Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
Australian PM says no evidence coronavirus originated in China laboratory, urges inquiry
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has angered Beijing by calling for a global inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak, said he had no evidence to suggest the disease originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to describe the evidence he said he had seen.
Bettman: ’20-21 season could start as late as December
The NHL is in no rush to return from its shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with commissioner Gary Bettman saying the end of the current season could push back the start of next season as far as December. Speaking Thursday on NHL Network, Bettman said, “We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start. There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration.
Spieth’s hole-in-one wrecked by cup spacer
A golf-hole gadget in place due to the coronavirus pandemic cost Jordan Spieth a hole-in-one on Thursday. Playing in a charity event at his home course, Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, Spieth saw his tee shot hit the “spacer” placed inside the cup on the 17th green and bounce away into a water hazard.
Rapinoe offers to be Biden’s running mate
Megan Rapinoe, the reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, is eyeing another prestigious title: vice president of the United States of America. The 34-year-old soccer star told presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday that she is willing to serve as his running mate.
Serena, NFL players to compete in charity virtual tennis event
Tennis stars Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka plus NFL players DeAndre Hopkins and Ryan Tannehill are among the celebrities who will participate in a virtual charity tennis tournament. The “Stay at Home Slam” will be streamed Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on Facebook Gaming and on the tennis Facebook page of the company coordinating the tournament, IMG.
WADA hands over findings on Russian drug cheats
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Thursday its investigation into 298 Russian athletes targeted in a doping probe has been completed and the findings passed onto international federations for further action. Code named “Operation LIMS”, the probe conducted by WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations committee examined institutionalised doping in Russia using data mined from the Moscow laboratory at the heart of the scandal.
NASCAR to resume season in mid-May without spectators
NASCAR will be the first major sport in the United States to return to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the organisers of the popular racing series said on Thursday that the season will resume without fans in mid-May. NASCAR, which postponed racing in mid-March due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, said its season will resume on May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Player agents, executives call for NBA to cancel season: report
National Basketball Association executives and player agents are calling on the league to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to health concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak, CNBC reported on Thursday. Even as many states in the U.S. begin to ease stay-at-home restrictions and open up the economy, cracks are beginning to show in the NBA’s resolve to complete the campaign and crown a champion, according to CNBC.
PGA Tour extends exempt player membership to next season
The PGA Tour will extend its exempt player membership status into next season due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has interrupted this year’s schedule, it said on Thursday. The eligibility adjustments mean no players currently on tour will lose their status if they fall outside the top 125 in the FedExCup rankings at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
Churchill Downs to open for spectator-free racing on May 16
Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, said on Thursday it will open for spectator-free racing on May 16 under strict guidelines to mitigate risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes to have fans in attendance for its famous race in September. After the opening weekend, spectator-free racing at the Louisville racetrack will be held Thursdays through Sundays with a special card for the Memorial Day holiday on May 25.