Tagged in: covid-19

LPGA shanghai tournament canceled due to virus

The LPGA Tour on Wednesday canceled its Shanghai tournament after China said it will not hold most international sports events this year due to coronavirus.

LPGA Shanghai, acquired last year by American world number two Danielle Kang, had been programmed for Oct. 15-18 but has been scratched “given the current health concerns and significant travel restrictions”, the tour said in a statement.

“(We) very much look forward to returning to Qizhong Garden Golf Club, Shanghai in 2021,” it added.

It now appears inevitable that the men’s prestigious $10.5 million World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions, due to take place two weeks later in Shanghai, will also be canceled.

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Almost all leading international sports events in China this year, including WTA and ATP tennis, have been scrapped as the country tries to prevent imported virus cases.

The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, which was postponed in April, also looks doomed.

Men’s and women’s professional golf has made a tentative return in the US and Europe, but with no crowds and under strict virus-prevention protocols.

The LPGA Tour 2020 campaign was shut down by the pandemic in February after just four events, two in Florida and two in Australia. 

It teed off again only two weeks ago with back-to-back tournaments, without crowds, in Ohio, both won by last year’s Shanghai champion Kang.

The leading women’s tour moves its bio-secure bubble to Scotland this week for the Scottish Open in North Berwick followed by next week’s first major of the season, the British Women’s Open at Troon.

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Denver Broncos’ Von Miller considered opting out of season

Dozens of players have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign due to COVID-19 concerns, and Denver Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller considered doing so as well.

The eight-time Pro Bowler was the second NFL player to reportedly test positive for the coronavirus back in May, but he feels as though the job the Broncos are doing to keep their players safe is enough for him to feel ready to return to the field.

“I weighed the positives and negatives and came to my own decision and felt like I could play,” Miller said during a video conference, per the Denver Post. “The job the Broncos are doing to keep us safe was enough for me to not opt out.”

Miller stated earlier this offseason that he was “shocked” to learn that he had tested positive for COVID-19 since he had been taking safety provisions seriously.  “It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,” Miller said.

“Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite.”

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The former first-round pick was an early advocate for daily testing and said that it was the key to the NFL being able to host a safe and successful season. The league ended up taking Miller’s advice, as players are required to register multiple negative tests before they are permitted to take their physicals and hit the practice field. 

If there was one positive thing to come from his COVID-19 experience, Miller said that it has definitely started conversations among his teammates in the locker room. Since he takes it seriously, Denver’s other players will as well. 

“From my teammates, I get all types of questions about the virus,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s me pushing (the conversation) out there and saying, ‘This thing is serious. It’s very, very serious.’ … We see the types of things happening in baseball (with outbreaks) and we just don’t want that to happen in the NFL.”

While Miller will not be opting out this year, players have until Thursday at 4 p.m. ET to opt out of the 2020 season.

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Giants OT Nate Solder opts out, cites family’s health concerns

New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder stated Wednesday he’s opting out of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer,” Solder said in a Twitter post. “We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.”

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman voiced his support for Solder’s decision. “We have great respect for Nate as a person and player,” he said in a statement on the team’s official site. “When he called today, I told him it is faith, family and football. He is doing what’s best for his family.”

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Solder and his wife, Lexi, welcomed their son Hudson in July 2015.

He was diagnosed with kidney cancer that October, and the disease has persisted over the years.

According to NJ Advance Media’s Matt Lombardo, Solder could qualify as “high risk” in the eyes of the NFL. That would allow him to obtain a $350,000 salary advance instead of $150,000 for a standard voluntary opt-out. Any player who opts out will have his contract toll as well.

Solder’s absence will likely mean 2020 first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas will be the Giants’ starting left tackle. New York selected Thomas fourth overall in April, and he was tentatively slated to start on the right opposite Solder.

Now, the former Georgia star will have to play a crucial role in protecting quarterback Daniel Jones’ blind side, leaving the team in need of a new right tackle. Having signed a one-year contract with the team in March, Cam Fleming would be the logical substitute.

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Miami Marlins cancel game as coronavirus spreads

The Miami Marlins’ home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles, set for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch Monday night, was canceled as COVID-19 has spread through the team, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday morning that at least 10 more positive cases — eight players and two coaches — surfaced after the team’s latest round of testing on Sunday. That comes after four players received positive test results during the team’s trip to Philadelphia, including three starters finding out before Sunday’s series finale.

The team had already previously changed its flight back to Miami from Sunday night to Monday morning. They were waiting for results to come in from their latest round of COVID-19 testing Sunday morning. Results from the rapid tests normally take between 12 and 24 hours.

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The Marlins remain in Philadelphia and continue to undergo testing after their weekend series there.

That new flight, initially set to depart at 11:10 a.m., was canceled before 9 a.m. Monday

According to MLB’s operations manual for the season, players and staff members are not permitted to travel or access club facilities following a positive test until after they have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, show no fever for at least 72 hours, complete an antibody test and are cleared by a team physician as well as the MLB COVID-19 joint committee.

The Marlins were already going to be without the services of Urena, catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was placed on the injured list before their season opener on Friday, infielder Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez. It’s possible that the infections occurred Wednesday on the team’s trip to and from Atlanta, where the Marlins played the Braves in an exhibition game.

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Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe arrives in Orlando after Covid-19 diagnosis

Less than 24 hours before the start of their first scrimmage in Orlando, the Milwaukee Bucks have landed quite the familiar reinforcement.

Starting Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe joined the squad in Orlando, as confirmed by the Bucks’ very own Twitter account, after previously testing positive for COVID-19, which obviously delayed his initial arrival with the team as they first arrived in Orlando two weeks ago.

For Bledsoe to arrive in Orlando was a big step as that meant producing two consecutive negative tests before he was cleared to join his teammates and the rest of the Bucks’ traveling party. Per the league’s protocol, Bledsoe now must go into quarantine for two days down in Orlando before rejoining his squad in practice sessions.

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That now leaves Pat Connaughton as the only absence for the Bucks going into the restart after he revealed earlier this week that he had also tested positive for COVID-19.

The timeline for Connaughton’s return has yet to be clarified.

While the Bucks wait for Connaughton’s return, the timing of Bledsoe’s arrival really couldn’t have worked out any better for the Bucks as they’re a little over a week out from officially resuming play when they take on the Boston Celtics on July 31.

With his ability to slice into opposing defenses at will while simultaneously offering incredibly strong perimeter defense and check some of the best scoring guards in the league, Bledsoe’s two-way abilities make up a critical component in the Bucks’ formula.

It’s absolutely a refreshing and welcome sight to see Bledsoe rejoin the squad, but also seem happy and healthy following his brush with COVID-19. But the pressure will soon be on Bledsoe and the Bucks overall to finish what they all started.

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Ricky Rubio back with Suns after testing positive

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t join the team in Orlando, Florida, until this week because of a positive COVID-19 test. Rubio said he joined the team two days ago and Tuesday was his first practice.

Phoenix has its first scrimmage on Thursday although it’s unclear if Rubio will play.

“I just had two practices so I have to talk with strength coach, [Suns coach Monty Williams] and the whole team,” Rubio said. “I feel good but we have to be smart about it. It’s a preseason game. We have to figure out a plan that’s day by day. We can’t plan ahead like other times. We didn’t know when I was going to come so we have to play it day by day.”

Rubio did not say when he first tested positive for the virus but did state that it was harder on him because while he was in Phoenix, his family stayed back in Spain. Now, he says he has to be careful with how he ramps back up and gets ready to play once again.

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Williams said he would meet with his staff Wednesday night to determine Rubio’s playing status moving forward.

Rubio, who has been involved with the league’s social justice movement while he has been out and was on a recent league call with Breonna Taylor’s mother and lawyer, also tried to put in focus the NBA’s return to basketball in the current social climate.

“It’s tough but the times we live in right now, we have to adjust to the uncomfortable,” Rubio stated. “The NBA did a really good job of keeping us safe down here. At the end of the day, basketball, right now, it’s not the first thing we’re thinking of when it comes to live. There’s a lot on our plate and everybody’s plate. We have to think for the big picture but we’re here and ready to play.”

Rubio is not the only player who hasn’t been with the team in Orlando. The Suns are without guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque for what the team is calling personal matters. Center Aron Baynes told Stadium that he tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t with the team yet.

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Miguel Sano cleared to join Twins after Covid-19

When the Twins got good news about Byron Buxton on Tuesday, it didn’t take long before the subject turned to Miguel Sano, ostensibly the Twins’ starting first baseman but without any practice since camp re-started because he rang positive for COVID-19 during intake testing.

They received good news on Sano on Wednesday when he was cleared to join teammates after two weeks of COVID-19 quarantine. He will work out for the first time since summer camp started July 3 this afternoon at Target Field.

Buxton, the elite center fielder whose Achilles’ heel has been his health, doesn’t seem at risk for missing too much time because of a left foot sprain suffered Monday. He’s been playing and has looked sharp at the plate and in the field.

Now the Twins must see if Sano, moving from third to first base because the Twins signed all-star Josh Donaldson last winter, can use the next week to get ready for the team’s July 24 season opener versus the White Sox in Chicago.

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He has played first base in major league games, but only as a fill-in, and hasn’t worked with teammates since spring training was canceled in mid-March.

“I think it’s more of a question if Miguel is ready physically to play, more than anything else, more than the question about playing a new position or anything in particular,” manager Rocco Baldelli stated after Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

During intake testing, Sano and utility man Willians Astudillo were the only Twins major leaguers to test positive for the coronavirus that has killed more than 134,000 Americans, and has been spreading in the U.S. at a record-setting pace the past few weeks.

Because Sano has registered consecutive negative test results, he was cleared to play on Wednesday. Like Buxton, another first-round draft pick who has shown bursts of greatness, Sano has had trouble staying on the field. A 7.8-WAR player and an all-star in 2017, Sano has played more than 100 matches twice in five seasons, and never as many as 120.

In 2018, he was sent to Fort Myers, Fla., in midseason to get into better shape.

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Rafael Devers joins Red Sox for summer camp

Rafael Devers didn’t work out with his teammates at Fenway Park for the first week of summer camp because the Red Sox feared he had been exposed to COVID-19.

After three tests came up negative, however, Devers was cleared to return and joined his teammates at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for live batting practice.

He had been working out at Boston College with other possible positive cases, manager Ron Roenicke said, out of an abundance of caution.

“We had some guys that were possibly exposed to somebody with coronavirus,” Roenicke said via Zoom on Wednesday.

“This group has tested negative three times. We will continue to test them, just because we’re being overly cautious. That’s kind of why we’ve separated some of the guys from the later workouts.”

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Devers hopes to bat in Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage, Roenicke said, because he’s eager to lock in his timing at the plate versus big league pitching.

If all goes well, he’d likely play third base in Friday’s scrimmage.

“He’s concerned about seeing velocity,” Roenicke stated. “We were able to do that over there with him with the pitching machine in the cage. He’ll do that again and see live BP today, which is helpful, and then if he’s ready for a couple of at-bats, we’ll have him in the intrasquad tomorrow.”

Added Roenicke: “I know with him, he’s a little concerned, because he’s trying to catch up and make sure he’s getting all the work in that he needs.”

There’s no overstating Devers’ significance to the lineup after a breakout 2019 in which he hit .311 with 32 homers, 115 RBIs, and a league-leading 54 doubles and 359 total bases. With Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Devers is expected to be one of the driving forces in the lineup, alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

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Brooks Koepka’s caddie tests positive

Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the Travelers Championship after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The pro golfer, 30, told Golfweek that Elliott tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka said. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life if they have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. The only way this tour can continue is if guys to do this sort of thing and be proactive about it.”

Koepka, Elliott, and Koepka’s coach Claude Harmon III all were originally tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after playing a practice round with Graeme McDowell, whose caddie, Ken Comboy, had tested positive.

“We all got tested Monday—myself, Claude and Ricky. We all came back negative,” Koepka said. “We had no symptoms. Nothing.”

However, Elliott’s additional test on Wednesday came out positive, which led Koepka to immediately withdraw from the Travelers Championship. “Ricky has my full support in this. I feel bad for him,” Koepka said. “We have got to do everything we can to not spread it. We have to protect the field. That’s the reason we have these rules.”

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Koepka stated he and his team have been on strict lockdown during the first three events back on tour, staying together with a chef in rented homes and leaving only to go to the golf course or get tested.

The only occasion on which someone left from isolation was on Monday, June 15, when Elliott joined McDowell and Comboy at the funeral of a close friend in Orlando.

McDowell, 40, told Golfweek that Comboy now thinks he may have been exposed to the virus during a commercial flight he took two days earlier on June 13 from Dallas to Orlando after the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Koepka said that he and his girlfriend Jena Sims, as well as his chef, are all being tested for coronavirus Wednesday at the golf course. Based on the results, he will decide whether to return home to Jupiter, Florida, or quarantine in Connecticut.

The PGA Tour has since put in place a health and safety plan that forces any player who tests positive to be “immediately isolated” for a minimum of 10 days “after the positive test and no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.”

The tour said that 369 players, caddies and essential personnel were all tested on-site before the RBC Heritage initiated, and none tested positive.

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Watney first player on PGA Tour to test positive

Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage on Friday prior to the second round after testing positive for COVID-19.

According to the PGA Tour, Watney specified he had symptoms consistent with the virus. After consulting with a physician, he took a COVID-19 test which turned out to be positive.

Before hearing of the result, however, Watney went to the golf course; Si Woo Kim said he saw Watney on the range. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy said he had a chat with Watney – at a distance – before teeing off. And Brooks Koepka said he saw Watney in the parking lot.

“He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I said, look, it’s fine. You never know. So I said to him, if I was in your position, I probably would have been here, too. Look, at this point, you just have to concentrate on getting better and getting healthy. “But, yeah, look, it sucks for him especially. You know, if you contract it, that’s fine, but then it’s the fact that who have you come into contact with, and who you might have exposed and stuff. Look, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Until this thing’s over, we all just have to stay vigilant and keep your distance and wear our masks if we’re going out in public and keep washing our hands.”

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Watney texted McIlroy to tell him he had the virus and McIlroy valued Watney’s concern.

Watney shot 74 in the first round before withdrawing on Friday. He had traveled privately to Hilton Head Island and tested negatively on Monday here on the island.

He is the first PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus.

Watney will isolate for at least 10 days nearby.

“Nick will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation and recovery period under CDC guidelines,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

The PGA Tour had no additional comment.

There were 369 tests of players, caddies, and essential personnel prior to the start of the RBC Heritage. There were no positive results. Watney, 39, is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour. He shot 71-74 to miss the cut last week in the Charles Schwab Challenge, when the PGA Tour returned to action after a 13-week break due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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