at two stadiums in Lisbon for the tournament, which was suspended in March. The quarterfinals will be held August 12–15, with the semifinals on August 18–19. Four teams have already advanced to the quarterfinals before the round of 16 was suspended; the remaining round of 16 home-and-home matches will be held August 7-8 but it has not yet been decided if they will also be in Portugal. England’s group stage games have been played in front of 22,000; plans were already approved for the second of two round of 16 games at Wembley to have 40,000 in attendance. To enter Wembley, fans have to produce a negative test result or proof of vaccination. All four top seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 in dominant fashion on Tuesday, but three of the other four games saw the lower-seeded team upset a higher-seeded team. Michigan made the Sweet 16 for the first time ever — could more new names get through today? Will traditional powerhouses reassert their dominance instead? We will have to wait and see … and focus on the court, not off. Brazil agreed to host the tournament less than two weeks before it was due to begin after Argentina withdrew due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Organizers said the Copa would be “the safest sporting event in the world” but on Saturday the overall death toll in South America’s biggest nation passed 500,000, the most in any country in the world other than the United States. Yasutoshi Nishimura , the minister in charge of coronavirus response, told a COVID-19 subcommittee governmental meeting on Wednesday that the plans for attendance at events such as sports and concerts in July and August were to cap attendance at 50 percent or 5,000 people, whichever was greater. But given the size of some of the Olympic venues — the National Stadium, where the Opening Ceremony will be held, seats 68,000 — an adjustment down to 10,000 maximum was recommended. Even then, spectators will face limits in the venues. Masks will be required at all times; speaking in a loud voice or shouting will be prohibited; and visitors will be expected to leave venues in a staggered manner. Spectators will also be requested to travel directly to venues and return home directly, and to take all necessary precautions when moving between regions around the venues. The National Hockey League already has five teams mandating vaccinations for fans to attend games this season — and now players know what the protocols for the 2021–2022 season will be based upon their vaccination status. “The 2021 March Madness schedule is primarily a function of the health and safety protocols for all participants, respecting conference tournaments, balancing time away from campus for college student-athletes, competitive considerations for a national championship and fan engagement during a relatively traditional tournament timetable,” said Dan Gavitt , the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. The Rams’ debut season at SoFi Stadium, the most highly anticipated sports venue opening in several years , will be played with a limited number of fans at most and the team announced to stadium seat license holders that “season tickets will not be possible for the 2020 season.” Season tickets will be deferred to the 2021 season with SSL holders given priority for games this year if fans are allowed in. Previous single game ticket purchases and transferred tickets will be canceled. The first game at SoFi Stadium would be the Rams’ season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13. After a regular season unlike any other in its long, rich history, Major League Baseball will take a step toward the more familiar today when all 30 teams start the 2021 season with an Opening Day celebration that harkens all the nostalgic feelings about the spring and summer to come and long nights at the ballpark. It is the second week that the league has further tightened protocols in an attempt to get the rest of the regular season completed amid surging case numbers across the country. The league says they have had 108 positive tests among players and staff in the past two testing periods; in the 11 previous periods, there were 146 cases. Like a game of whack-a-mole, the National Football League is taking each week and throwing games into new days and time slots to try and make sure that it stays on track in spite of an outbreak among the Tennessee Titans that refuses to dissipate — as well as two positive tests to star players on the New England Patriots. The Washington Post also reported that according to the CDC, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine the Yankees received “was 66.3 percent effective in clinical trials at preventing laboratory-confirmed covid-19 illness” while a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found the J&J vaccine becomes more effective after four weeks than two. At defending national champions LSU , where attendance is restricted to a maximum of 25,580, the team’s season opener had an announced attendance of 21,124 in a loss to Mississippi State. But for upcoming home games, the school has announced that a medical wellness check will not be required for fans “to reduce lines and wait times at gate entry points.” College hockey’s Ice Breaker Tournament, a major opening weekend event that traditionally brings together four of the biggest names in the sport, will be postponed to 2021. The tournament was scheduled be hosted by the University of Minnesota-Duluth and also include the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University-Mankato and Providence College. The rescheduled event will be held October 9–10, 2021 with all of the teams except for Minnesota still participating. The International Tennis Federation has announced that the 2020 Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals will be postponed until 2021, and that the 2020 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals will be rescheduled for 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. Among the moves was England’s Liverpool playing Germany’s RB Leipzig in Budapest, Hungary, after German authorities refused to let Liverpool enter the country because of the British strain of COVID-19. Budapest will host a game next week between two more teams from those two countries with Manchester City plays Borussia Mönchengladbach. “We’ve been tested every day for the past three weeks, but within the past 48 hours we’ve received multiple positive tests,” VCU Coach Mike Rhoades said. “We are devastated for our players and coaches. It has been a dream for all of us to play in the NCAA Tournament.” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has already begun trying to lay the public pressure on players, telling a Hofstra University business school event in September he hopes the expanded postseason “will become a permanent part of our landscape.” The reason, frankly, is money: More postseason games means more revenue from TV deals such as the one discussed with ESPN. And with the CBA ending after the 2021 season, Major League Baseball will be like every other sports league in trying to use as many different avenues — more games, advertising, etc. — to financially over-perform in the future and overcome the losses of 2020. Dr. Allen Sills , NFL Chief Medical Officer, said “nothing is off the table” in an NFL Network interview on Wednesday after the latest positives on the Titans — bringing the total up to 21 positive tests since September 24, including 11 players — as well as a positive test confirmed by Patriots defensive back Stephon Gilmore . Thursday morning brought reports of more positives on the Titans , increasing the odds that Sunday’s scheduled game against the Buffalo Bills may not happen as well. And bowl season, within days of beginning, has proven to be as inconsistent to keep track of. The Guaranteed Rate, Independence, Military, and Birmingham bowls were canceled. Two new bowls in Boston and Los Angeles did not get off the ground and if you’ve never heard of the Montgomery Bowl, don’t worry about it — the game was created out of nowhere to fill in ESPN’s schedule and bowl inventory and is a one-time event. For other events, the wait is ongoing — everything from the Battle4Atlantis, which may end up in South Dakota but is at risk because one of its committed schools, Duke University, could try to form its own bubble event at a different site. But the general assumption throughout college basketball is that if there is an early-season tournament for teams to be a part of, almost assuredly it will end up in Orlando, given the market’s ability to host events in a secure environment. “We don’t see the bubble as I think most of you refer to it as, where we’re all in one location and we’re isolating entirely,” Goodell said. “We feel strongly that our protocols are working. As we’ve demonstrated over the last several weeks, we’re willing to adjust those protocols, adapt those protocols, take additional steps that we think might be meeting the environmental circumstances that we’re dealing with in our communities.” The NHL has postponed all Canadiens games through March 28, the first time that any games has had to be postponed in the league’s realigned North Division that is made up of the NHL’s seven Canadian teams. The postponements, in addition to the others that have happened, makes the playoffs’ originally scheduled start date unlikely. While he added that the league must decide soon because of the need to make sure the 2021–2022 schedule is ready, there are multiple facets into a final move. On one hand, there is the ability to make a big step into the Chinese market; on the other hand, the willingness of shutting down the league for two weeks for games not played in prime time in the U.S., plus negotiations with the International Ice Hockey Federation over marketing rights. With coronavirus surging throughout the state , most California public and private schools will begin the academic year with online classes. High school football practice was scheduled to begin Aug. 3 but now will have its regional bowl games held by April 17 at the latest. Given the state’s enormous depth and breadth of talent in many scholastic sports, the calendar changes will not only make some multi-sport athletes choose one team or the other, it will also inevitably lead to a gigantic scramble for colleges looking to recruit and evaluate athletes. Both the Munich city council and German LGBTQ activists requested the move in protest at legislation passed by Hungary’s parliament banning gay people from featuring in school educational materials or TV shows for under-18s. Multiple clubs in Germany have been lighting up their stadiums the past 24 hours in rainbow colors and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter reportedly plans to illuminate a wind turbine opposite the stadium in rainbow colors. Major European clubs such as Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus also tweeted support, adding rainbow colors as a backdrop to their club logos. “Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said after meeting with IOC and Japanese organizers on Thursday. “You get vaccinated. It’s the best choice,” Irsay said. “… you could take this topic to Harvard and Yale debate club, and whoever got the side of arguing that vaccination is the most intelligent and logical thing to do at this point, I don’t think you could argue against that. There is always risk in everything in life, but getting vaccinated is the right thing to do.” • The World Games , an international multisport competition expected to attract more than 3,600 athletes from 100 countries to Birmingham, Alabama , has been rescheduled from 2021 to 2022—a consequence of the rescheduling of the Olympic Summer Games . The new dates will be July 7–17, 2022. Being able to finish their regular season — albeit in a shortened fashion in the bubbles — before going to the postseason with new formats to match what has been a unique year was the goal for both leagues. Both of them have had the longest stretches of bubbles for a pro league. The decision comes after organizers of the World Cup confirmed last week that the event would go ahead as scheduled starting October 23. Australia is the defending champion. The ACC started the season with a model that allowed each team to play 10 conference games and one non-conference game. The league has had nine canceled games this season overall, two of them involving Florida State — one of those was against Clemson, a game canceled less than three hours before the scheduled kickoff, which still irks Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney . When the NBA season started, there were less than a half-dozen teams allowing fans, with giant sponsor tarps covering up empty seats and atmosphere, such as it was, piped in through the loudspeakers. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told The Canadian Press that “we felt confident we could take this decision, which will allow Canadians to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, namely playoff hockey, while at the same time keeping everyone healthy and safe.” The National Hockey League will have a lot of rivalry games this season, as an abbreviated 56-game season will start on January 13 with division-only play and a revamped setup of divisions based on regional scheduling highlighted by an all-Canadian division. Training camps for NBA teams start on September 28 for the 75th anniversary season starting October 19 with the Nets playing at the Milwaukee Bucks and the Warriors playing at the Los Angeles Lakers. The memo said players on the three teams may face fines or suspensions if they refuse to get vaccinated without a valid exemption. Cai emphasized strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during a tour of venues this week and said each must adopt their own specific measures. Cai did not say whether general spectators would be permitted in the stands; while the decision for Tokyo organizers was made after months of drawn-out leaks and postponed announcements, there is widespread anticipation that any decision would be made swiftly by Beijing organizers. The 2020 season was scheduled to have five international games with one in Mexico City and four in London, two at Wembley and two at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium; those games were cancelled because of COVID with all games being played at NFL team stadiums, meaning an extra home game for the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. Goodell said during Super Bowl week in February the NFL intends to resume international play in 2021; while the league no longer has an agreement to play at Wembley, it signed a 10-year agreement in 2021 to have at least two games per season at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. With all the controversy raging off the field, in normal times the chance to have bowl games would be almost the easy part. But because we are in the middle of a global pandemic, the rest of the Bowl Season admits that game organizers are walking a tight rope at this point hoping for games to be played. The first bowl game was actually supposed to be played on Saturday, the Tropical Smoothie Frisco Bowl — but, in echoes of what this whole season has been like, the matchup between SMU and UTSA was canceled after contact tracing in the Mustangs’ program left them with an insufficient number of players. UTSA will instead play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on December 26 against a yet-to-be determined opponent . “The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.” Thursday’s games in the Europa League include Spain’s Real Sociedad “hosting” England’s Manchester United in Italy; England’s Tottenham is visiting Austrian club Wolfsberg in Hungary and Norway’s Molde plays Germany’s Hoffenheim in Spain. Both games in a home-and-home series between England’s Arsenal and Portugal’s Benfica have been moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and Olympiacos’ stadium in Piraeus, Greece, respectively. But with case numbers surging throughout the world and fears of a second wave well underway throughout Europe, those plans have been put back on the shelf. The  English Premier League has only been allowed to continue through a special dispensation as the United Kingdom enters a new national lockdown through early December that will close non-essential businesses and restrict the movement of people. The NCAA men’s basketball committee even reminded conferences of the February 26 deadline to make clear how their respective champions would be determined. But it did not say that postseason tournaments would be the sole way for automatic qualifiers to be crowned. The form will include whether a league determines its automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournaments via a conference tournament or a regular-season champion. Traditional SEC-ACC matchups such as South Carolina vs. Clemson, Kentucky vs. Louisville, Florida vs. Florida State and Georgia vs. Georgia Tech will be disrupted by the decision. The poll surveyed 1,554 adult respondents with a margin of error of 3.2 percent. It is not the first time that Gonzaga has had COVID-19 issues this season; the team played on November 27, beating Auburn in a tournament in Fort Myers, Florida, the day after a staff member tested positive. “There was a reason why we postponed it,” Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said. “They did the best that they could, but the sun was beating down on it a little bit too much. It was melting the ice. … I think the league did the right thing in postponing it. When we came back, the ice was great.” But back to one of the tournaments that will be finished on Sunday — not in Las Vegas, but St. Louis. The Missouri Valley Conference is known as one of the strongest mid-major conferences in college basketball and any team that gets an NCAA Tournament bid, automatic or at-large, is almost always listed as a Cinderella to watch. What may be even more impressive than any March run by an MVC team is this: According to Wichita Eagle reporter Taylor Eldridge, the Missouri Valley was the only Division I conference to get every  matchup in this season, either regularly scheduled or rescheduled. By now, even a casual sports fan has heard about the self-inflicted issues the NCAA has faced from the disparity in weight rooms to even the use of the trademark “March Madness” compared to “NCAA Women’s Basketball.” Emmert has ordered an independent review to be concluded by the summer; the Washington Post reported that 36 House Democrats demanded answers about student-athlete treatment in San Antonio in a letter to Emmert while raising questions about the organization’s role in fueling inequity after there were also issues with gift bags for the two tournaments, food options and the type of COVID-19 testing. The same look went viral multiple times on social media as the University of Georgia hosted Auburn in the weekend’s marquee game on the schedule. While the Bulldogs won handily, what was discussed just as much was the conduct of the announced crowd of 20,504 — below the school’s cap of 23,180 for this season. The NCAA Division I baseball committee around 2 a.m. EST on Saturday, in the overnight hours before a winner-take-all bracket final between North Carolina State and Vanderbilt, declared the game a no contest due to COVID-19 protocols in the Wolfpack program, putting the Commodores into the CWS championship round in Omaha, Nebraska. The latest Division I conference to cancel fall sports is the Big East, which said it will look at a future date to determine if men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball and field hockey can be played in the spring. The decision was made in consultation with the league’s COVID-19 Task Force. Decisions on winter and spring sports schedules will be made at a later time. New infections in Tokyo are down to around 500 cases a day from 1,000 a month ago, according to The Associated Press. And on Tuesday, the CDC took Japan off its highest travel advisory list, moving the county to Level 3 on its risk chart. Level 3 is a warning that there are still high amounts of COVID cases in the country. But at the country’s previous Level 4, the CDC was advising against any and all travel to Japan. Not only is the policy surrounding close contacts stricter for the British Open than regular PGA Tour events, the number of people that players are allowed to bring was tightly controlled. Those who compete are allowed to have a caddy and two other support personnel with them. Players are allowed to have one family member attend and that person must go through a five-day quarantine to attend the event; players do not have to quarantine but the four approved people traveling with them must show negative COVID tests. Spring training opens February 17 with the season starting on April 1 after the union rejected a MLB proposal to delay spring training and shorten the regular season to 154 games from the normal 162. Last season’s start was delayed by COVID-19 until July 23 with a 60-game season played by most but not all teams after several games early in the season were postponed because of outbreaks among teams, notably the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. Overall there were 45 games postponed with two between St. Louis and Detroit not made up. There were 56 doubleheaders, the most since 76 in 1984. “I actually think it’s going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we’re doing now and what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans,” said Brady, whose Buccaneers team is one of two in the league with a 100 percent player vaccination rate. “It’s not like last year, although we’re getting tested like last year. It’s going to be, I definitely think guys are going to be out at different points and we’ve just got to deal with it.” “We all understand the protocols,” McCarthy said. “I addressed it in the locker room after the game. We have everybody going through the proper testing both yesterday and today and we’ll do so again tomorrow.” A few days after the International Olympic Committee made it clear that the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games will be held in Tokyo, the United States State Department and federal health officials warned Americans against traveling to Japan because of a recent COVID-19 surge in the country. “This is the highest we’ve been since fall camp right now,” Smart said. “I think there’s this relief that you guys feel like everything’s back to normal, well it’s really just not for us right now.” The tour instead added a second LPGA Drive On Championship scheduled for October 22–25 on the Great Waters Course in Greensboro, Georgia. Two events on two continents will be having up to 30,000 fans in attendance in the coming month — the Daytona 500 in Florida and the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences have announced no non-conference play for football and other fall sports this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other Power 5 leagues such as the SEC, Big 12 and ACC are still working on their models for the season. “The Canadian Olympic Committee has confidence that the Games can be staged safely and successfully given what has been learned in sport over the last several months and the emphasis the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee have placed on COVID-19 countermeasures,” Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker said in a statement that surely resonates throughout the IOC community since it was the first country in 2020 to announce that it would not send athletes to Tokyo. So while every professional league could be forgiven for looking toward 2021 thankful that it was past 2020, Major League Baseball may have ranked at the top of that list. Yet now, with about a month to go before spring training would be starting in cities throughout Arizona and Florida, the Cactus League has asked for a delay — while also telling ESPN that they will host teams if MLB starts on schedule and ignores the request. Cincinnati will not have two events, but it will have its joint ATP and WTA event back after last year’s tournament was held in New York City under a “bubble” environment. The tournament organizers in Mason, Ohio, said they will also have full capacity for the event that starts August 14. The two tours then split again with the men going to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the women going to the new event in Cleveland, Tennis in the Land, before the U.S. Open starts August 30 in New York City. Morehouse College in Atlanta has become one of the first universities to announce it will not play football in the fall. In an open letter , university President David Thomas , said the historically Black college would not participate in any NCAA or Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Division II sports this fall. The move also affects the school’s cross-country team. All athletic scholarships will still be honored, he said. But regardless of what happened on the field, off-field machinations dominated a lot of the discussion. What has for decades been a 162-game season was shortened to 60 games, with the St. Louis Cardinals not even reaching that total because of an early-season outbreak inside the clubhouse. The playoffs were expanded, new rules were put in — some temporary, some perhaps becoming permanent — but the acrimony between MLB management and the players union before games got underway was the focus of national attention. It was only MLB’s luck that once the World Series ended, most of the attention was focused on the Dodgers’ Justin Turner testing positive for COVID-19 on the night of the clinching game and still coming out to celebrate a championship with his teammates. While vaccines will not be required for athletes or any of the delegations planning to be in Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, the International Olympic Committee has nonetheless been encouraging everyone involved to get their shots. Potentially having no Rose Bowl game would be another blow to the Rose Bowl Operating Company’s financial state. The Pasadena City Council earlier this summer approved $11.5 million in debt payments to help cover costs from a decade-long renovation. While perhaps not at the forefront of many sports fans’ minds, the Professional Bull Riders started up action in 2020 within six weeks of initially suspending events , having three events in Guthrie, Oklahoma, with the entire tour spread out over two acres with food and necessities delivered to the venue. Organizers were also questioned about player vaccination and testing. This year, players and support team members will be tested upon arrival, and then every four days after that during the tournament. Allaster said no matter what round — whether it be the first or a championship match — “in the event that an athlete tests positive, that athlete will be taken out of the competition.” Dallas offensive lineman Zack Martin will miss the season opener after he tested positive on Sunday and landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Martin is vaccinated but per the NFL’s updated protocols this season, he has to wait for five days before returning to his team if he does not have symptoms following two negative tests separated by 24 hours. After the August 16 event, the Cup Series will have a doubleheader on August 22–23 at Dover International Speedway before returning to Daytona’s oval on August 29. The National Hockey League’s 2021—22 schedule has multiple notable games but perhaps what stands out the most is the stretch where the league has no games scheduled at all. In the Southeastern Conference, the saying goes, it just means more. Vaccination incentives agreed to by the league and NFLPA are significant. Fully vaccinated players and personnel are not subject to daily testing, mask-wearing requirements, contact-tracing quarantines, travel restrictions or weight-room capacity limits. But unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat with teammates, may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling — and players who violate protocols can be fined up to $50,000. The NCAA will not conduct any of its fall championships, a move that impacts 22 sports as well as the FCS football championship. In a video posted to Twitter, NCAA President Mark Emmert said the fact that less than 50 percent of schools will be competing in those sports met a threshold to cancel the championship events. The decision does not include major college football, which is organized separately from the NCAA. The idea of requiring vaccination is welcomed by a majority of fans; a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted in late May showed that 53 percent of those polled agree that sports teams should require fans to show proof of vaccination. The number went up to 60 percent in favor of such a requirement among sports fans and to 71 percent for avid fans. The Maine Mariners also pointed to the economic difficulties of having a season without the revenue that would normally come from having fans in attendance along with things such as local sponsorships. In that state, the department of health and human services has reduced its indoor gathering limit to 50 people. Smith and Goodell, opponents in previous labor negotiations and with a relationship that could have been described as antagonistic, shared the dais for a few minutes Thursday and looked like a buddy-buddy movie, cracking wise about their previous dust-ups. Between hosting the virtual draft in his basement and getting the season completed on time, Goodell has seen his public approval ratings rise perhaps more than any other league commissioner in professional sports. New England at L.A. Rams: No fans were allowed The NWHL began its two-week bubble season with high hopes. Six teams were set to play in Lake Placid, New York, the league secured several new sponsors and its Isobel Cup playoff games were to be broadcast live on NBCSN for the first time. Social media was ablaze on Tuesday as reports that Ohio State, less than a week ahead of its national championship game against Alabama, was experiencing COVID-19 issues and that the game scheduled for January 11 in Miami Gardens, Florida, would have to be postponed. Vaccinations — or a negative test within 48 hours of tipoff — will be required for fans to attend either Chicago Bulls or Chicago Blackhawks games at the United Center, the venue announced on Thursday morning. “The NAIA realizes there are a wide range of considerations that come with postponing fall championships,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr . “However, our first priority is making sure our student-athletes are not penalized by this decision. That will likely require temporary rule changes and accommodations as related to eligibility and seasons of competition, which the NAIA governance groups will begin further defining this week.” The AHL and ECHL, like every other minor league in the United States, are much more reliant on revenue that comes from ticket sales, local sponsorships and having fans in attendance. While major leagues such as the NHL were able to complete seasons in a controlled bubble environment, the AHL and ECHL cancelled its seasons and did not have its respective playoffs because for many teams, the financial challenges of sustaining play without fans was substantial. Several of the league’s prominent coaches including Alabama’s Nick Saban , LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Mississippi’s Lane Kiffin have been publicly supporting vaccination. Kiffin made national news promoting his Rebels team as being 100 percent vaccinated in a state where only 34 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and multiple field hospitals have opened because of a surge of COVID patients. While Kiffin promotes the need for vaccines, the state medical center’s leader, LouAnn Woodward , says the situation in Mississippi is a “disaster of our own making. … We as a state, as a collective, have failed to respond in a unified way to a common threat, we have failed to use the tools that we have to protect ourselves.” The NHL’s 2021-22 regular season starts October 12 with a doubleheader of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning against Pittsburgh, followed by the debut of the Seattle Kraken’s first NHL game ever at the Vegas Golden Knights. Saturday has been a date the National Football League has been looking forward to for a while. It has promoted the day as “Back Together Saturday” with all 32 teams having some sort of fan event to celebrate the return of the preseason after a year in which fans, for the most part, were kept away from NFL action because of COVID-19. In a memo obtained by CNBC and multiple other outlets, the NBA told its teams that players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors must be fully vaccinated to play in home games unless they are able to get an exemption for medical or religious reasons — but players on visiting teams will not face the same requirement. At the same time, Meyer may have only slipped in saying publicly what many coaches are thinking privately. One coach, though, steadfastly refused to say if vaccinations had any part to play in roster cuts and that one is to nobody’s surprise — Patriots coach Bill Belichick , who faced questions after releasing Cam Newton on Wednesday, one week after the quarterback was out for five days due to NFL health and safety protocols over what was termed a “misunderstanding” that led many to believe that Newton is not vaccinated. “I wanted nothing more than to smash the ‘Big Dosser’ on July 24, but I guess the beating will have to wait,” Fury said. “Make no mistake, I will be back and better than ever. We will fight Oct. 9 and I will knock him spark out!” Monday’s Game Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed The playoffs this year will be expanded to 24 teams from the traditional 16, with an eight-team qualifying round and a round-robin competition among the league’s top four teams to determine seeding for the official First Round. The top four teams in each conference will play each other once to determine the order of the top four seeds in the first round of the playoffs while at the same time, a qualifying round will also go on in each conference. The round-robin games will be played with regular season rules regarding overtime and shootouts, while the qualifying round games will be played with playoff overtime rules. Spring sports competition remains intact with minor adjustments. All championship dates are subject to change based on championship facility availability. It is the second game scheduled for this weekend that has been postponed because of positive tests on a team after the scheduled for Sunday between Tennessee and Pittsburgh was postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Titans. The chief executive of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games has told the BBC that the rescheduled event next summer could be held with “a limited number of spectators,” according to the BBC . “The USTA understands the rationale for cancelling the Citi Open at this time,” said the governing body in a statement. “This decision in no way impacts the U.S. Open or the Western & Southern Open. … We constantly base our decisions regarding hosting these tournaments on our three guiding principles that include safety and health of all involved, whether hosting these events are in the best interest in the sport of tennis and whether this decision is financially viable. We are confident we remain in-line with all three guiding principles.” The National Hockey League, still deciding how to proceed with the coming season including when the campaign would begin, has announced the postponements of the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic scheduled for Minneapolis and 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Sunrise, Florida. The promotion will start a 25-city tour in July with three shows in Texas, starting July 16 at Houston’s Toyota Center before going to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 18 and then American Airlines Center in Dallas on July 19. Dates and venues beyond July 19 will be announced at later dates. NASCAR is adjusting its health protocols beginning with this weekend’s events at Watkins Glen International in New York as the auto racing series is requiring all personnel wear a mask in enclosed areas at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Indianapolis Motor Speedway had approximately 135,000 in attendance on May 30 for the Indy 500 after it outlined safety procedures for the MCPHD’s approval. Having 19 positives means that 0.0014 percent of the attendees were affected. Caine did not say if there were any additional infections related to the 19 cases but that the department worked with other health departments in the state to track cases. The NBA All-Star Weekend traditionally is multiple days of parties, sponsor activations and the actual game itself is the least important part of the event. Destinations that host the event get a giant boost in sports tourism revenue as celebrities flock to parties at the most exclusive spots in town. “These tests will give us the first epidemiological profile of COVID-19 in the elite athlete population,” said USOPC Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Finnoff . “We want to know how prevalent the virus is, but we also want to know how an athlete’s body will respond.” The Champions Tour and LPGA Tour have had fans in limited quantities at events already, but this would be the first time for the PGA Tour since the pandemic began in the spring. The event that follows the Bermuda Championship, the Houston Open, has said it would allow fans as well at what will be the final event before a unique Masters held in November instead of the spring — that event will not have fans, or patrons in Masters-speak, at the course. “We’ve urged players to get the vaccine,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told reporters in June. “We’ve urged them to make sure that they just make a decision that’s informed.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to fans that laid out the issues that the 2020 season will bring, with many teams under fan restrictions and in some cases possibly not having crowds at all. ESPN reported that MLS’s third Canadian team , Vancouver, will continue to play home games in Salt Lake City because of ongoing work at BC Place, the Whitecaps’ home venue. ESPN also reported that unvaccinated players will not be able to participate in cross-border matches. The IOC has declined several recent demands to move the Olympics out of Beijing. China is accused by some foreign governments and researchers of imposing forced labor, systematic forced birth control and torture upon Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group. A vice president of Intel, one of the IOC’s top 15 sponsors, said he agreed with a U.S. State Department assessment that said China was committing genocide against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. “Such a big relief to be here,” Pittsburgh Steelers fan Logan Hartsock told ESPN. “We’ve been stuck inside for over a year, and it seemed like there was never any end in sight. We got kind of worried this event wasn’t going to happen. Then when we figured out that it was on, it was awesome. The rain was not going to stop us.” All fans will be asked to wear a mask when entering or circulating five indoor ticketed club areas, plus the team stores. Fans do not have to wear masks when actively eating or drinking inside the clubs or in the outdoor seating portions of those clubs. Fans will also be asked to wear masks in all indoor public spaces at Ballpark Village. CDC guidelines say those with positive tests must isolate for 10 days and contact tracing requires a 14-day quarantine. Those guidelines could put Florida’s game on October 24 against Missouri in jeopardy, although Stricklin said it was too soon to tell. To put a final point on the IOC’s position, Bach said: “If we would think it would be irresponsible and we would think the Games would not be safe, we would not go for it.” Economic consequences aside, there appears strong appetite within the Japanese public to not have foreign fans attend. Already with a majority polling against having the Olympics proceed this summer, a Yomiuri newspaper poll recently showed 77 percent of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18 percent in favor. In the poll, 48 percent said they were against allowing any spectators into venues. “We believe it would be most desirable not to have fans inside venues,” Omi told a news conference on Friday after submitting the written report. “Regardless of holding the Olympics or not, Japan has continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on the medical systems.” Emergency measures in Tokyo and other prefectures are being lifted on Sunday. Unvaccinated fans must bring a printed or digital version of a negative test taken within 72 hours prior to kickoff that includes name, the date of the test and the lab location where the test was taken. At-home, self-administered tests will not be accepted. But looming is what will happen when it’s time for the semifinals and if a Canadian team will be able to go back and forth across the border and have home games. ESPN reported this week that negotiations with the Canadian government about a cross-border travel agreement are ongoing. Canada has a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country. Still, there were outliers with nearby Ybor City in particular drawing lots of social media attention for its various parties that included large groups of mask-less people. Overall this week, the vibe from the NFL was actually quite positive. There have also been no games threatened because of positive tests within a team, although the game-day positive of Dez Bryant on the Baltimore Ravens temporarily had fans in an understandable panic, given the team’s issues recently — the Tuesday night game was rescheduled because of last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, itself pushed back nearly a week after the team had 10 consecutive days of positive tests, and at least a dozen players were diagnosed with coronavirus, notably league MVP Lamar Jackson . Food was also a topic of focus during the webinar. Townsend said that they curated a list of 86 local restaurants — 25 percent of the ones involved are minority owned — and those were the places that provided food service on a daily basis to the bubble. Each team for meals during the day would be able to select a restaurant and get curated menues, then the food was delivered to each team’s respective hotel and delivered to their floors with individually packaged and labeled meals for each person. “I cannot thank our partners at ShopRite, Acer and Eiger enough for their support as we navigate through these unique times,” said LPGA Commissioner M i ke Whan .“While this year’s tournament will certainly be different without the great fan support on-site, I hope all of our local fans will tune into Golf Channel to watch their favorite players and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.” One of the things that makes a Games so memorable for participants and those who attend with them is opportunity to have access to hospitality venues that many national Olympic committees operate on site. USA House is no different, although Hirshland said “it will look different. When we know more and have clarity about the delegations, international spectators, things of that nature, we’ll have a more clear answer on what different means.” The quarterfinals would be played on either January 1 or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday with the semifinals and title game in January. Spartan Race is cancelling all United States obstacle races and trail races for the rest of 2020. The organization had a series of postponements since March 11 when an event in San Luis Obispo, California, was canceled. It did have a race in Jacksonville, Florida, six weeks ago with a new set of standards but Spartan has decided to focus the rest of the calendar year on setting up its 2021 schedule. “The top priority will be the health and safety of fans, players and our staff,” said Steve Pangburn , CEO of Centerplate/Sodexo Sports & Leisure. “Our heightened protocols are in place to help everyone feel confident, safe and comfortable, and our menu items have also been dialed up a notch to meet the moment of one of the most exciting sporting events that our industry has to offer.” The Big Ten had only last week released a 10-game, conference-only schedule with play starting on Labor Day weekend. The Pac-12 had planned a conference-only schedule that was to start September 26. “From what I can tell right now, the plan is still to have the Canadian teams that make the playoffs play in their own cities,” Elliotte Friedman said Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada. “However, if there is a situation where we do need to consider a bubble, it is the likely scenario that the four teams that make the playoffs would go to a bubble in the United States.” “These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” O’Conner said. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.” The present quasi-state of emergency ends Sunday. Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 last Wednesday. It is the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13. “Oregon health regulations regarding stadium capacity have shifted significantly in the last two weeks,” said Michael Reilly , chief executive officer of TrackTown USA. “We are absolutely thrilled as these changes allow for previously impossible spectator numbers. Alongside our partners, we have developed a plan to maximize attendance while keeping participants and our community safe. We appreciate the hard work of public health officials and government leaders who have made today’s announcement possible.” Another traditional powerhouse, the University of Texas, is doing the same thing for its future with home-and-home series against Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and Georgia. The reason is simple: Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte told CBS Sports that when the Longhorns hosted LSU in the 2019 season in front of more than 110,000 fans, the school made $2.5 million in concession revenue alone. The league intends to move all fall competition to the 2021 spring semester. Details on the rescheduling of contests and championships will be announced at a later date. At premium hospitality spaces, specialties will include: NCAA Senior Vice President of Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman said the original setup was limited because of a lack of available space in San Antonio, with plans to expand once the tournament field shrunk in the later rounds but the NCAA would try to quickly improve the equipment available. The Huskies were scheduled to leave for the NCAA’s controlled environment in San Antonio on Tuesday. According to CDC and Connecticut Department of Public Health guidelines, Auriemma can rejoin the team on March 24 after a period of isolation. Asked to respond to a report that Japanese officials may be open to foreign spectators invited by Olympic sponsors, Bach said: “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our Japanese partners and friends. We are supporting them without any reservation.” While the women’s side has not had as much public back-and-forth about vaccination, former World No. 1  Victoria Azarenka did speak out after her second-round victory on Wednesday, saying it was “bizarre” that fans have to be vaccinated while players do not and adding she believes it will soon be mandatory for players to be vaccinated. The AHL has tentatively scheduled its season to start February 5; that decision was made by the league’s board of governors in early October, but the league has not made any substantial updates recently. The ECHL, meanwhile, will start its season on December 11 — but 11 of the league’s 26 teams have decided to opt out of the season because of the economic struggles that playing a season without fans would entail. That total includes the entire North Division plus teams in Atlanta; Norfolk, Virginia; and three new opt-outs in Cincinnati, Boise, Idaho, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Sportsnet has also reported that two other teams in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Toledo, Ohio, have not decided for certain if they will participate in the season. Lawn seating at the event will be free, but unlike past years when seating was open, tickets will be required at the 2021 event. A limited number of tickets will be made available to fans on July 12. Seating areas are expected to be designated by vaccinated and unvaccinated ticket holders. Not only the Pac-12, but the Mountain West also has no off weeks worked into its shortened schedule and that already has resulted in a no contest after Air Force at Wyoming, scheduled for this Saturday, was canceled after an outbreak on the Academy campus. It is Air Force’s second consecutive missed game after the November 7 game against Army was postponed. both announced on Thursday that it would be changing its plans and having football seasons this fall instead of the spring, with the Mountain West starting an eight-game conference season on October 24 and the Pac-12 holding a seven-game conference season starting November 6. The conference also announced a conference-only season for other sports, including men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country. That type of mandate, frankly, would never happen in the South, where four of the five states with the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated people in the United States are Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, the collective home to six of the Southeastern Conference’s 14 teams. The SEC has tried to use football as an incentive to get fans vaccinated; the conference has threatened forfeits for teams that cannot suit up the minimum required number of players this year. Commissioner Greg Sankey recently went on Twitter pleading with fans to be vaccinated and hinted at the roadblocks his conference faces legally, saying “State policies limit the SEC’s ability to establish Conference wide mandates. We need individuals — our fans — to join in accessing the vaccine, reducing COVID-19 spread, limiting the chances for more variants to emerge … and enjoying a full year ahead for college sports!” That may come to fruition as soon as this week, according to reports in ESPN and The Athletic that the National Basketball Players Association will vote about starting the season on December 22 for a 72-game season that would have the NBA Finals potentially end during its traditional June timeframe, allowing players to also participate in the rescheduled Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Darlington Raceway in South Carolina has gotten state approval to have fans in the stands when it runs NASCAR’s Southern 500 next month. The New York Yankees, who have struggled this season, finally stopped playing piped-in crowd noise and had its first 100 percent capacity game over the weekend against the Oakland Athletics. The NFL regular season was more than just 32 teams competing in 16 games each. It was in many ways also a grand science experiment as scientists were able to try and better understand the idea of COVID-19 through community spread and contact tracing. “If you look at the pictures and people are very close to each other and celebrating by hugging each other, it is clear that this promotes the infection process,” said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer . “I can’t explain at all why UEFA doesn’t follow reason.” “This absolutely kills me,” said Mark Neville , executive director of the Holiday Bowl. “If our game got canceled in December, now what? In the worst case scenario, what if we have Florida State and Washington in our game and they get into town and five kids on Florida State’s team test positive. Then what?” “Given the latest input and guidance from the University, local and state officials as well as public health experts, we have decided at this time it is not possible to host the 2020 Ice Breaker Tournament in a successful manner and have postponed the event to October of 2021,” said UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo. “Ultimately, the health and well-being of the participants, staff, coaches, campus and community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts UMD, Amsoil Arena and Duluth in the best position to safely host the Ice Breaker Tournament in 2021 that will include an exceptional experience for the teams, a safe and fun atmosphere for the fans of Bulldog Country and beyond as well as significant economic impact for our community.” The Triple-A baseball season, scheduled to start on April 6, will instead be delayed a month until May and will open at the same time as Double-A and Single-A. “Women’s basketball, like men’s basketball, those are the two marquee sports for NCAA championships,” he said. “If you don’t get those right you’re not going to get anything right. So we’ve got to get those things right. And our commitment — my commitment to that is unequivocal. But we also need to make sure if we’re dropping the ball in basketball that we’re not doing it in lacrosse or golf or tennis or any other sport that we have men’s and women’s tournaments in. It’s got to be gender equity across the board.” The finals are June 26–27 and will air live on CBS Sports Network. It will be the first PBA Tour event with fans in attendance since March 2020. “Our venues and host institutions and conferences have things very well in place. Many of these venues have hosted some level of fans recently,” Gavitt said. “We’re confident they have had some experience in welcoming guests and have those plans in place to keep everybody healthy and safe.” Bilbao, Spain, and Dublin, Ireland, were removed as host cities with Seville, Spain; St. Petersburg, Russia; and London getting extra games at the event, which starts June 11 in Rome. Three games scheduled in Bilbao will move to Seville. St. Petersburg, which was set to host four games in the tournament, now gets three games from Dublin and Wembley Stadium London will get the round of 16 game scheduled for Dublin. Both semifinals and the final will also be played at Wembley. “My family sat out in the stands for a quarter-and-a-half,” Goodell said on a Monday conference call . “The pods seemed to work really well and safe. People wearing PPE and staying safe. A lot of assistance around the stadium if needed.” “I commend the Board of Directors for their forward thinking and open-mindedness when dealing with the uncertain and complex moment that we find ourselves in,” said CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio . “Each of our institutions is making the best decisions for its campus community, based on a totality of the circumstances analysis.” Browns Center JC Tretter , who before the season was voted the NFL Players Association President, acknowledged while the regular season was completed on time, “there’s no victory lap. There are still 40-plus days until the Super Bowl and we’re trying to get there safely and on time.” “We’re excited to welcome spectators back to the PGA Championship this May in a way that is responsible and aligned with current South Carolina health protocols,” said PGA of America President Jim Richerson . “… While crowds will be smaller than originally planned, we know the passion for golf in the Carolinas will create a memorable atmosphere on-course and excitement throughout the region.” The round of testing was the fifth in the NHL’s Phase 4 of its Return to Play Protocols. The Stanley Cup playoffs are in the conference semifinal stage with a Western Conference bubble in Edmonton and Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto. The Eastern Conference finals will see both teams traveling to Edmonton to have both that series and the Stanley Cup Final held in its bubble. The SEC’s announcement was followed by another Power 5 cancellation as Baylor’s game against Oklahoma State, scheduled for October 19, will also be postponed to December 12. The move was made after the Bears had to pause activities last week — and Baylor Athletic Director Mack Rhoades then admitted there are 28 cases of COVID-19 among players and 14 cases among football staff members. The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup golf tournaments have become the latest international events to be rescheduled . The 43rd Ryder Cup, which pits the best American golfers against the top European golfers, had been scheduled for September 22–27 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin . The event will now be held September 21–26, 2021. The New York City Marathon has been canceled. This year’s event on November 1 was set to be the 50th running of the event, which began in 1970 and has grown to become the world’s largest marathon with 53,640 finishers in 2019. Marathons have had a tough go of the marketplace during the pandemic. The Berlin Marathon was canceled on Wednesday and earlier this month the 124th annual Boston Marathon, an April tradition that this year was rescheduled for September 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was canceled outright. Even this season’s games were organized differently. There were no fans for all 898 games, which MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said is a major reason that MLB’s teams sustained a combined $3 billion in losses this season. Doubleheaders were seven innings apiece instead of the traditional nine innings. Extra-inning games saw each team’s at-bat start with a runner on second, a decision many traditionalists decried. While the rule was obstinately to speed up games, the average time of a nine-inning game this year was a record 3 hours, 7 minutes, 46 seconds. “I think a lot came out of Florida where we were in this wave of them,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s a little of you don’t know when and where it’s spreading.” The move comes as COVID-19 rates continue to climb in Tokyo and across Japan, including in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. A decision is expected before the end of the week on whether those rates warrant a further reduction of allowed Tokyo spectators, which right now are capped at 10,000 people per venue, or a maximum of 50 percent capacity. Organizers have hinted that some events, including the Opening Ceremony, may only be open to VIP attendees. Hoops said Visit Indy, the NCAA and Indiana Sports Corp are working on economic impact study and “our cocktail napkin math” has the estimated economic impact at around $100 million. “It’s a bit like a gambler who already has lost too much,” Koichi Nakano , a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo, told The Associated Press over the weekend . “Pulling out of it now will only confirm the huge losses made but carrying on you can still cling to the hope of winning big and taking it all back.” San Jose Sharks fans will need to show proof of vaccination at the SAP Center this season, the venue and team have jointly announced. The protocol will extend to any event at SAP Center, including the upcoming Gold Over America Tour Starring Simone Biles on September 26. Guests under the age of 12 will not be subject to the policy. The NHL’s seven Canadian teams and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors will, because of the rules for traveling in and out of Canada, face the same challenges that MLB and Major League Soccer faced this season. The Toronto Blue Jays had to play their home games this season in Buffalo, New York. The three Canadian teams in MLS played multiple games against each other in Canada before finishing their seasons, playing home games at neutral site. Vancouver was based in Portland, Oregon, and the Montreal Impact based in New Jersey while Toronto FC was in Connecticut. “The Vans US Open of Surfing has always been about bringing people together in a healthy, fun and interactive environment and given the size and scale of the event, we can’t see a way to do that this year without sacrificing the very thing that makes it so special,” said Jennifer Lau , vice president of action sports at IMG. “This event would not be the same without the amazing surf, skate, and BMX fans who come out to connect and have fun year after year. We can’t wait to return in 2021 and will be working harder than ever to stage another world-class event at Huntington Beach next summer.” Because the league’s rules preclude an emergency signing because of the time needed for any free-agent signing to clear protocols, the Broncos will play the New Orleans Saints with one of its wide receivers on the practice squad, Kendall Hinton , playing quarterback thanks to his background in the position at college before switching positions. Because of the unique situation, many betting books in Las Vegas have taken the game off the line. Not having the NHL playoffs at home this year would be another blow to the Canadian sports scene. The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and Canadian Open in Toronto, two of the country’s major annual warm-weather sporting events, have been cancelled two years in a row along with the IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy Toronto race weekend. The women’s world hockey championships, scheduled to be in Nova Scotia, was canceled right as participating teams were about to start their quarantines — with the International Ice Hockey Federation promising to hold the event at another destination later this year. Typically one of the more highly-anticipated series in regular season, the Subway Series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees has been postponed after two members of the Mets organization tested positive earlier in the week. The improved relationship with the NFL Players Association will also come into play. The 2020 Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch in Huntington Beach Pier, California, has been canceled. Event organizers said in a statement they look forward to returning to southside of the Huntington Beach Pier in 2021. The two sections will have pods of groups separated by one seat. Those fans will be admitted through a separate gate and required to show their CDC vaccination card, or proof thereof, along with valid identification. Fans would have to have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days to be eligible to be in those sections. Miami is one of the teams that have been allowing fans at games to this point this season; only eight teams have not had fans at home games yet. Whether vaccinated or not, the USOPC also has to make sure that its various trials go off as scheduled. One of the more high-profile trials is for USA Wrestling, which earlier this year announced that its event would be relocated from Penn State University to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth , Texas, with a restricted capacity of fans in attendance and strict health protocols. Since that announcement, the state of Texas has declared itself “100 percent open” but Hirshland said that announcement will not change any USOPC protocols in Fort Worth. Brennan said that the 2022 race is scheduled to start April 27 and he will be contacting each person who registered for this year’s event to offer either a spot in the 2022 event or a refund. Unpaid volunteers save Olympic organizers millions of dollars. Volunteers typically get a uniform, meals and have daily commuting costs covered. A study done for the IOC on volunteers at the 2000 Sydney Olympics said their value was at least $60 million for 40,000 volunteers. USA Cycling said in a Friday release that the past year has placed the Velo Sports Center in Carson, which is part of the Dignity Health Sports Park complex, under severe operational restrictions and made holding the event not feasible. The Valley Preferred Cycling Center, along with Discover Lehigh Valley , has stepped in to bring the event to Pennsylvania. Organizers say about up to 3.7 million tickets are still held by residents of Japan; the total number of tickets originally announced for the Olympics was about 7.8 million. “I don’t try to indoctrinate my kids with my values or … my opinions,” Avent said. “Obviously we talk about a lot of things. But these are young men that can make their own decisions, and that’s what they did.” Half of the teams playing in the Copa America have reported COVID-19 cases — Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Chile. Chile admitted that some of its players also allowed a barber to visit the team hotel, a violation of tournament protocols, over the weekend. A team must play at least six games this season to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin, which won its season opener against Illinois on October 23, has five games scheduled the rest of this season and must play them all to be eligible for the title game. The stands at the Oklahoma game also was seen with many fans not wearing masks, which was stadium policy. Oklahoma Athletics Director Joe Castiglione told the student newspaper that “too many individuals fell short of expectations.” The publication said while precautions included stickers on seats saying “Please leave this seat vacant” to avoid clusters of people, fans in certain areas of the stands refused to wear masks or socially distance. Baltimore at Cleveland: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer, Chaim Bloom , admitted the Red Sox are below the MLB threshold of 85 percent vaccinated. Some of the players currently in protocols have been vaccinated; Bloom said Red Sox staffers are required to be vaccinated. In Mississippi, which the CDC says is last in the U.S. in percent of residents receiving at least one vaccination dose at 41.6 percent, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday there is a 100% vaccination rate among players, coaches, staff members and everybody within the program. In fact, when Mullen first made the comments, he was explicitly asked as a follow-up if he was being serious and realized what he was saying. Several NBA stars have already spoken out about their reluctance to participate in the league’s hastily schedule All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. Gavitt said before the tournament started that a team could continue playing as long as it had five “eligible and healthy” players. Because of that policy, both McLaughlin and VCU Coach Mike Rhoades thought VCU would be able to play Saturday. “The International Series has become a highlight of the sporting calendar in the UK, with many fans travelling from Germany to attend,” said Brett Gosper , NFL head of UK and Europe. “We are very excited about the development of our German fan base, and the time is right to identify a partner who can execute a game at NFL standards as part of our international growth strategy.” “Pulling off this event will be something that likely will never happen again,” Visit Indy President and CEO  Leonard Hoops said, pointing to the city’s evolution in hosting sporting events and its many sports venues that all ended up playing a part in March Madness. “I would tell people that yes we were lucky — but we were a 50-year overnight success. It’s taken us five decades to be in a position to be able to host an event like this.” Athletes who were registered for the 2020 event have the option to participate in one of the age-group races at the Way Over Yonder Off-Road Triathlon & Duathlon, which is still scheduled for September 13, provided they can abide by New Jersey’s COVID-19 restrictions. They will also receive a special 30% off discount code toward the 2021 race. The Division I Council is expected to vote on the recommendations for football as well as a reported delayed start date for college basketball’s season at its September 16 meeting. According to the Los Angeles Times , the CIF will allow athletes to participate on club teams while also competing in high school seasons in a temporary suspension of statewide rules, although local districts can have a stricter rule should they choose. Community leaders have scheduled a full series of events to recognize the Reds returning to full capacity and the end of Ohio’s health orders related to the pandemic. The Reds will play the Phillies at 12:35 p.m. local time. College football’s upcoming weekend has already been disrupted with Florida State still experiencing issues getting enough players healthy and recovered from COVID-19, the Pac-12 having four teams with issues of varying degrees and potentially the Big Ten crowning a division champion by default. And through a short but thoroughly deserved celebration lap — including a SportsTravel Award received last month during the TEAMS ’20 Virtual from Houston Conference — there was one looming question, which was how the 2020–2021 season would be organized. Should those teams continue ahead with their plans, that would make 13 out of the league’s 32 teams either planning to this week have fans for the first time or having already had fans at home games. Only the Dallas Cowboys have had more than 16,000 fans on site for a game this season, allowing in 21,708 to its home game against the Atlanta Falcons on September 13. “Women athletes and coaches are done waiting, not just for upgrades of a weight room, but for equity in every facet of life,” Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said Saturday . “Seeing men’s health valued at a higher level than that of women, as evidenced by different testing protocols at both tournaments, is disheartening. This cannot continue to be business as usual. There are necessary changes that need to be made.” “Many people including children have been looking forward to the games, and I’m very sorry to take away their chance of watching baseball and softball at the stadium,” Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said Saturday . “It was a very tough decision to make.” “This isn’t the first time that we’ve gone through this, so whatever the protocols are we’ll follow them exactly how they’re laid out,” said Vrabel. NASCAR has announced its schedule of events through August including two additional NASCAR Cup Series doubleheaders and two separate stops on different courses at Daytona International Speedway. Before its final decision, USA Wrestling held a series of discussions including two meetings of the Executive Committee, plus one of the USA Wrestling Athlete Advisory Committee meeting. A survey was sent to 117 athletes on whether athletes would attend or not attend under a variety of different possible conditions. Two of USA Wrestling’s special subcommittees, its COVID-19 Advisory Committee and its COVID-19 Public Relations and Messaging Committee, also held meetings on the topic. The Vikings put Kirk Cousins , Kellen Mond and Nate Stanley on the COVID-19 reserve list after Mond tested positive and Cousins and Stanley, who have not been vaccinated, were deemed close contacts. Each of them has to isolate for five days before being able to return to practice. “I’m devastated for these players. These student-athletes have done a wonderful job all year of making sacrifices to get to this point of the year,” said Michigan Coach Mel Pearson . “It’s unfortunate. I don’t completely understand the final decision but I have to respect it.” No football in the Big Ten this season would be a devastating blow to several local economies, including markets such as Lincoln, Nebraska; State College, Pennsylvania; and Ann Arbor, Michigan . The conference has some of the biggest fan bases in the country; rivalries such as Ohio State vs. Michigan are among the fiercest in all of sports and many of its other matchups have a long history such as Wisconsin vs. Minnesota, which has been played annually since 1905. “We were informed there might be another state of emergency declared in Tokyo,” IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday. “We understand that this would be a proactive measure for the ‘Golden Week’ holiday with which the government is aiming to prevent the spread of infection. This measure would be in line with the very diligent approach we see taken by Japanese authorities.” Before arriving in Tokyo, athletes will need to produce two negative test results within 96 hours of their flight, including one test within 72 hours. They will also be tested at the airport in Tokyo before being allowed to travel to the Athletes Village. Once in Japan, athletes and other stakeholders traveling to Tokyo — including media and international federation members — will be tracked by GPS through smartphone apps for the purpose of contact tracing. Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes without a mask and within six feet of someone will be considered a close contact. That’s why the confirmation from the NCAA that its usual $613 million revenue distribution will be paid to members should the events be completed is significant. Last year’s cancellation was a financial catastrophe to the NCAA; insurance covered $270 million, leaving only $225 million distributed to membership. That there is hesitation on the part of Arizona’s spring training sites reflect the nature of spring training’s economic drivers. While there obviously are local fans that will attend games, the vast majority of those who attend spring training travel in from out of town ­for either a long weekend or full week, going to exhibitions but also enjoying time surrounding the ballpark area in areas such as downtown Scottsdale or the Salt River Fields complex where the hometown Diamondbacks train. Now the one pro league in the offseason, the National Football League, has agreed to policies with the NFL Players Association that are aligned with many of the other pro sports in encouraging vaccinations by players. Players who are fully vaccinated will not be subject to daily testing or mask requirements, will not have to quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID-19 positive person and won’t have travel restrictions. Those who are not fully vaccinated, however, will not receive those perks. Vancouver finished last season playing home games in Portland, Oregon, and is reported to be starting the season with a temporary home base in Salt Lake City. Toronto FC played home games in Hartford, Connecticut, last season and Montreal played in Harrison, New Jersey. Holy Cross at Boston University game today at BU. “There’s no doubt: the bubble is the answer,” said Wright. “If you want to get where you are sure that you’re going to get all your games in, the bubble’s the answer the medical experts will agree to that. The challenge for us is … are not employees so to force someone to go into a bubble is shaky. And, if you do it for the men you have to do it for the women, which doubles the cost for everybody.” The National Lacrosse League will target its 35th season to begin on April 9 with team training camps starting in mid-March under strict guidelines and with a mix of virtual and in-person training. “The goal is not to prevent all cases of COVID. The goal, really, is to be certain that we don’t have an outbreak of COVID that’s going to be unusual or that we would regret,” Dr. Brian Hainline , a USTA vice president and member of its medical advisory group, said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. The United States Tennis Association has announced that fans will be back at full capacity for the 2021 US Open with tickets to the event going on sale on July 15. All ticket categories for the 25 sessions, from reserved stadium seating to general admission grounds passes, will be available. NHL had temporary lights around the rink so it was able to adapt and have the game resume at night when the ice conditions were much improved. The race in Montreal had been confirmed as being a behind-closed-doors event if it were to go ahead but with Canada requiring incoming international travelers to quarantine on arrival, Formula 1 had requested an exemption that was not granted by the government. The New York Times detailed earlier in August some of the measures that Beijing organizers are already planning. The story said that Beijing plans to allow fewer than 30,000 people, including accredited participants, into China compared to the 42,000 that were allowed into Tokyo for the Summer Games. The Times also reported the following: “Dr. Omi has indicated that ideally the best way is to hold the games without spectators — that was his recommendation,” Hashimoto said. “But if we are to hold the games with spectators, Dr. Omi also had his recommendations.” That would be quite the discrepancy in tracking given that organizers said while 11,090 Olympians will be in Tokyo, 59,000 other people will enter the country, including 3,000 from the ‘Olympic Family’ as well as national Olympic committees ; international sports federations ; Olympic Broadcasting Service and other broadcasters ; media ; others . The worldwide marathon schedule will be an extremely full fall after announcements that events in both Boston and Los Angeles will be rescheduled from the spring because of the coronavirus. The round of tests was clean. Another round of testing the day before the game also came back negative. The game was a go. Fast forward to this weekend and the NFL has one game left to play this season — the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. While the Big 12 and Texas are still moving ahead with plans to play all football games, the Pac-12 Conference has already announced that it will not have its member schools playing in non-conference games for all fall sports. One Pac-12 school, California, has announced that it will start the fall semester with fully remote instruction and not have students on campus. How that will affect Cal’s athletic programs is to be determined; the Bears football program already had games canceled by the conference’s decision against UNLV, TCU and Cal Poly, making the team’s currently scheduled opener September 26 against Utah. The Big Ten’s statement said the decision was made between meetings from the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee along with the presidents and chancellors plus athletic directors from each of the member schools. All summer activities will be voluntary and any athlete who decides not to compete this fall will have their scholarship honored by their institution. Things were looking so bright for Major League Soccer in February. The league was about to start its 25 th season with star power in Inter Miami with David Beckham as owner, 26 teams deep with four more franchises prepared to begin play within a few years. There would be a spotlight event with the All-Star Game aagainst a selection of Liga MX All-Stars at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Beasley also went on Twitter about his fine, saying he wore a mask the whole day and then took it off “literally 5 steps” from the entry door to the locker room. Beasley has been told to stay away from Buffalo’s facility for five days after being one of six players deemed a close contact of a staff member who tested positive. All Olympians entering Japan are required to be tested for the virus before departure and after their arrival. In June, two members of Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive after arriving despite receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The 2019-20 NLL season ended March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That strain is particularly felt on the collegiate level where for most schools, football game day revenue is the second-biggest source of income. Ohio State’s athletic department has projected a $50 million budget deficit for the 2021 fiscal year — an improvement over the preliminary estimate in January of a $70 million hole. USA Today reported this month that while the Power Five’s total combined revenue rose $11 million in fiscal 2020, that pales in comparison to the combined $252 million over the previous six years. “You’re already getting a sense that things are starting to change and go in a much more positive direction,” Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Just the environment in our building, I remember those first couple games we had at the beginning of the year when there was literally nobody here, that was an eerie experience.” The plan was developed in concert with current Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment guidelines and integrates policy and protocol as established by the cycling governing bodies of the Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling. The plan takes into account the Colorado Classic’s first step toward a safe racing environment, which was the creation of a “Made for TV Streaming” model. This format eliminated crowd gathering opportunities and amplified their innovative live streaming model instead. “We constantly monitor the latest COVID developments and are in contact with the CDC and other top infectious disease experts,” a league spokesperson told The Athletic on Friday . “We adjust our protocols accordingly.” The Euro 2020 final was won by Italy in penalty kicks over host England in Wembley Stadium in a match that saw — according to witnesses — hundreds of fans storm the gates before the game without tickets and forcing their way past security and into the game. Planning for the event, which was canceled last year because of the pandemic, continues to be adapted to the guidelines set forth by the state of New York and the Centers for Disease Control. Major League Baseball has canceled its 2020 All-Star Game, which was to be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in July. The Dodgers will instead be awarded the 2022 game. Of note looking back at the weekend is that eight games were played with fans in attendance — but other than the Carolina Panthers’ home game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons, none were sellouts even with restricted capacity. “We could hear them before the game and going out for warmups had chills again,” said Montreal captain Shea Weber . ” It felt like a lot more than 2,500 people. It was amazing. I can’t imagine what 20,000 people would be like right now because that was electric for that amount.” “I said ‘Here’s a what-if scenario,’” Rivera told reporters on Saturday . “’What if this had been game day Sunday for the opener?’ Even though it’s only contact tracing for some of them, that’s five days. So if this is the opener, imagine this: Open against , Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, playing Thursday night against the Giants. Those guys would not be eligible. So, to me it brings the reality of what the rules are, and I hope it helps.” While not as wide-ranging as the Pac-12’s allowance to let teams play non-conference games, the SEC also made changes to its schedule. The league’s championship game will be December 19 — as well as makeup league games for teams that are not in the title game. It will also allow teams that have games postponed due to their opponents’ roster limitations to play each other as long as the decision is made by the Monday before the scheduled Saturday game. Indianapolis at Buffalo: Up to 6,700 fans allowed. L.A. Rams at Seattle: No fans will be allowed. Tampa Bay at Washington: No fans will be allowed. All spectators must also register their contact information in the event of a COVID exposure where follow-up from contact tracers is needed. Face coverings are required for all fans at all indoor and outdoor venues. The school also asks spectators to RSVP, attest to vaccination requirements, and perform a daily symptom check the day of their intended attendance at non-ticketed fall sport competition. “We couldn’t be more excited and deeply honored to bring the Maui Jim Maui Invitational here to Asheville,” said Demp Bradford , president of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission . “Asheville’s ability to host this top-level sporting event is a testament to state and local partnerships built on a track record of welcoming and supporting national, and international, competitive events to Buncombe County.” “These fan guidelines have been adopted by the 14 member schools of the Southeastern Conference as baseline recommendations for the campus management of fan health and safety,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey . “Although local and state guidelines will determine if and how many fans can attend games, these guidelines provide conference-wide expectations for protection of guests who are able to attend our games.” LSU athletics said they “encourage fans to conduct a self-assessment before heading to the game to check for COVID-19 symptoms” but also announced that it will resume selling alcohol and will open all concession stands in the south lower section at Tiger Stadium. This weekend will see a key track and field test event, which will be attended by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe . Other test events scheduled include a skateboarding event May 13–14 at Ariake Urban Sports Park; a BMX test event May 17 at the same venue; a 3×3 basketball test event at Aomi Urban Sports Park May 14–16; and a shooting test event May 17–21 at Asaka Shooting Range. As this season starts to approach, any player that is not vaccinated can run the risk of ruling out several teammates through contact tracing. The Minnesota Vikings know that better than anyone after this past weekend’s open practice for fans turned into a showcase for QB Jake Browning — the only available player at the position after the other three quarterbacks were ruled out. “Joel is on his way down here right now,” Montreal’s acting coach, Luke Richardson , said on Monday morning. “He got clearance. Excited to have him join us, but we will have to make all those decisions at game time because we don’t know when he’s getting here.” The new outdoor ticketed event will be held on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center and will be broadcast live on MLB Network. Between decisions in Chicago and the state of California, baseball may have fans at every game in time for Opening Day. At least 25 of the league’s 30 teams have announced that fans will be in attendance to some degree; the Washington Nationals are the one team for which a closed stadium may be possible. The Nationals’ most recent request to host fans at Nationals Park was denied by the District of Columbia but the government will revisit the issue in about two weeks. Vaccinated section vs Unvaccinated section. A lot more fun being vaccinated pic.twitter.com/5LUDsCtKIM — Stefan Bondy May 23, 2021 The NCAA’s latest announcement came within hours of an announcement by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett giving bars, restaurants and other venues more leeway when it comes to capacity. Among the moves is allowing bar capacity to increase to 50 percent as long as social distancing is followed and indoor restaurant capacity will increase to 75 percent. For both championships, multiple health and safety guidelines will be in place including face coverings required for fans, staffers and volunteers. California residents must show proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championships or that a negative test result has been received; all out-of-state fans must provide proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championship. Shortly after the Division III announcement, Division II’s Presidents Council made the same decision. As of Wednesday, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had announced they will not compete during the fall. Only those with a distinct bias against the University of Florida would not call the football team’s home stadium, The Swamp, one of the hardest places for a road team to win in the country. Set in a sinkhole, the venue has had sound levels measured as high as 115 decibels during games. “I never felt anything like that before,” Rose said. “I’ve had the flu. It was nothing like the flu. You are drained of everything. It was like that times 10 … I couldn’t exercise. I couldn’t do anything but just be around my family and read. Just leaving the house, it’s something we take for granted. Just breathing. Just everything. I went through a lot in quarantine. I’m just thankful very thankful.” Moving the tournament to the fall will set up for an expanded United States swing for both tours for tennis fans to enjoy. A tournament in Atlanta will start at the same time as the Olympic Games for those who do not qualify for Tokyo; after that will be events scheduled for Canada that may move to the U.S., then ATP tournaments in Ohio and North Carolina before the U.S. Open starts in New York on August 30. The WTA Tour, for its part, will have U.S. Open warmup events in Charleston, South Carolina; Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland. Plans to have local fans on hand for the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo were officially shelved by the organizing committee in consult with the International Olympic Committee after the city entered another state of emergency — due to a spike of COVID-19 cases — that will last throughout the world’s largest sporting event. Dan Gavitt , NCAA senior vice president of men’s basketball, said last week that a team needs five healthy players to play in a tournament game. Coates’ letter is the latest in a string of confident remarks he has made about the status of this year’s rescheduled Games. Two weeks ago after the Australian Olympic Committee’s annual general meeting in Sydney,  he told reporters  “absolutely it’s going ahead. … I don’t want these kids to miss the one opportunity they have in their lifetime. We’re doing it so these kids can fulfill their dreams.” The Premier League has moved a round of schedules back from May 15–16 to May 18–19 in accordance with the British government’s scheduled roadmap out of the country’s latest lockdown. Outdoor sports venues will be allowed up to 10,000 fans or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower, starting May 17. “I think the increasing numbers are indicating with people getting more comfortable, understanding better that they are effective, that they are safe and that they are the best way to keep yourself and your family and everyone around you safe,” Goodell said. “… I think we’re in a place where I think we can keep our personnel safe and have limited disruptions.” “As we continue to navigate the continually changing regulations across North America, we recognize the difficult nature of this decision,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin . “While some of our teams’ host cities have allowed upcoming plans to include fans inside arenas, we unfortunately do not see the same path for these highly-affected areas in the Northeast.” “I haven’t really thought much about that. That’s a really good question,” Williams said. “I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself. We’re best friends.” Six teams — Dallas, Cleveland, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Miami and Jacksonville — have had a restricted number of fans at games so far this season. The numbers have varied from 2,500 at the Colts’ game this past Sunday against Minnesota, which works out to four percent of capacity, to the Browns having 10% capacity at its stadium. “I brought up the idea of testing 50,000 people and quarantining them in a hotel, and having the most safest Superdome known to man, scientifically,” Payton said. “Bus them, they’ve tested every day, and you’ve got a COVID-free facility — I think that’s possible.” The National Football League season was at a tipping point. Its marquee Thanksgiving Day game in prime time featuring rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore had been postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Ravens locker room affecting 22 players. Smith need not tell the players on the San Francisco 49ers that things won’t all be perfect, given that the team was forced to relocate to Arizona indefinitely because of Santa Clara County restrictions on contact sports. And one other team that is able to remain home, the Green Bay Packers, officially backed off plans to allow a restricted number of fans to attend home games on Tuesday; the team had been allowing team employees and their families to attend the past two home games in a test run for larger crowds. But in a statement, the team said: “While infection rates in Brown County and in many areas in Wisconsin currently are trending in a better direction, the rate overall remains at a high level locally. Also, with the holiday season coming up there is concern that the rate may spike again.” “Thank you to Mayor Castor and the City of Tampa for quickly implementing this Executive Order to enhance the health and safety of Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s along with other key surrounding areas,” said  Rob Higgins , president and chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee. “This is yet another example of how Team Tampa Bay and the NFL are working tirelessly to create lifelong Super Bowl memories for local and visiting fans in the safest fashion possible.” Raiders Owner Mark Davis said on Tuesday that the team would offer either full refunds to season-ticket holders who choose to not get vaccinated or rollovers to next season. But he will not back down from his decision. Virginia earned a fourth seed in the NCAA tournament and is matched up with No. 13 Ohio. Tuesday night is the deadline for the NCAA to introduce a replacement team should the Cavaliers not be able to play in the first round. NCAA protocols state that a player needs to show seven consecutive negative tests before traveling to Indianapolis before undergoing daily testing while inside the controlled environment there. And with the NHL increasing fans in many of its venues and the NBA doing the same — 10 of the 16 teams in the postseason will have more than 10,000 on hand — plus nearly a dozen Major League Baseball teams planning to have 100 percent capacity by the fourth of July, each day feels more normal than it has in a very long time. The answer to that question will have millions of dollars riding on it — millions that many fans may not have in disposable income because of the effect that the pandemic has had on employment. But teams and universities are hoping they can recoup some of that income after having nearly a full year of severely decreased game day revenues. The IIHF Council has agreed in principle to a new set of dates for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship with the event now scheduled to start August 20 at a destination to be determined in Canada. The Miami Dolphins have nearly averaged a “sellout” of 12,294, only six under its capacity of 13,000. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed up to 16,791 fans per game all season but are averaging 15,701; the Kansas City Chiefs have been allowing up to 16,811 fans per game but are only averaging 13,086. The official announcement came a few days after Japanese media reported that the decision to allow fans had been made, only for the top medical adviser to Japan’s government, Dr. Shigeru Omi , to recommend that fans not be allowed. Emergency measures in Tokyo and other prefectures were lifted on Sunday. Sunday’s Games Pittsburgh at Jacksonville: Up to 16,791 fans will be allowed New England at Houston: Up to 13,300 fans will be allowed Green Bay at Indianapolis: Up to 12,500 fans will be allowed Philadelphia at Cleveland: Up to 12,000 fans will be allowed Atlanta at New Orleans: Up to 6,000 fans will be allowed Miami at Denver: Up to 5,700 fans will be allowed Detroit at Carolina: Up to 5,240 fans will be allowed Cincinnati at Washington: No fans will be allowed Tennessee at Baltimore: No fans will be allowed N.Y. Jets at L.A. Chargers: No fans will be allowed Dallas at Minnesota: No fans will be allowed Kansas City at Las Vegas: No fans will be allowed “We’re going to try to bring in as many fans as we can safely do into Raymond James Stadium,” Goodell said. “I’m not sure there is a specific number that we are confident saying, ‘This is what it will be,’ but obviously our focus will be on keeping them safe.” Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton , along with Phoenix’s Devin Booker , are all scheduled to leave for Tokyo once the Finals are done and join Team USA, which had problems with COVID testing during its Las Vegas training camp. Wizards guard Bradley Beal will miss the Games and Bulls guard Zach Levine was put into health and safety protocols on Monday afternoon, though he may still be able to join the team later in Japan. “It was a good reminder that I just got sloppy in that instance, and I can’t afford to be,’’ Carroll said. “I can’t afford to represent that in an effort to try to do this thing better than anybody’s ever done this before. So, I needed to get my own butt kicked, and I didn’t mind that one bit.’’ The season itself has only one game left — the biggest game of the season, the Super Bowl on February 7 between the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Through there were some close calls with multiple games delayed into unique broadcast windows and multiple shuffling of off weeks, the NFL was able to finish the regular season on time. And because of the amount of games it played and how protocols were stiffened throughout the season to reflect nationwide surges of the coronavirus, a recent paper jointly authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NFL-NFLPA medical experts and epidemiologists showcases many of the findings from the season and how the virus can spread in various social settings. Of the 26 teams that have said they will not have fans at the beginning, two — Las Vegas and Washington — have said it will be closed off for fans for the entire season. The New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago and Baltimore have all said that fans will not be in attendance “until further notice.” The start of conference play will be announced at a later date, with some schools planning on having a non-conference game as soon as late-August. The adjusted schedule also allows for the Big 12 Championship game to be moved to as late as December 19, which is in line with what other Power 5 conferences have scheduled. “I think it is possible that the measures our nation takes to protect human life and livelihoods simply will not make it possible to hold the Olympics,” said Yukio Edano , head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. “In that situation, the IOC and Tokyo city government will have to make a decision, and the government will back that.” Cranis said he expects up to 15 sports will be contested at the event during the last week in July and the first week in August. There will be up to 3,000 athletes competing with as many as 10,000 room nights. Cranis said Brevard School District and Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department venues will be used to host the event. The AAU Junior Olympic Games, held annually since 1967, will be moving from its scheduled site of Hampton Roads, Virginia . “The Board concluded that an entire fall sports season is not likely, and that a postponement to spring can provide the important opportunities our teams annually seek,” Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said. “While disappointed that we won’t be playing these sports in the Southland’s 58th year of fall competition, we look forward to a unique spring season of athletics that also includes NCAA postseason opportunities.” The attention around if the Games will occur passed a fever pitch and descended to strange depths when one government official from the state of Florida proposed moving the Olympics to his state. It got so much attention that it was brought up at Tuesday’s White House press briefing and referred to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which told The Washington Post : “We were not made aware of the letter to President Bach in advance. We invite American cities to indicate to us their interest in hosting a future Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are happy to work with them through the education and fact-finding process. We stand in support of the Tokyo Organizing Committee and Japanese government who have given more than seven years of focus and dedication to welcoming the athletes of the world, and honor their efforts to host a safe and successful Games this summer.” The cross-border travel restrictions between Canada and the United States have resulted in a year-plus of sporting events north of the border disrupted from the Toronto Raptors and the NHL season to Formula 1 and IndyCar events, to major tennis tournaments, Major League Soccer clubs and the Toronto Blue Jays. “The return of the Olympic and Paralympic Games represents a monumental moment of world unity and peace after a grueling year of isolation and devastation.” —Albert Bourla, Chairman/CEO of Pfizer Twelve Colorado staff members and five players have tested positive since September 24. Matches against Sporting Kansas City, the Portland Timbers and LAFC have already been postponed. The Rapids must now try to fit in 10 matches by the scheduled end of the regular season on November 8. The decision to allow fans depending on the region was greeted with widespread relief for those in England’s lower leagues of soccer. Many teams are like American minor league teams in that they are hugely reliant on gate receipts with many teams in League One and League Two raising concerns about their viability financially to survive the full season. The English Football League, which is the organizer of the lower leagues, may shift the schedule around so that matches scheduled right before December 2 get moved to later dates in the month so that teams would have a bonus home game’s worth of attendance revenue. And based in part because of its success in completing every game to this point, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed that there will not be a playoff bubble for postseason teams, NFL.com reported . There was belief that teams would want players and staff members to stay in a hotel during the playoffs in a modified bubble format to keep from getting the virus from the outside world, but that will not be required by the league. This week’s decision on the future comes as the league’s most recent week of COVID-19 testing revealed a .09 percent positivity rate among players. One of the sports that can easily lead itself to social distancing among fans at its events, the PGA Tour has still remained very slow in bringing back spectators. The two majors held in the United States so far, the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, were both held without fans on the course, although some by the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York were able to get great views. Further reports indicate several Titans players broke protocols put in place by the league and players association and held unofficial practices at a school in Nashville after being told not to engage in any in-person activities. Yahoo Sports reported it could lead to penalties being levied against the organization that were “not a matter of if, but when and how severe.” pic.twitter.com/hhXpsoaZt6 — Washington Nationals April 1, 2021 The agreed protocols are part of the broader agreement to get the season underway, which the league and union agreed to on Monday. While there will not be a designated hitter in the National League or expanded 16-team playoffs, which the league sorely wanted, there will be seven-inning doubleheaders and runners on second base to start extra innings. “We have always prioritized the health and safety of all the athletes, volunteers, spectators, and the community and that will not change,” said Michael O’Neil , president of the Boston Triathlon. “We have developed new safety protocols as a result of COVID-19 that will be integrated with federal, state and local guidelines, and we are confident that we can deliver a safe event.” “As it becomes our turn, if you will, I think we will certainly have those conversations and we will make sure whether it’s players, coaches, staff, that everyone who is eligible and able to be vaccinated has that opportunity,” Sills said. While not of legal recourse for fans, the ability for colleges to mandate vaccine requirements was boosted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s recent denial of an emergency application to bar Indiana University from requiring faculty, staff and students be vaccinated. While it lacks the impact of a full Supreme Court ruling, should Barrett’s views reflect a majority of the justices, vaccine directives will be seen as lawful conditions. While the NCAA has issued a series of recommendations for testing, quarantine and isolation, the Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has announced that all athletes and athletic personnel in the conference must be vaccinated against COVID-19, following an earlier announcement of a similar policy by the Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Few cities love hockey as much as Montreal — so when fans of the Canadiens were able to be at a game for the first time in more than a year, it was worth singing about. And here’s something that will make those fans even happier: Should Montreal advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals, the team will remain at home. U.S. athletes will not be able to participate independently at the event. It is not the first time that the U.S. has skipped a world event; USA Wrestling made a similar decision in 2002 when it missed the Senior World Freestyle Championships in Tehran, Iran, after the NGB received “specific and credible information from an official source that the safety of the U.S. delegation could not be guaranteed if a USA Wrestling delegation attended.” The XFL said plans to return in the spring of 2022 are on hold. The CFL, which canceled its 2020 season after being unable to secure $30 million in aid from the Canadian government, is scheduled to play the 2021 season starting with preseason in May. The ATP Tour says that all subsequent sections of the 2021 calendar after the Miami Open remain unchanged at this time. The IOC had stipulated that no family could travel to Tokyo due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Gaucher pointed out that international media and sponsors may travel to Tokyo and a capped number of Japanese spectators will be allowed in venues. “Our policy decisions were made after careful consideration and discussions with Mercedes-Benz Stadium and our participating teams,” said Gary Stokan , chief executive officer and president of Peach Bowl, Inc. “These protocols are consistent with all other recent events hosted at the stadium, and fan response has been very positive.” • The Maryland Cycling Classic , scheduled for its debut on the UCI Pro Series calendar in September, will be postponed to 2021. The announcement was made by the event organizer with state, city and Baltimore County partners. Organizers also announced UnitedHealthcare has signed on as the presenting sponsor of the race starting in 2021. The UCI, cycling’s international federation, will announce its 2021 calendar later this year with the event’s date announced at that time. The event is owned by Sport and Entertainment Corp. of Maryland in conjunction with the Maryland Sports Commission . Clubs will have the flexibility to construct the giveaway to their own specifications including where the event is hosted, when it takes place and if the tickets are good for that day’s game or a game later in the 2021 season. Clubs will work with a local healthcare provider or a national pharmacy provider to administer the shots and provide the necessary on-site health and safety precautions. Tennessee General Manager Jon Robinson said the Titans have a 97 percent vaccination rate among players. Tannehill is fully vaccinated and per NFL rules will need two consecutive negative PCR tests over a 24-hour period in order to rejoin the team as long as he is asymptomatic. Meanwhile, test events continue in Tokyo in advance of the Olympic Games themselves. Four test events were held over the past week in diving, marathon and track and field. More than 700 athletes and 6,000 participants took part in the events, with the lone positive COVID-19 test coming from an official at the diving event who was immediately quarantined. The Syracuse men’s basketball program is in its third program pause in a six-week period after stopped two days after an overtime win over the University of Buffalo on December 19. The Bulls had a player test positive two days after the game, triggering contact tracing protocols. The Orange already have postponed games against Notre Dame on December 22, Wake Forest on December 30 and North Carolina on January 2. Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and an unnamed player tested positive in mid-November and team activities were paused for two weeks; a walk-on also tested positive in late November, forcing a three-day pause. “The NWHL is excited to provide hockey fans a fast-paced schedule of thrilling games on the road to the Isobel Cup,” said NWHL Interim Commissioner Tyler Tumminia . “At a time of hyper-growth for girls’ and women’s hockey, we see this season as a celebration of the sport. This will be a historic moment as the hallowed arena that was the site of the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 hosts its first women’s professional championship.” But the playoffs have gone off without a hitch — a few teams have had positive COVID-19 tests but not enough to warrant a postponement — and MLS Commissioner Don Garber made a point of saying “we were the only league in the world to play in a bubble and continue in our markets with a regular season and then complete a postseason in our local markets,” during his State of the League address on Tuesday. The World Baseball Softball Confederation will reschedule the U-12 Baseball World Cup in Tainan, Taiwan to the summer of 2022. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, the youth world championship was first postponed to later this year due to the ongoing pandemic. There will be no exception to the age bracket and players born in 2010 and 2011 will be eligible to be selected onto their respective national teams. Tainan will host the next four editions of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup at Tainan Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium. The negative test was on Thursday afternoon and makes it possible that the positive test on Wednesday was a false positive. Alabama Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Allen said Saban was evaluated by a team physician on Friday and remains asymptomatic. If Saban is tested again on Friday afternoon and it comes up negative, he would be allowed to return to full activity. That led to a natural question among those who follow college sports: If basketball is already saying that a “controlled environment” is the only way to hold the NCAA Men’s Tournament, then how would the College Football Playoff expected to be held at multiple sites in January? And at a press conference Wednesday shortly after he was elected to a new term as IOC president, Thomas Bach said no decision has been made but that when it comes, it will be the result of conversations with all involved, including, of course, the organizing committee in Tokyo. Silver also touched on the status of the Toronto Raptors being able to play next season at home after spending the 2020–2021 campaign in Tampa, Florida. Teams could still volunteer to play international games — something that the Jacksonville Jaguars have in the past been eager to do in setting a footprint within London, where Jaguars owner Shadid Khan also owns a Premier League team in Fulham, whereas the Green Bay Packers have never played an international game. “We want to thank Governor Cuomo for his decision, which will allow more fans into Yankee Stadium and provide us additional opportunities to further encourage people to get vaccinated,” the Yankees said in a statement. “We have been honored to host a vaccination site at Yankee Stadium over these last three months. If we can encourage more people to get vaccinated by giving away Yankees tickets, we are all in.” “This will not be a typical U.S. Open in several respects,” said John Bodenhamer , the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “Would it have been easier to simply cancel or even move the 2020 championship rather than play it in what has been the epicenter of the virus in our country? Possibly. But all of us at the USGA know how much the U.S. Open matters and we weren’t willing to give up on playing it at Winged Foot Golf Club so easily. We are very proud to give our competitors and champions a platform to chase their dreams. Their perseverance motivates us, in a year when such tenacity means so much .” U.S. Open spectators must show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend matches, a change announced by the U.S. Tennis Association on Friday after the New York City mayor’s office decided to require proof of vaccination to go into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main arena at the National Tennis Center. The USTA then opted to extend that rule to cover all ticket holders who are 12 and older and enter the grounds during the two-week Grand Slam tournament that begins Monday. The women’s tournament also did not have any teams withdraw because of positive COVID-19 tests in its controlled environment in San Antonio, a city where hundreds of visitors have been able to go maskless thanks to Texas’ reversal of a mask mandate weeks before the tournament’s opening tipoff. Meanwhile an online petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled has now received more than 200,000 signatures in two days. The petition, addressed to Bach and Suga, says the Games should not be held in order to protect public health. “The cancellation of this game is very disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans,” the league said. “At the same time it is further indication that our health and safety protocols are working in identifying positive cases and contact tracing cases. While all of us want to see our football student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to Pac-12 football programs.” The venue will also extend its vaccination clinics through the end of May; it has vaccinated approximately 100,000 people since it began operating as a site. What happens next for the NBA is to be determined. The league will not start its 2020–2021 season in its traditional fall date for obvious reasons. There was talk about a big Christmas Day debut for next season, although Silver and the players association seem to be leaning more toward January for a start date. Not just when the next season would start but also under what protocols — another bubble has received a tepid response from players given the time away from family, but the chances of having indoor events at this point still looks to be extremely uncertain. The relay will begin in Fukushima, which was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011 . The flame is supposed to travel through all of Japan’s 47 prefectures but the route may be modified. It will be live-streamed to deter mass gatherings on streets. During the two weeks before running, torchbearers are being asked to refrain from anything that might expose them to COVID-19 and they will be asked to complete a daily health checklist and wear masks when not running. There also was one wrinkle in the men’s plans for attendance. Six Indianapolis-area venues will be used to host the 2021 NCAA men’s baseball tournament–with capacities ranging from 8,500 at one of the Lucas Oil Stadium courts to the 500 fans, or 3 percent capacity, for Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Partnership for Clean Competition, a nonprofit that funds anti-doping research, has partnered with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to test athletes for COVID-19 with 25 athletes at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Centers tested — with one positive test and another athlete testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies. The Rugby League World Cup has been postponed to 2022 after two of its biggest names, Australia and New Zealand, both said it would not participate in the event in England because of COVID-19. “However, if we determine that mitigation measures were not followed adequately at the first game, we will have no fans at future games beginning with Oklahoma,” said Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard . The Cyclones published how it plans to seat fans at the stadium , as well as a plan for how fans will be expected to arrive and act at the games . The PGA Tour announced that its weekly COVID-19 testing will stop at the end of July with the 3M Open in Minneapolis — even if a player is not vaccinated. One of the Big Ten’s teams will be going on a pause this week, though, as Nebraska announced over the weekend that Coach Fred Hoiberg and seven players, plus four other team staffers, have contracted COVID-19. Hoiberg said he tested positive on Friday and has been isolating since and is experiencing symptoms; the number of positives on Nebraska was eye-catching but the Cornhuskers are far from the only team that have had an outbreak in the past week or two: Michigan State, Georgetown, West Virginia, Iowa State and Oregon all either paused activities or have dealt with outbreaks. Tempe will still host the event, which originally was to include Arizona State Sun Devil Draft-Legal Classic, in conjunction with the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Due to continued limits on mass gatherings in the region, those events cannot be rescheduled in 2020. Last month, the 2020 women’s college triathlon season was also canceled . The decision to resume competitions, the Pac-12 said, was based on updated Medical Advisory Committee recommendations. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said domestic passports are “the right way to go” for venues so “people can be confident that those who are attending those events are less likely to be carriers of the virus”, specifically referring to Premier League matches. He added if businesses “required a certain level of safety” from customers, then people who refused to get vaccinated should not be surprised if they were not allowed to attend. With each passing week, there are more scenes of normalcy at sporting events. This past Sunday saw crowds at the 18th green at the PGA Championship and the biggest crowd of the season at Madison Square Garden for the start of the NBA playoffs. Nearly every playoff game in the NBA is being played in front of five-figure crowds. “This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy due to Utah not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols,” the league said in a statement. “Under conference policy, the game will be declared a no contest. To establish social distancing at the marathon and reduce density at the start and finish, organizers intend to have a controllable and scalable time-trial start format instead of single mass gathering starts. NASCAR released its latest set of scheduled races, with 23 across its three series including seven Cup Series events that would carry the season through August 2. The schedule also includes six Xfinity Series races, five Trucks Series races and three ARCA events. That reinforces the enormity of Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that its recommended quarantine time for those exposed to COVID will be cut to seven days for those who test negative themselves and 10 days for those who don’t get a test. The league revealed Wednesday that its positivity rate from daily testing this season was 0.08% — by comparison, the state of Florida’s positivity rate according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center during the pandemic has been 8.84%. “We don’t think there was a safer place to be than NFL facilities,” Goodell said. The Mountain West’s announcement — “subject to approval from state, county and local officials” the league said — indicated that the 8-game season will end with a championship game on December 19. As it stands, the only FBS conference that will still be having a spring season is the Mid-American Conference along with independent schools Connecticut, Old Dominion and New Mexico State. Reportedly, the MAC is working on an abbreviated season similar to what the MWC and Pac-12 will be doing. Players, coaches and staff will go through strict testing and other protocols before arriving in Indianapolis and during the event. The U.S. team would likely be made up of G League players and others with European experience who are available for the event, which is FIBA’s championship for the Americas. Rescheduling the fight seems relatively easy compared to the lengths it took to get a third meeting between the pair on the docket. The first fight in December 2018 was a draw in which Fury was knocked down twice; Fury then scored a seventh-round TKO of Wilder in February 2020. Neither has appeared in the ring since. New Zealand and Ironman officials are committed to discussing how to bring the 70.3 World Championship event to Taupō in a future year. The 2023 World Championship taking place in Lahti, Finland will continue as planned. Give the NHL this much — it is not scared to break down walls for new events or for sponsorship, announcing on Tuesday that the official division names for the 2020–2021 season are the Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division and the MassMutual NHL East Division. And given the pandemic-related dive in revenue that any sports league has experienced, amateur or professional, the ability to innovate and create new inventory that would prove attractive to commercial sponsors and destinations will likely be needed for any organization. “While we are disappointed to have to cancel the marquee event on USA Triathlon’s National Championships calendar, health and safety concerns take precedence in this challenging time,” said Brian D’Amico , USA Triathlon director of events. “We are pleased to be able to offer deferrals to the 2021 or 2022 Age Group National Championships without the need to re-qualify, or to another USA Triathlon-owned event in 2021 or 2022. We appreciate our community’s patience and understanding during this unprecedented time, and we look forward to gathering again in Milwaukee next August.” The NFL took perhaps its strongest step yet in all but forcing players to become vaccinated on Thursday, telling teams that games will not be rescheduled this season due to a team outbreak and a club that cannot play because of players with COVID-19 will forfeit the game. Track officials had released a plan for social distancing throughout the complex to allow for 25 percent of capacity to attend and earlier vowed it would cancel the event rather than hold it without fans. The Indianapolis 500 will run for the 104th time this month and traditionally draws over 257,000 fans each year. Along with the four players that have tested positive, seven others were quarantining after being close contacts of those who tested positive. The Nationals did not have any positive COVID-19 tests during the six weeks of spring training. “We spent months recognizing and researching the key elements for a successful COVID mitigation plan applicable to a professional cycling event,” said Lucy Diaz , chief executive officer of RPM Events Group LLC. “It was a very collaborative process that included medical professionals, bio labs, state, county and city health officials and cycling industry professionals. We studied the protocols that were being put into place in our surrounding communities and what was being proposed in other professional sports.” Japan’s rate of vaccination among its population has increased but it still dramatically low compared to other countries at just over 5 percent. But the IOC said on Tuesday when announcing its latest set of COVID guidelines for the Games that up to 80 percent of the athletes that will be competing are vaccinated and that up to 80 percent of the accredited media expected to be in Tokyo are also vaccinated. Samuelson said on Instagram she is part of the 99 percent of WNBA players who are fully vaccinated. The IOC is pushing ahead with Tokyo because it depends on broadcast rights sales for almost 75% of its income. Sponsors supply about 18% of the IOC’s revenue, making it financially impossible for the organization to exist without the Olympics. “That spectators are not able to attend the Games from abroad — that is very disappointing and it’s regrettable,” she said. “It was an unavoidable decision.” The ATP and WTA Tours then head off to different regions of the country to start August, with the ATP Citi Open in Washington, D.C., headlined by Rafael Nadal and four Wimbledon quarterfinalists while the WTA Tour goes to San Jose for the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, the world’s longest-running women’s-only pro tennis event, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Citi Open will be limited to 50 percent capacity on attendance. The NFL is working on a policy for artificial crowd noise to be used at stadiums for those who will not have fans, NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent said during the conference call. Vincent said the league has a curated audio track but details such as the maximum decibel level allowed have not been determined. Manfred, however, told The Associated Press that he hopes to keep the extra-inning rule as well as an expanded playoff field. This year’s postseason, with the final three rounds being held in a bubble format, was expanded to 16 teams from its regular 10, although future expansion will be a matter for negotiations between Manfred and players union leader Tony Clark . FIFA had no comment on the remarks. Qatar’s buildup to the World Cup since winning the right to host in 2010 has been dogged by concerns about human rights violations and the treatment of the migrant workforce building eight stadiums. Under the new CBA, which will be extended through 2027, there will be a two-year freeze to the salary cap and allocation money that clubs are allowed to spend. Many other issues including free agency and the union’s share of future media-rights revenue were also included in the agreement. One underlying important part of the league’s operations are that, according to Garber, all teams will be traveling to road games exclusively via charter flights — something not typically done in pre-pandemic times. Purdue Coach Jeff Brohm revealed that he has tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday. Brohm is undergoing a PCR test to confirm the results of the test as his team is scheduled to start its season on October 24 against Iowa. While Big Ten athletes who test positive are required to be held out for 21 days, coaches follow CDC guidelines that call for 10 days of isolation. Cousins, in his first public comments about the issue on Thursday, said the size of Minnesota’s quarterback meeting room was the issue and “had we met in a larger room, I would not have missed practice. Because I was not a close contact as deemed by actually being in contact. So it was disappointing to miss practice. In my entire college and pro career, I have not missed four practices. So to miss four practices in one week and not have COVID was frustrating, disappointing.” In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets were eliminated on Sunday by the Phoenix Suns while one of its young stars, Jamal Murray , watched on the bench weeks after sustaining a torn ACL in his knee. And in the West semifinal that is still ongoing, the Utah Jazz hold a 2-1 lead on the Los Angeles Clippers despite not having guard Mike Conley yet in the series because of a mild right hamstring strain while its young star, Donovan Mitchell , is playing through an ankle injury that was first sustained in the regular season. Going into this weekend of NFL games, 19 out of the league’s 32 teams are allowing fans into the stadium in restricted numbers. “There’s so much going on as far as we’re trying to calm the virus down — and we’re putting on an event, you know?” Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden said. “I know what the reasoning is for, but I feel like, especially with a condensed schedule, it feels like everything was forced upon players.” The mask policy update in Atlanta comes as the Falcons told ESPN on Monday that the team is 100 percent fully vaccinated, the first NFL team to reach that benchmark. “I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas,” she said. The announcement had been expected with various reports indicating that football, in particular, could be played in the spring if conditions improve. There have been 102 fans present at games this year going into the final weekend and the league maintains that there are no documented cases of superspreader events at NFL games. The league made the declaration during a Wednesday call with reporters while announcing that over 1 million fans had been at games this season. Foreign fans have already been barred from attending the Games, a hammer blow to the promised economic benefits that a city and country would expect from hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Whereas the IOC gets more than 75 percent of its revenue from worldwide TV rights before even accounting for sponsor revenue, the hosts for the Olympics and Paralympics generate most of its revenue from ticket sales and tourist spending from worldwide fans coming to the Games. It sets up to be a terrific college basketball doubleheader on Friday night in San Antonio as the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament reaches the end. The postponement comes one day after Nationals star Trea Turner exited Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia in the first inning following a positive test for the virus. The matchup is scheduled to be made up as a straight doubleheader on Thursday afternoon. Since last March, 352 NCAA sports programs have been cut with budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus cited by many of the schools when announcing cuts. Even schools as big as Stanford will be making changes; the Cardinal announced this summer it will be cutting 11 of its 36 sports, including the powerhouse men’s volleyball program as the school’s president, provost and athletic director said the “financial model supporting 36 varsity sports is not sustainable” on a budget of roughly $140 million per year. After a season in which nearly each annual college basketball preseason tournament was canceled by the pandemic, ESPN Events has announced a full slate of participating teams for six of its 11 events — all of which will return for the 2021–2022 season. But the league, because of the delay on Saturday and the time change on Sunday, had to move the broadcasts from NBC to NBCSN, potentially losing out on big viewership numbers. The Saturday night game, in particular, did not start until midnight on the East Coast, which will hardly help the TV ratings when they are revealed this week. “I don’t see any scenario where we would agree with the league to move the Super Bowl,” Smith replied. “… We’ve had teams in Cleveland, where I think JC Tretter , our union president, was breaking down film because they didn’t have a coach; we saw the Denver Broncos head into a without a number of quarterbacks. I think it wouldn’t be fair to the rigor and the discipline that we’ve insisted that players have this year to move the Super Bowl. My hope, and certainly everybody’s hope, is that our players will continue to double down, do the great job that they’ve done all season, and we’ll get this fantastic game kicked off on time.” While the NFL put in strict protocols, including fines for coaches who did not keep their facial coverings on during games, college football has been filled with enough highlights of coaches going crazy with a mask pulled down around their necks for a six-part miniseries. While each school is a member of the NCAA, the college structure has significantly fractured in recent years. That was highlighted this season with conferences starting at different times, with different schedules and testing protocols along with contact tracing and eligibility rules. Add in health and safety protocols depending on the location of a school and the end result was an astonishing 139 regular-season games canceled. Cleveland fans, of course, will want to wonder why its team had to play last week without having the chance to have the game delayed a day, or why delaying this Sunday’s game is not an option when earlier this season, the Tennessee Titans had a game delayed. And while the NFL has said it wouldn’t postpone or cancel games for competitive reasons, Denver Broncos fans wonder why that was the case when it had no healthy quarterbacks last month and had to use a practice squad wide receiver at the position when the Baltimore Ravens had multiple games moved around while its team had an outbreak. The French Open , tennis’ clay-court Grand Slam that has been delayed one week after France went into a national lockdown, will allow players one hour each day to be outside of their controlled environments, the tournament organizers announced. Well, this year’s Wimbledon will be held — and this week it found out that it not only will be held but its ladies and gentleman’s singles championships have been approved to be played in front of full capacity crowds at the famous Centre Court by the UK government. Triple-A will be split into East and West Leagues and each league will be off every Monday, except for Triple-A West, which will be off each Wednesday. Teams in the Triple-A East League’s Northeast Division — Buffalo, Lehigh Valley, Rochester, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Syracuse and Worcester — will play entirely within their division for additional savings. Premier League rules require clubs to allow away fans access to 10 percent of stadium capacity, up to a maximum of 3,000. But the league on Wednesday morning said “following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximizing the opportunity for home-fan attendance.” “I don’t see the point of stalling it, because we all want to be safe, we all want to continue doing our jobs, and I know there is a lot of discussions about it,” she said. “If you actually have decent knowledge and looked into research and have your facts and stats and research, that’s a different conversation. But I feel that that part of conversation that, really, you need to be knowledgeable to what you’re saying is missing in a lot of players.” “The Pac-12 has, after consultation with Washington State University, cancelled the Washington State at Stanford football game scheduled for November 21,” the league said in a statement. “This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy due to Washington State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols. Under conference policy, the game will be declared a no contest.” The University Interscholastic League said it focused the delay on larger schools in the state’s largest metropolitan areas. The Houston school district will not meet on campus until mid-October. The remaining tournaments on the 2019–2020 PGA Tour schedule will be played without spectators on site as the United States continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. “At that point,” Silver told Yahoo this week , “I couldn’t have imagined that we were about to shut down NBA as we knew it for essentially the next nine months or so. To me, at least in that moment, it seemed like we would be dealing with a relatively short-term issue.” “We had people out for quarantine due to contact tracing, we had a positive test on an administrative staff, then we had a positive test on a player,” Few said. “It’s how the preseason has went. You just wait to get the news on testing, then you have to react, have to stay agile. We followed COVID protocols with the tournament and the Florida health board down here have all been great. Our guys have been incredibly diligent about following all the rules.” Ayers was one of the referees during the A-10 title game between VCU and St. Bonaventure. Reports later indicated the virus may have spread to the Rams during the team’s stay in Dayton but did not show up in testing until Wednesday while only luck spared St. Bonaventure from having any positives before the Bonnies’ first-round loss to LSU on Friday. The wheelchair competition will now feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles and quad singles and doubles, with draw sizes similar to past U.S. Opens. Wheelchair athletes that compete will have to adhere to the same health and safety procedures as all players participating in the U.S. Open. “For our team, this was actually probably a little bit less strict than where we are at Stanford,” Cardinal Coach Tara Vanderveer said after Monday’s win. “You could be outside, people would not have masks on. Restaurants were open and things. That’s not the way it’s been for us in California. … I’m glad the NCAA has been very strict for us, because we want to be healthy. We’ve got to just stay with it, kind of get through this time, then hopefully our next year’s fall and winter, our tournament, will be back to normal.” Most NFL teams have communicated with its season ticket holders about the plans for 2020 with almost all of them allowing those who have season tickets to roll over their account to 2021. “It’s pretty amazing and great motivation for our fans and the state,” Kiffin told ESPN . At the top of mind is the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will start March 21 and be held in a controlled environment in San Antonio . The tournament will have first- and second-round games at five sites between San Antonio and the University of Texas in Austin before having the rest of the tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio with a restricted number of fans in attendance. After all, every week in college football is an adventure. Several teams decided that ending their seasons would be preferable to playing in the NIT: Louisville, Duke, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Xavier all turned down invitations to the 16-team tournament that will be played in Denton, Texas. Louisville is the first substitute team for the NCAA Tournament if a team is unable to play in Indianapolis. Plus, the playing of games this season has so far shown that one of the biggest fears going into the year — the potential for the virus to be transmitted through physical contact in games — has not happened. NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills , pointed out to the Boston Globe that in the days after the Tennessee Titans played the Minnesota Vikings, more than two dozen Titans later were shown to be COVID-19 positive but no Vikings player was infected. Laszlo Papp Arena in Hungary was unavailable to host later in 2020 and the same regulatory challenges are facing the indoor gathering as well. The event features the top 12 nations competing over a week of competition. The 2021 event will be staged April 13–18. Sportsnet said that the games will be held around the 16 th , 17 th and 18 th holes at the Edgewood Resort — home each summer to the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. No fans will be allowed to attend; having the event on the Nevada side of the Lake Tahoe region also makes it easier for the league given that current California COVID-19 restrictions prohibit non-essential travel in and out of the Tahoe area. The LPGA Tour will resume its season with back-to-back events in Northwest Ohio starting July 23 with the Marathon LPGA Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio. That event will be followed by a new three-day event in the Toledo area, the LPGA Drive On Championship starting July 31 at Inverness Club. The LPGA Drive On Championship will feature 144 players competing for a $1 million purse and will take place without sponsors, pro-ams or spectators. The delay from 2020 to 2021 cost the Tokyo organizing committee a reported $2.8 billion. A recent Fortune article cited Katsuhiro Miyamoto , an honorary economics professor at Kansai University, saying Japan’s economy will suffer a $22 billion shortfall if spectators are banned with a $13 billion shortfall even if the stands are half-full. Those attending games must continue to wear masks, with compliance to be monitored. Restrictions on the sale of food and beverages on match days remain in force, with the consumption of tobacco and related products also banned. “The committee spent considerable time if they should weigh in on some formal or informal way in this environment,” NCAA Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said during the SportsTravel Podcast released on Monday . “Ultimately, they decided not to do that. … What the tournament committee can’t control is before , only upon inclusion and arrival will be our responsibility. Whatever happens before has to be decided at the conference level.” According to both ESPN and The Athletic, the league does hope to have fans at games in some of its markets depending on health regulations. Initial reports indicate for any team that would have permission to host a restricted number of fans at games, there would be COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and facial coverings strictly mandated; Lacob said the Warriors would make sure fans in their proposed plans follow the league’s requirements. The NFL player vaccination rate has increased since the start of training camp and The Athletic reported Wednesday that 93.5 percent of players are vaccinated with 17 teams above 95 percent and no teams below 80 percent. While the numbers are impressive, the NFLPA has pushed for the resumption of daily testing given the number of breakthrough cases in training camp — unvaccinated players remain subject to daily testing this season but vaccinated players will be tested on a weekly basis. How many masks do you see? In this crowd shot from the #Auburn vs. #Georgia @SEC football game, I see 2 fans wearing masks. TWO!!! ???? ???? pic.twitter.com/oO2yGmksv3 — Kyle Serba October 3, 2020 The USTA also has set up virtual player boxes for those who play at Ashe Stadium to invite guests to be part of the experience through the LED boards in Arthur Ashe Stadium with live interaction during select moments such as changeovers. Mountain West “aggressively exploring” options to play 8-game fall season, culminating w/Dec. 19 MW title game, sources told @Stadium . This would allow league to be eligible for NY6 bowls. Not all schools might play w/Hawaii, Fresno & Air Force biggest unknowns for full season— Brett McMurphy September 17, 2020 The Philadelphia Eagles were the third team to roll back fan attendance policies after the city of Philadelphia announced new outdoor restrictions this week. The Eagles had been allowed up to 7,500 for the past three home games; the team does not play again at home until November 30 against Seattle and will definitely not have fans in attendance, although the team said it would work with the city if changes to the policy would be allowed for the Eagles’ final two home games in December. “I think it’s honestly ridiculous that there will be on the surface what appears to be a playing field that’s like that, inconsistently across the league with the different away stadiums,” McDermott said. “We can’t have a traveling circuit right now,” Zverev said after losing to Djokovic in the men’s quarterfinals on Tuesday night. “I think what the ATP should do and should look into is maybe having a venue like here and play multiple weeks at one place. Multiple tournaments, multiple weeks. Because, at the end of the day, in Europe right now, we can’t have spectators anyways, so what difference does it really make where we play the tournament?” “We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to hold the BNP Paribas Open in October and bring professional tennis back to the desert,” Tournament Director Tommy Haas said on Friday . “We have never wavered in our desire to create an unforgettable experience this fall in Tennis Paradise for our fans, players and sponsors.” The ACC will not have the broader public in attendance in Greensboro, North Carolina, and only will allow family and guests of team personnel. The Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City will have 20 percent capacity at the T-Mobile Center; the Big Ten Tournament will have its conference tournament in Indianapolis instead of Chicago so the conference champion — and other teams likely to be awarded at-large NCAA bids — will already be in the region and can enter the controlled environment quickly. The NBA board of governors approved a plan that will restart the league in late July with all games held at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex on the Disney campus near Orlando , Florida . The players union is expected to give its approval to the plan on Friday. While there has been a rise in the past two weeks for sports venues requiring fans to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, the last Grand Slam of the tennis season had decided not to do that — before a late change of plans only four days before the tournament’s first serve. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup board and World Rugby executive committee next week. Nine teams including the United States have qualified for the 12-team tournament. “No final agreement or decision has been made to this point regarding the possible participation of NHL Players in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics,” the NHL said last week. “Talks remain ongoing. … If, for whatever reason, there is no NHL Player participation in the Olympics, a revised Regular Season schedule will be released which, to the greatest extent possible, will adopt the dates and games reflected in the schedule contemplating Olympic participation.” The only league in the FCS that will not have a spring season is the Ivy League. One of the leagues that was scheduled to play this spring, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, has already had to suspend play because six of its nine schools opted out of the season. Delaware State, Howard and South Carolina State will still play as many games as possible. So while the Buccaneers’ last home game had 25 percent capacity, it became big news when ESPN reported the NFL had already settled upon the Super Bowl being held with 20 percent capacity, or approximately 13,000 people. The report this week was swiftly denied by the NFL and for many potential reasons. Having an already agreed-upon capacity and attendance count would be news to ticket groups who are still waiting news on their potential allocations although there were also reports that during a conference call with sponsors, networks and more this week that the league told listeners that all 134 suites will be available, which would be a major development and source of calm for some ticket groups. The season will be a busy one for the league beyond the 34 scheduled regular season matches. The league plans on having the MLS All-Star game against the Liga MX All-Stars in Los Angeles as well as the two leagues facing in the Campeones Cup and Leagues Cup. MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions League in 2021 — in addition to players being called up to their respective national teams for events such as FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifying, CONCACAF Nations League Finals, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Copa América, European Championship and Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. Well, you’re scheduled to play ball at least. Two days after those comments, the Gamecocks announced they were pulling out of the game because of an outbreak among players. The bowl game shortly after then announced it, too, would be canceled. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank Mayor Lightfoot for her shared commitment to a responsible resumption of fan attendance in Chicago, under protocols designed to promote safety,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “MLB will continue to urge fans to follow best practices for health and safety in the fight against COVID-19.” The Australian Open will have half its usual daily attendance with the cap imposed by the sports minister of the state of Victoria because of COVID-19 restrictions. Australia has some of the tightest COVID restrictions in the world, which led to more than its fair share of attention when players coming into the country that had either tested positive or were a close contact of somebody who tested positive were put into a strict quarantine for two weeks. Since there is not much time left to say it: This story is sooooooo 2020 . Having gone the entire season — such as it has been — without fans in attendance, will have up to 11,500 fans in attendance at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas , when the new home of the Texas Rangers hosts the National League Championship Series and World Series later this month. “The challenges and obstacles are many, but the opportunity is great,” Garber said. “Like everything with us, we’ll do the work and figure out if it can be possible at some point way in the future.” The Tour of the Gila, one of two UCI stage races scheduled to be in the United States this year, has been cancelled because of the number of rising COVID-19 cases in the state of New Mexico. Notre Dame's upcoming game on Sept. 26 against Wake Forest has been postponed. London is calling again for the National Football League, which will use its expanded 17-game regular season to increase the number of international games starting in the 2022 season. Massive participatory sporting events are starting to gain momentum for vaccination requirements as well. The Chicago Marathon on October 10, organizers announced this week, will be only for registered participants able to show they are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of participating. All attendees are required to wear face coverings at indoor event venues and participants are encouraged to wear face coverings in Grant Park prior to starting the race. Due to Yankee Stadium being unavailable, New York City FC will play games at Red Bull Arena, the home of rivals New York Red Bulls. Another issue is the league’s three Canadian teams in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; those teams play each other twice before possibly having a U.S. base for the rest of the season due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. The costs of the season were prohibitive. Garber estimates that leaguewide revenue will be down nearly $1 billion compared with last year with the league incurring unforeseen expenses in organizing the MLS Is Back Tournament. And for the rest of the season, every team traveled on charter flights to cut down on outside exposure other than games. The Las Vegas Raiders are requiring proof of vaccination for fans to be at Allegiant Stadium this season. Multiple teams including the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers are encouraging fans to wear masks but are not requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry. L.A. Rams and L.A. Chargers fans must wear masks because of county health regulations. Turkey was scheduled to host the 2020 final before the pandemic suspended the 2019–2020 Champions League campaign. When it resumed, the remaining quarterfinals, plus the semifinal and final, were held without fans in Lisbon, Portugal. Multiple reports say that Turkey will be expecting significant financial compensation if the final is taken away again from Ataturk Stadium after having spent more than $28 million in renovations. Playing the game with fans and sponsor guests is crucial for UEFA after finishing last season’s competition without spectators; Portugal’s coronavirus restrictions are now being eased. The Athletic reported on Monday that LSU was down to one scholarship quarterback and no tight ends or long snappers; when it comes to LSU and COVID, remember that coach Ed Orgeron said in the preseason that “most of our players have caught it. I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not out for games.” That said, the NBA has tried to turn the weekend away from a conversation about the game’s appropriateness, or the COVID testing from throughout the season and concerns about the openness of some of the league’s cities, into a celebration and show of support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as communities of color impacted by COVID-19. The league, which after those teams were withdrawn were able to get through the rest of the bubble tournament without any positives, are now dealing with an outbreak on another team — this time the Colorado Rapids, which had another staffer test positive today and had its game scheduled for tonight at home against LAFC postponed . “We remain confident there are still multiple options for our tournaments to be held in Montreal and Toronto this August, such as in broadcast-only or limited-fan models, both of which have already been planned for in detail,” Eugene Lapierre , tournament director of the Montreal event, told The Canadian Press in a statement. The AHL and ECHL, like every other minor league in the United States, are much more reliant on revenue that comes from ticket sales, local sponsorships and having fans in attendance. While major leagues such as the NHL were able to complete seasons in a controlled bubble environment, the AHL and ECHL cancelled its seasons and did not have its respective playoffs because for many teams, the financial challenges of playing without fans was substantial. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp and the preseason in June. Fully vaccinated players are given vastly different freedoms than their non-vaccinated teammates, including not having to wear masks or undergo daily testing.  Players not fully vaccinated will have a daily COVID-19 test, wear masks, continue social distancing and will not be allowed to leave the team hotel when on the road. The league does not require players to be vaccinated but those who do not are under strict protocols and teams who cannot play due to a COVID-19 outbreak among their unvaccinated players may also have to forfeit games. The 76ers had eight healthy players in that game but only used seven because one of them, Mike Scott , was just returning from injury. Rivers made the point that not only does the league have to worry about players either contracting COVID-19 or coming into contact with somebody who has the virus, playing games with depleted rosters after a shortened offseason raises the risk of serious injury for those who do play. All five tournaments since the Tour returned have been played without fans and there were plans to reintroduce spectators in a limited capacity at this week’s Memorial Tournament before those plans were scrapped as numbers spiked across the country. Goodell noted one of the biggest achievements off the field was the evolution of the league’s relationship with the . Having agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement shortly before the pandemic started, the league and union worked together on this season’s health and safety protocols. In an era where there has been labor drama in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League, the collaborative nature between the NFL and NFLPA stood out. Under the state’s color-coded tier system, teams in counties in the purple tier can admit no more than 100 fans without the ability to have concessions or fans from outside the county. Teams in counties in the red tier can play to 20 percent of capacity and sell concessions. “It definitely poses a competitive advantage for higher vaccine rates on your team just because of the close contact and what happens if somebody does unfortunately get COVID, what can happen to the rest of the building,” Mayfield said. “It’s a competitive advantage but it’s also way more than that. It’s about safety and just general health and well-being of human life. So I’d leave it at that.” “There will be Team USA athletes who do not choose to take a vaccine and we will respect that right,” Hirshland said, noting that USOPC medical officials are working to make sure athletes know all the pertinent information about vaccinations. “There are a variety of factors that may play into those decisions. … That said, I believe a vast majority of athletes will choose to take the vaccine.” The two nations pulled out two weeks ago, citing safety concerns amid the pandemic. New dates will need to be found for the tournament, which would be in 2022 held around the same time as the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Venues will also need to be rebooked. As the NCAA gets ready to launch March Madness in its most unusual form this year, those responsible for catering to the expected spectators are making plans of their own. Centerplate will be the company behind concessions at Lucas Oil Stadium, which will host 15 games over eight days of the men’s Division I tournament, including the Final Four and championship game. That will all be determined in the coming weeks and months. For now, the organizers will breathe a large sigh of relief that the games were played, the TV commitments were fulfilled and the season was completed. It was a season full of stops and starts, traditional powerhouses struggling like never before and, finally, a series of high-quality games that showcased the best of what college basketball can be. Like any sporting event held over the past year, there were some off-court moments that reminded fans of what remains ongoing in the world. The men’s tournament first-round matchup between VCU and Oregon was declared a no-contest after VCU had to withdraw with a series of positive COVID-19 tests affecting the program. One of the most popular restaurants in Indianapolis and a place that would have been packed nonstop in non-pandemic big-event times, St. Elmo Steak House, closed over the weekend after multiple employees tested positive for coronavirus . Other than Central State University of Ohio, the SIAC consists mostly of HBCU schools in the Southern United States with five teams in Georgia, three in Alabama, two in Tennessee and South Carolina along with one in Kentucky. Euro 2020 event has gone on with few interruptions from COVID — one of Scotland’s players tested positive this week, forcing two England players to self-isolate — and if anything, the tournament has been marked more by non-COVID incidents both on the field and off. Denmark star Christian Eriksen collapsed early in his team’s first group stage game after suffering from cardiac arrest; he was discharged from a hospital in Copenhagen last week following an operation to fit a defibrillator. Among the three new additions on the COVID list is second-year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb . The Cowboys say 93 percent of their players are fully vaccinated, which would account for 80 of 86 players on the roster. “This isn’t just your regular win during the regular season,” Canucks Coach Travis Green said. “It’s a special win. We’ve gone through a lot here with our group over the last few weeks.” The regular season would start around July 31 and have eight games for all 22 teams invited to Florida to determine playoff seeding. There would be 13 teams from the Western Conference and nine teams from the Eastern Conference participating, with the cutoff that teams must be within six games of a playoff spot to participate. The playoffs would then begin in August and the NBA Finals would stretch into the fall with the NBA Finals finishing on or before October 12. For an NBA play-in series to happen to determine the No. 8 seed on either playoff bracket, the ninth-place team would have to be within four games of eighth place once the eight-game schedule is completed. The NWHL’s sixth season will culminate with semifinals on March 26 between Toronto and Boston, followed by Minnesota and Connecticut. The championship game will be at 7 p.m. EST on March 27. NBCSN will broadcast all of the games, the first women’s professional hockey league championship games to air on a major national network in the United States. A deal has been agreed to between the league and players union for the postseason bubble concept., with the playoffs held at stadiums in Southern California and Texas. The World Series would be held at MLB’s newest ballpark, Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas , home of the Texas Rangers . Houston’s game on Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers will be held as scheduled after an off day on Monday; the Astros were scheduled to play the A’s on Sunday before that game was postponed as well. The NHL, like many professional leagues, is finding that the pandemic is having a multi-season effect on the financial revenues. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that revenue generated by fans attending and spending money at games is roughly 50 percent of the league’s overall revenue — hence the decision by the league, for this year at least, to allow teams to sell spots on player helmets to advertisers. The league also has sold the naming rights to each of its realigned divisions, another move the league emphasized was for this season only. The Big Ten Conference, which had postponed its football season temporarily to the spring before a hasty rework saw it schedule a compressed fall schedule, is already seeing the difficulties that may occur with attempting to play eight games in eight weeks. The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills , told reporters on Thursday afternoon that nearly 93 percent of the league’s players are vaccinated and that after more than 7,000 tests since August 1, there have been 68 positives. He also said that the NFL’s testing shows seven times more positive tests among unvaccinated players compared to vaccinated. The upcoming international break on the world soccer calendar was scheduled to have, in South America, a pair of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. But the South American Football Confederation had to cancel the games because of strict quarantine restrictions on cross-border travel, especially for players who would be leaving European countries and then trying to return to their club teams. Unlike college basketball, the NBA has a thorough booklet of collectively bargained protocols that in the Trail Blazers’ case were invoked on Sunday, which would have been its first day of group workouts. Instead, the facility underwent a deep cleaning after three positive COVID-19 tests in a four-day span within the organization. “Most of the survey results were consistent with the responses from a month ago,” said Huddle Up Group Founder CEO Jon Schmieder . “However there were several subtle shifts that host destinations and event owners should pay attention to going forward. These parents are essentially the decision makers for their kids, and thusly our primary client in the end, so we need to make sure we are all in tune with their viewpoints on the issues of safety.” The NFR was born in Texas and the first three years of the event were held at the Dallas State Fairgrounds beginning in 1959. The event has been staged at the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV in Las Vegas since 1985. That venue is not available for live entertainment with fans this year due to coronavirus restrictions in Nevada. But in the piece published in the medical journal, researchers said the published measures so far do not go far enough to prevent the spread of the virus. The article noted that when the IOC postponed the Tokyo Olympics in March 2020, Japan had 865 active cases of COVID-19 while the number of cases known worldwide was 385,000. Today, Japan has more than 17,000 cases with more than 19 million registered globally. Sweat’s comments came right after WFT Coach Ron Rivera brought Harvard Immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett in to speak to players, a sign of one approach teams are taking. A different approach occurred in Tampa Bay, where Buccaneers Coach Bruce Arians did not bring in a specialist because “I’m the specialist. If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated.” For its part, the IOC has been nothing if not consistent with its messaging that the Games will go on no matter the circumstances. “We are grateful for the CDC’s ongoing guidance and collaboration since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Allen Sills , the NFL’s chief medical officer and a co-author of the paper. “The publication today is a demonstration of the league’s commitment to meaningfully contribute to the body of medical and scientific knowledge about the virus. Partnering with the CDC to share findings from our season with the public health community is important to society as other workplaces, institutions and organizations look for effective strategies to reduce the risk of the virus.” For future reference, here's my full college hoops quarantine list: SnGVCuF6W — SBUnfurled December 5, 2020 first reply pic.twitter.com/GBH3zSB89D — Josh Crutchmer November 9, 2020 The Army-Navy football game , an event typically filled with spectacle and a sold-out crowd at an NFL stadium, will move back to where it all began—West Point—in an effort to reduce the event’s size during the pandemic. Army Director of Athletics Mike Buddie and Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced today that the 121st playing of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA will be played December 12. “We may look at different ways to reduce the risk for our personnel — whether they’re players, coaches or other personnel — that would limit exposures to others,” Goodell said. “We will continue to evaluate that and we will continue to make those changes as necessary.” Even ahead of the NCAA tournament and knowing the importance of having that financial benefit from participating, conferences are also realizing the abnormalities of this season and adjusting some of their tournament procedures. The Southland Conference has agreed to expand its postseason tournaments for men and women to 10 teams from the previous eight. The Patriot League also waived a rule that requires teams to play 12 conference games to be eligible for the conference tournament for men and women; the Bucknell women’s team is undefeated at 6-0 while only one women’s team has played 12 games so far. The tournament’s organizers had said during a Wednesday conference call that they were comfortable with the health and safety protocols in place after they were signed off by the New York City’s department of health. ESPN reported that in a phone call with general managers , Commissioner Rob Manfred said vaccination of players and staff is something the league will do as soon as possible. Because it involves professional sports, the question of if players “skip the line” and get vaccinated ahead of the general public also has been a topic of discussion . Until there is a relaxing of health protocols, players will not be allowed to be at indoor restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and cannot be at a gathering with 10 or more people; there will also be tests every other day during spring training and throughout the regular season with twice-daily temperature checks. And players who test positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and be cleared to resume playing only following a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that the individual no longer presents a risk of infection to others. But for each men’s player endorsing vaccination, there have been other high-profile players vocal in their questioning of vaccination including top-five seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas , Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev . The number one seed on the men’s side, Novak Djokovic, has been a notable vaccine skeptic, refusing to say if he has been vaccinated; Djokovic tested positive for coronavirus last year after an exhibition event he organized in Croatia during the height of the pandemic. Wimbledon’s adherence to COVID protocols for participants is a forerunner for the British Open later this month at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England. According to ESPN , players were sent a memo that said the major will “operate under strict government oversight from the UK government.” Iona Sacred Heart Belmont SE LA Rider Marshall Stetson UMass Lowell Oakland USC Upstate November 15, 2020 The Colonial Athletic Association has become the latest collegiate conference to suspend football competition for the fall, citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Conference officials said they would explore playing the sport in the spring. “This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership,” the track said in a statement. “As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened. Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled. We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment.” That is why the NFL, as the most prominent example this week, had Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills go on NFL Network this week and say the league has “no intention” to require vaccination for players and coaches. Every other professional league in the U.S. has said similar things about not requiring players or staffers to be vaccinated, as well as they would not be ‘skipping the line’ to get vaccinations for people. The Colts reportedly have one of the lower team vaccination rates in the NFL, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said his team is 100 percent vaccinated, joining the Atlanta Falcons as the only teams at that mark. Should a game involving Clemson, Miami or Notre Dame not be played this weekend, the ACC could reschedule games on December 12. Notre Dame has already clinched a spot in the title game and Clemson can do the same with a win on Saturday against Virginia Tech. Under the NFL’s tracing protocols, every player, coach and staff member must wear a proximity device to record distance between devices and time in close contact inside team facilities, during practice and games and during travel. The league will define close contact as being within six feet of someone for about 15 minutes or direct physical contact during practices, games or travel. The leadership at both Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center, which will host team practices for all teams in the tournament, come with experience. General Manager Lynda Fonderoli will be involved with the Final Four for the seventh time in her career, having worked for Centerplate for more than 28 years. The culinary efforts will be led by Chef Shimelis Adem , who has also hosted the three previous college basketball championships at the stadium, as well as the Super Bowl. The Patriot League’s official statement included the note that decisions on winter and spring sports will be made at a later date.  The conference’s core members include American University, Army, Boston University, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola and Navy. The most notable football game that will be canceled in the fall is the annual Lafayette vs. Lehigh game; it will be the first time the teams have not played since 1896 and only the second time they will not meet in a calendar year since the rivalry started in 1884. Goodell’s letter came as the NFL’s chief medical officer Allen Sills told ESPN that the league does not plan to utilize a bubble concept in one location  and will instead focus on handling testing in each team’s market and responding quickly to any positives that could occur. CONCACAF’s Champions League tournament, which resumes in December with the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship from December 15–22, will be held at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, home to Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC and the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. A group of concession workers at Oracle Park, home to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, have voted to strike in part because of COVID-19 safety concerns that have lingered this season. The National Junior College Athletic Association will adjust its sports schedule and move all fall semester sports competition, including football, to the spring semester. The decision came after the recommendations from the NJCAA Presidential Advisory Council and the NJCAA Board of Regents. The plan of action will move all close-contact fall sports to the spring semester including football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball. The March Madness trademark discrepancy literally extends to the court as well. In Indianapolis at the men’s tournament, each venue has an NCAA-branded court with “March Madness” at the center circle. For the women’s event, only two NCAA-branded courts are being used — both in the Alamodome — and they have “NCAA Women’s Basketball” on it. The phrasing took on additional meaning when the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the NCAA executives overseeing women’s basketball requested to use the March Madness brand in recent years and were rebuffed by the NCAA. Bach still refers to Tokyo as “the best prepared Olympics ever” and while he may be meaning it as a compliment, it is fair to say that a large portion of the public feels like he is almost mocking them. While nearly 18 months ago the city unveiled the new National Stadium and seemed ready to open up to the world for the biggest sporting event held there since 1964, now there will be nearly no one in attendance and the official cost of $15.4 billion to organize the Games is seen as maybe half of what the real costs are, with all but $6.7 billion of that being public money. The USA Gymnastics Championships serves as the annual national championships for the acrobatic, rhythmic, and trampoline and tumbling disciplines, as well as the final Olympic selection event for rhythmic and trampoline in 2021. The 2021 National Congress and Trade Show will be held as planned at the America’s Center Convention Complex. But just because it did not take a massive financial hit does not mean that FIFA would not turn down the chance to make more money. As FIFA President Gianni Infantino himself said at a recent FIFA Congress, “You don’t need to be an Einstein to know that if you have the World Cup every two years you double the revenue.” Even within the four-person “bubble” for players, they are not allowed to be in contact with other players off the course. They will not be allowed to visit restaurants, bars or grocery stores. If players and their groups decided to stay in a hotel, it had to be approved by the R&A — which also had final approval on rental housing should players decide not to stay in a hotel. The bowling center will have 300 fans on hand at Thunderbowl Arena Bay while following health and safety protocols to protect the safety of the PBA players and staff. All ticketholders will be required to wear a face covering at all times except while actively eating or drinking in their ticketed area. Around Tampa, the Super Bowl Experience area has already been booked full for the week with fans having to reserve time slots for the in-person event along the Tampa Bay Riverwalk area, And Mayor Jane Castor issued an executive order on Thursday requiring masks to be worn outdoors within areas of downtown Tampa and the area surrounding Raymond James Stadium and “entertainment districts.” Having a spotlight women’s game canceled comes a few days after a powerhouse men’s program, Villanova, had to postpone three games.  The team paused activities within 24 hours of having resumed practice following COVID-19 issues within the program, including Coach Jay Wright , that forced a stoppage on December 27. And Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is self-isolating with his wife, Mickie , after they were exposed to a family member who later tested positive; the Blue Devils coach will miss Wednesday’s game against Boston College and possibly a scheduled game Saturday against Wake Forest. Krzyzewski is one of several coaches who have been critical of playing the season, having earlier canceled the rest of their non-conference schedule over coronavirus concerns. As the league deals with its first outbreak on a team, two more franchises — Houston and Tampa Bay — announced plans to have fans on site for games this coming Sunday. The Texans announced that up to 13,300 fans will be allowed for the team’s game, scheduled against the Vikings, while the Buccaneers will have a limited number of season-ticket holders on hand against the San Diego Chargers with the goal of having up to 25% capacity for its October 18 home game, announced the Tampa Sports Authority . At this point, it may be a shorter list for those pro teams that have not started an incentive program and more a case of which teams are trying to come up with the best