VIRUS OUTBREAK-TOKYO GAMES
USA Gymnastics calls for Olympic postponement
UNDATED (AP) — Add USA Gymnastics to the country’s growing list of sports entities calling for a postponement to the Tokyo Olympics.
The organization says a majority of senior national team members have indicated in an anonymous survey that they were in favor of the games being pushed back from its scheduled July opening. USA Gymnastics President Li Li Leung says the organization would not specify how long of a delay it is asking for but added that most respondents were pushing for a year.
USA Swimming and USA Track and Field also have called for a postponement to the games.
The International Olympics Committee is considering postponing the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Longtime IOC member Craig Reedie told The Associated Press that everyone can see where things are headed, with the coronavirus pandemic spreading and Olympic hopefuls around the world unable to train. IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today that he expects the Olympics will be postponed. Pound told the paper he expects the IOC to announce its next steps soon.
Major Olympic nations like Canada and Australia are adding pressure by making it clear they will not go if the games are staged this year. And Germany now says it wants the games postponed until next year at the earliest. The president of the Norwegian Olympic Committee is recommending that athletes from the country not be sent to the Tokyo Games if they take place as scheduled.
IOC President Thomas Bach sent a letter to athletes explaining the decision and why it might take so long, while also acknowledging the extended timeline might not be popular. He said a final decision was likely to come in four weeks.
Meanwhile, a group representing track and field athletes has called for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Athletics Association's statement comes a day after the International Olympic Committee set itself a four-week deadline to decide on a delay.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-US OLYMPIC TEAM SURVEY
Survey says 68% of US Olympic hopefuls lean toward postponement of games
DENVER (AP) — Nearly seven in 10 U.S. Olympic hopefuls say they don't think the Tokyo Games will be fair if they are held in July. The finding is prompting leaders of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee to conclude “it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising.”
The USOPC sent a survey over the weekend to more than 4,000 athletes for details on how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced their training and their feelings about the upcoming games. They received responses from 1,780.
Sixty-nine percent said they would feel comfortable competing in July if the World Health Organization deemed it safe. But virtually that same number, 68% said they didn't think the Olympics would be fair under those circumstances.
Russia backs slow approach on Tokyo games
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has backed the International Olympic Committee’s approach of taking time to consider postponing the Tokyo Games and condemned the body's critics.
The IOC says it will make a decision within four weeks and the Russian Olympic Committee endorsed that plan by calling for “complete support.”
The ROC says “we view as unacceptable any attempts to bring pressure on the organizations in charge responsible of staging the games and to force them to take rash decisions.”
Russia was faced with sending a neutral team to the Tokyo Olympics under sanctions from the World Anti-Doping Agency. But those measures can’t be implemented until there’s a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where hearings have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. It’s unclear whether CAS could still rule before the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start July 24.
Champions League final postponed
UNDATED (AP) — UEFA (yoo-AY’-fah) has formally postponed the Champions League final scheduled to be played on May 30 in Istanbul.
UEFA says no decision has been made on a new date, amid a shutdown of European soccer due to the coronavirus pandemic that has no end in sight.
Only four teams advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals before the remaining Round of 16 games scheduled on March 17-18 were postponed.
In other sports-related developments stemming from the coronavirus:
— The top three Canadian junior hockey leagues have called off the remainder of their seasons and playoffs. That means the Memorial Cup trophy given out to the national champion will not be awarded for the first time in its 102-year history.
— The Spanish soccer federation and the Spanish league say the suspension of professional soccer in the country will continue until government officials “consider that they can be resumed without creating any health risk.” The soccer competitions had been initially suspended for two weeks, but the government said Sunday that the country’s state of emergency would likely be extended, meaning the entire nation may have to remain in lockdown until at least April 11.
— Australian soccer's A-League has suspended its season indefinitely. That brings an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand until the coronavirus pandemic passes.
— The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been postponed due to the outbreak. The latest postponement means there will be no Formula One races until the middle of June at the earliest. The race at the Baku City Circuit was scheduled for June 7. The first seven races of the Formula One season had already either been postponed or canceled.
— Former Olympic swimming champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa says he has contracted the coronavirus. Van der Burgh retired from competitive swimming but says he has been struggling for two weeks with the illness. He is also adding his voice to concerns for the well-being of current athletes if the Tokyo Olympics are held as scheduled in July and August.
Pats get a QB, cut longtime kicker
UNDATED (AP) — The New England Patriots have dropped their longtime kicker and picked up a quarterback.
The Patriots said goodbye to another longtime staple of their two-decade run of championships, releasing kicker and franchise leading scorer Stephen Gostkowski. The three-time Super Bowl champion has spent his entire 14-year career in New England.
Gostkowski has long passed Adam Vinatieri as the Patriots’ leading scorer with 1,775 points.
The 36-year-old Gostkowski started the first four games of 2019 but struggled, missing a career-high four extra points after not missing more than three in any of his previous 13 NFL seasons. He was placed on injured reserve in October and underwent season-ending hip surgery.
Brian Hoyer is now in the running to become Tom Brady’s replacement after accepting a one-year contract with the New England Patriots. The 34-year-old twice served as Brady’s backup and will compete with Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler for the starting job. Hoyer played four games and had one start with Indianapolis last season, completing 54% of his passes for 372 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Elsewhere in the NFL:
— A person with knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press the Redskins are acquiring quarterback Kyle Allen from the Panthers. Allen was 5-7 as the Panthers’ starter last season, completing 62% of his passes for 3,322 yards, 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He will complete with second-year pro Dwayne Haskins for the starting job and is reunited with Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who was Allen’s coach last season.
— The Seahawks landed some needed depth in the secondary by acquiring cornerback Quinton Dunbar from the Redskins for a fifth-round pick. That’s according to a person with knowledge of the move. Dunbar had a career-best four interceptions last season for Washington and started 17 of the past 18 games he played for the team.
— Cowboys center Travis Frederick is retiring from the NFL at 29. The 2016 All-Pro says he could no longer perform at his highest level after returning from a neurological disorder that sidelined him for the 2018 season.
— A person familiar with the situation says the Panthers have agreed to terms with former XFL quarterback P.J. Walker of the Houston Roughnecks and former Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead. The person says Walker agreed to a two-year contract and Whitehead will get a one-year deal. Financial terms were not known.
— The Giants have reached agreements on one-year contracts with running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Corey Coleman. Lewis spent the past two seasons as Derrick Henry’s backup in Tennessee and rushed for 209 yards on 54 carries last season before being released this month in a salary-cap move. Coleman didn’t play in the NFL last season after catching five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in eight games for the 2018 Giants.
— The Jets and linebacker James Burgess have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, according to his agent. Burgess started the final 10 games of last season at inside linebacker for the Jets after injuries decimated the position. The 26-year-old linebacker is a favorite of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who also coached him in Cleveland. Burgess finished second on the team to Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams in total tackles with 90.
— The Cardinals have agreed to terms on one-year contracts for safety Chris Banjo and defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard. The 30-year-old Banjo played in 13 games last season for Arizona and was a valuable contributor on special teams. The seven-year veteran also provides depth in the secondary. The 26-year-old Bullard played in nine games last season and started six.
— The Falcons have reached agreements with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, a former first-round pick of the Vikings, and guard Justin McCray. That word comes from a person familiar with the deals, which won’t be official until Treadwell and McCray pass physicals. The Falcons also have re-signed cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to a one-year deal.
Predators sign goaltender Ingram
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators have signed goaltender Connor Ingram to a three-year contract worth $2 million at the NHL level.
The 22-year-old Ingram posted a 21-5-5 record for the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals this season. He ranked third among AHL goaltenders with a .933 save percentage, third with a 1.92 goals-against average and tied for third in wins.
Ingram was a third-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2016 NHL draft. He played for Canada in the 2017 World Junior Championship.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NEWS
Southeast Missouri finds a hoops coach
UNDATED (AP) — Southeast Missouri has hired Kansas State assistant Brad Korn as its new basketball coach. Korn had spent the past five seasons with the Wildcats, the past four as an assistant coach. He helped the school to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a share of the Big 12 regular-season two years ago. Korn takes over for Rick Ray, who was fired after going 51-104 in five years with the team and was 7-24 this past season.
In other men’s basketball news:
— Andy Kennedy has been introduced as the new men’s basketball coach at UAB. Kennedy began his college coaching career with Cincinnati in 2005-06 before a 12-year run at Mississippi. He went 245-156 at Ole Miss, winning one conference tournament and earning two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Kennedy has had 10 20-win seasons as a head coach.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-PLAYER/COACH OF THE YEAR
Sabrina Ionescu is unanimous choice
UNDATED (AP) — Oregon star guard Sabrina Ionescu has become just the second unanimous selection as The Associated Press women's basketball player of the year.
Ionescu received all 30 ballots from the national media panel that selects the Top 25 poll each week. She averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds this season as well as having eight of her 26 career triple-doubles.
The only other unanimous pick was UConn star Breanna Stewart in 2016.
South Carolina’s Dawn Staley is the AP’s women’s basketball coach of the year. Staley claimed 20 of 30 votes after leading the Gamecocks to a 32-1 overall record, including a 16-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference.
Northwestern’s Joe McKeown (mih-KYOO’-ehn) is the runner-up with five votes.
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