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Coronavirus and sports: What happened in May 2020

May 28, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continued to disrupt major sporting events across the globe the Bundesliga made its return as the rest of European football watched on. Here's a recap of how it all unfolded.

Image: Getty Images/C. Coates

May 30

-- Zero positives across latest Premier League testing 

On Saturday, the Premier League confirmed zero positive test results for the coronavirus after 1,130 players and staff across the 20 clubs were tested in the fourth round of testing.

The Premier League is provisionally set to restart it's 2019-20 campaign on June 17.

-- F1 to return on July 5

The Austrian government announced on Saturday that the 2020 Formula One season will start with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

The Spielberg circuit, which will be without spectators for the races, has also been given the green light to stage a second race the following weekend.

Approval comes after F1 organizers had presented a complete and professional plan to combat the spread of COVID-19.

-- Löw hoping for September return

In a video interview posted on the German Football Federation (DFB) website, head coach Joachim Löw said he and his staff are working again after taking a coronavirus-related break.

"We are in the process of preparing mentally for September - if play
is possible again then," Löw said.

After friendlies against Spain and Italy due to be played in March were scrapped, Germany has not played since November 2019.

-- Bayern take further salary cut

Bayern Munich players have accepted a salary cut until the end of the season to help the Bundesliga champions through the coronavirus crisis, club president Herbert Hainer revealed.

In April, the Bayern squad took a 20 percent reduction in salary. Hainer did not say how large the salary cut was this time.

May 29

-- Serie A confirms return

The Serie A will return on June 20, after Italy's Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora gave the government’s approval for a restart on June 20. Top-flight football will return to Italy after a three month coronavirus-enforced absence.

Serie A will return with the following games:

Atalanta vs. Sassuolo
Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari
Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria
Torino vs. Parma

May 28

-- Premier League ramps up restart effort

English top flight football will return on June 17, according to a report from the BBC. The Premier League clubs were locked in talks for most of Thursday and it appears that the season will resume with Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United and Manchester City vs. Arsenal, the games in hand.

Once those have been played, all 20 teams will have nine games remaining. While Liverpool need a maximum of two wins to sew up their first league title since the Premier League was born in 1992, there are plenty of issues to be resolved further down the table.

May 27

-- Premier League ramps up restart effort

England's top division has moved a step closer to a Bundesliga-style resumption following a meeting on Wednesday. All 20 clubs voted in favor of a return to contact training, including tackling, after the coronavirus-induced shutdown of the Premier League.

"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact," read a statement from the league.  "The Premier League's priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants."

This is considered stage 2 of the 3-stage 'Project Restart' aimed at getting the league back up and running, but there are still several hurdles to clear.

-- J League set to follow baseball back in to action

Japan's top-flight soccer league is ready to resume its season, within weeks of the country's professional baseball league.

The J-League is expected to officially announce its plans on Friday, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo, which reports that matches will resume on June 27 or July 4.

The state of emergency has recently been lifted in Japan, allowing the sports to consider returning. As in most cases, fans will not be allowed to attend while there are discussions about regionalizing competitions in order to reduce travel.

May 26

-- Amiens and Lyon to challenge Ligue 1 decision

Relegated French club Amiens have joined Lyon in vowing to challenge the decision to end Ligue 1 season early before the Council of State, France's highest administrative court.

The club oppose the April 30 decision by the French Football League (LFP) to end the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, after the government said sports leagues could not resume until September at the earliest.

Amiens were relegated from Ligue 1 as the second-bottom team after the final table was decided based on points per game, with 10 scheduled rounds of matches remaining.

May 25

-- Good news for Britain's elite athletes

The British government has said elite athletes can return to full contact training, but it is up to the individual sports when it is deemed safe to do so. 

The government advises starting with groups of two or three athletes, then progressing to groups of four to 12 before commencing full team training.

"This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved," sports minister Nigel Huddleston said on Monday. 

-- Japanese baseball to restart season

Japan's professional baseball season will open on June 19 under a plan that excludes fans, league commissioner Atsushi Saito announced on Monday
after an online meeting with representatives of the league's 12 teams.

The announcement came as the state of emergency was lifted in Tokyo and on the northern island of Hokkaido by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The state of emergency was lifted earlier this month for other parts of the country.

"I hope we can provide some guidance for sports other than professional baseball,'' Saito said. "It is important to operate cautiously according to our guidelines."

May 23

-- La Liga gets green liught for return

Spanish soccer's top flight division La Liga can return to action from June 8, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday. Spanish football was suspended on March 12 although clubs in the top two divisions have since returned to group training.

La Liga has yet to officially confirm a date on which it will resume, although its president Javier Tebas had said previously he hoped the season could do so from June 11.

"We are very happy with the decision, but it is the result of the great work of clubs, players, coaches, CSD (National Sports Council) and agents involved," Tebas said on Twitter. "It is very important to follow the health rules. We cannot let our guard down."

May 22

-- Werder Bremen take loan from state bank

Bundesliga strugglers Werder Bremen have admitted to taking out a loan from state-owned KfW Bank to overcome cashflow issues caused by the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesman for the club confirmed to Der Spiegel that final talks on the matter were taking place and Bremen are seeking the bank's coronavirus aid package to help them through. The loan, complete with interest, needs to be paid back within six years, according to reports.

-- Djokovic organizes 'Adria Tour'

With the ATP and WTA tours on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world No. 1 in men's tennis, Novak Djokovic, has put together a plan to hold a tournament in countries from the former Yugoslavia next monthA spokesman for the Serbian announced on Friday that the Adria Tour will be held in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro from June 13 - July 5 

In addition to Djokovic, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday, world No. 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, ranked 19, have also confirmed their participation.      

It's not yet clear whether the Adria Tour will be open to spectators or only broadcast on TV, but the statement said that whatever revenue was generated would go to support various regional humanitarian projects. 

-- NBA star Schröder secures future of boyhood club

While the Bundesliga has become the world's first major football league to successfully return to play despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, smaller sports leagues in Germany, with largely gate-driving revenue streams are just trying to figure out how to survive until next season.  

Among them is the Basketball Bundesliga, which is planning to crown a champion with a 10-team tournament behind closed doors in Munich next month. Seven of the other clubs in Germany's top flight have opted to give it a miss, to concentrate on planning for next season.  

Among these are the Basketball Löwen Braunschweig, but the club, which had been suffering from "financial stress" due to the coronavirus outbreak, now appears to be in the clear after German NBA star Dennis Schöder – who played his youth basketball at the club, stepped in to take over as sole owner – effective July 1 

"Braunschweig is my hometown, I want to give something back to the region," the OKC Thunder point guard said in a statement on the club's website announcing the move."I am convinced that we can further develop the location and make it a top club," Schröder added.  

May 21

-- Dynamo Dresden report further positive tests

Second division Dynamo Dresden have announced that their latest batch of COVID-19 tests turned up a positive result for one player and another person connected to an employee.

Dresden, who sit bottom of the Bundesliga 2, have been in quarantine for 10 days after their initial testing showed a number of positive cases and their first two fixtures in the German football resumption must be rescheduled. The club were scheduled to return to training on Saturday morning.

"We had to expect that more cases would come to light in the fifth series of tests. The additional case in our team is proof that the Dresden health authority has acted in a highly professional and responsible manner despite the enormous public pressure," explained Dynamo's Managing Director of Sports, Ralf Minge.

-- Women's Bundesliga gets start date

The women's Bundesliga will return on May 29, with runaway leaders Wolfsburg hosting Cologne, the DFB (German FA) announced. Germany's third division, also run by the DFB, will resume on May 30.

"The restart is an historic moment, as we are the first professional women's league in Europe to return to playing, with the greatest possible safety precautions for players and staff," DFB Leagues' Committee chairman Siegfried Dietrich said.

A solidarity fund of €20 million euros ($22 milion dollars) provided by men's Champions League teams Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen "laid the groundwork for the Women's Bundesliga to return," Dietrich added.

-- Bach admits Olympics may have to be canceled

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has told the BBC that the Olympic dates now set for 2021 are the "last option" for the Tokyo Games, echoing Japan's stance on the issue.

In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and Bach believes the uncertainty cannot be indefinite.

"You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide for all the major federations," he said. "You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty, you cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games."

The Olympics have never been canceled outside of the World Wars. 

May 20

-- UEFA president confident fans will return soon

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is confident "good old football with fans will come back very soon" despite the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Domestic and continental club competitions were halted across Europe in mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis and EURO 2020 was postponed.

"I don't think that this virus will last forever. I think it will (change) sooner than many think," Ceferin told The Guardian. "I don't like this apocalyptic view that we have to wait for the second and third waves or even a fifth wave."

-- Gasol praises Barcelona crisis efforts

Spanish basketball player and Barcelona ambassador Pau Gasol has praised the club's commitment to donate naming rights money to the fight against coronavirus.

Barcelona announced in April that it would direct money made from selling the naming rights of its Camp Nou stadium for the first time,
next season towards fighting the pandemic.

"Sport is one of the main pillars of society," Gasol said in a video conference organised by the University of Havard. "We have an example of this at FC Barcelona, with the initiative to transfer title rights to help deal with Covid-19. We must be aware that we are a model to be followed and in a time of need like this one."

-- Seoul FC in hot water

Following on from the May 18 entry, South Korean football team FC Seoul is facing penalties, including expulsion from its own stadium, for putting sex dolls in empty seats during a match last weekend.

The K-League is one of the few soccer leagues operating during the coronavirus pandemic, with games being played in empty stadiums. FC Seoul's attempts to increase the atmosphere backfired despite its 1-0 win over Gwangju on Sunday.

"We apologize deeply to all those concerned about the unfortunate situation that occurred," the club said. "We will review our internal procedures to ensure this does not happen again."

May 19

-- Six positive tests in Premier League

With squads starting to return to small group training, the Premier League announced that its clubs had returned six positive coronavirus tests after 748 players and staff from 19 clubs were tested. The remaining club did their tests later, so their results are not yet available.

The league has been looking to restart in mid June but this date looks increasingly unlikely. 

-- Serie A restart in limbo

Italy's domestic federation FIGC has tweaked its tentative restart date for Serie A after a prime ministerial decree kept competitive events blocked until June 14. 

"Hoping for further and positive decisions from competent authorities, (FIGC) has extended the suspension of sporting activities to June 14," a statement read late Monday.

Government officials have so far declined to set a date for a return to full competition as they monitor the decline of contagion across the country.

-- Bayern Munich announce fundraising tournament

Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Real Madrid will contest a mini-league tournament "when football can be played in front of spectators again" in order to raise funds for fighting the coronavirus in Spain and Italy.

Bayern will invite 5,000 nurses, carers and doctors to their home game in honour of their doing "an outstanding job for society at the moment," said the German record titleholder's chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

-- LeBron James hopes NBA resumes 'as soon as possible'

Basketball star LeBron James believes the NBA can close out their season in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and wants to start playing again "as soon as possible."

"We're seeing a lot of sporting events, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), soccer, we're hearing baseball's about to get going in a little bit," he said on the Uninterrupted platform he founded.

"As soon as possible, when we can get back out there, we'd love to bring the game of basketball back to our fans," the three-time NBA champions said. "But we don't ever want to jeopardize the health of any of our players or the players' families."

-- Green light for German basketball league

The German basketball league (BBL) have been granted permission by the Bavarian government to conclude its season with a 10-team tournament in Munich's Audi Dome, according to the Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa).

Plans for the June event were approved by a cabinet meeting involving state Premier Markus Soeder on Tuesday. Basketball in the country has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

With the football resuming in Germany's top two tiers, Bavaria has also approved the staging of the DFB Cup semifinal between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on either June 9 or 10.

May 18

-- Premier League clubs set to return to training next week

The Premier League's 'Project Restart' hopes have been bolstered after clubs agreed to stage one of the return to training protocols.

The decision which was made following a unanimous vote at Monday's meeting would allow teams to start training in small groups from Tuesday. Players will be tested twice a week and would still have to observe social distancing rules with contact training not permitted.

The Premier League season was suspended in March with Liverpool leading by 25 points with nine games remaining.

-- Celtic crowned Scottish champions, season abandoned

Celtic were crowned Scottish champions for a record-equalling ninth consecutive season as the Scottish Premiership season was declared over on Monday.

"We would all have rather seen the league season played out on pitches, in stadiums and in front of supporters," said league (SPFL) chairman Murdoch MacLennan. "Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on sporting competitions around the world and the repercussions will be felt for a long time."

Neil Lennon's men were 13 points clear of Rangers at the top of the table when the campaign was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

-- Sex doll scandal strikes in South Korea's K-League

Sports teams are coming up with creative measures to cope with games behind closed doors, but FC Seoul have been left red-faced by an attempt to "bring some fun elements into the no-fans games."

The South Korean football side have been forced to apologise after they mistakenly used sex dolls instead of mannequins to fill seats during a K-League match at their empty stadium on Sunday.

The club issued a statement on Monday saying the supplier had told them the dolls were not "adult products" but admitted they had "failed to make detailed checks, which is our fault without a doubt."

May 17

-- Green light for NASCAR

The NASCAR season returned to action on Sunday at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

The ‘Real Heroes 400’ race was the first since COVID-19 enforced a 10-week break on the sport. But faced with financial collapse without TV revenue, according to officials, it returned with new health protocols in place for the 40 drivers and their teams.

NASCAR had its health plan approved in South Carolina and North Carolina and have released an aggressive revised schedule. Sunday marks the first of 20 races across seven Southern states between now and June 21.

May 15

-- German public against Bundesliga restart, poll finds

In a survey done by public broadcaster ARD, 56 percent of people polled were against the Bundesliga restart. In a survey that asked 1,074 people, every second person was critical of football returning. Only 31 percent were in favor of the season returning without fans in so called "ghost games."

There was also no clarity amongst those who also wanted further easing of coronavirus restrictions: 40 percent of those asked were for a return of football, 45 were sceptical.

May 14

-- Augsburg coach to miss restart

Heiko Herrlich won't take his place on the bench for Augsburg's clash with Wolfsburg on Saturday after he admitted to leaving the team's hotel, where they were in quarantine, to buy toothpaste and skin cream.

The former Leverkusen boss took over just before the Bundesliga stopped play and has yet to actually coach a game for his new club.

"I made a mistake leaving the hotel. Even though I followed all hygiene measures, both when leaving the hotel and otherwise, I cannot undo this," the 48-year-old said. "In this situation, I have not lived up to my role model status with regards to team and the public."

The incident, though it appears relaitvely minor, is one the league organizer's the DFL could have done without less than 48 hours before its resumption.

-- Bundesliga could stretch in to July

The Bundesliga season could be extended to July if it is not possible to complete all games by June 30, the DFL has announced.

At a meeting of its members on Thursday, a unanimous decision was reached to try to finish the season at all costs. A final decision on relegation will be reached within two weeks. 

The DFL also announced that teams will be allowed to make up to five substitutions in games, and that fixtures could be moved to neutral venues at short notice should it be considered necessary.

-- DFL split on issue of relegation

Major differences of opinion have emerged regarding the relegation rule, in the event of a forced end to the season. According to Kicker, eight of the 18 Bundesliga clubs voted against a DFL proposal during a video broadcast. The proposal suggests sticking to the principle of promotion and relegation — even if the season is abandoned.

The motion has "caused a lot of unrest and sparked a discussion", Werder Bremen's supervisory board chairman Marco Bode told Sky. Bremen are currently second to last in the table, ahead of Paderborn. According to Bode, Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach were among the critics.

"This scenario is highly unlikely, but it should be settled," said Peter Peters, the chairman of the DFL supervisory board.

The final vote on the matter is now likely to be postponed until next week.

May 13

-- Bayern's Rummenigge anticipating 'billions' of TV viewers

As the Bundesliga is the first top European soccer league to restart its season on May 16, Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expects "billions" to tune in.

"The Bundesliga is now the first major league in the world to resume playing. And if the Bundesliga is the only league around the world to be broadcast on TV, then I assume that we will have an audience of billions all over the world," Rummenigge told Sport Bild, a German sports magazine.

"It will not only be an advertisement for our football, for the Bundesliga, but also for the whole country and especially for German politics, which made this possible with its very good approach."

-- DFL proposal: promotion and relegation regardless of season completion

According to draft proposals seen by German magazine Kicker, the DFL will propose holding firm and promotion and relegation regardless of whether or not the German football season is completed when the 36 clubs of Germany's top two divisions meet on Thursday.

Though the aim is to complete all 34 matchdays in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 by the end of June, the DFL proposes the top two divisions should still have 18 teams each. 

Past proposals reported by German media have suggested that the Bundesliga could have 22 teams in the 2020-21 season as to not punish either the top-flight teams trying to avoid the drop and the second-tier clubs fighting for promotion.

The DFL will also propose allowing for game venues to change at the last minute should circumstances allow it.

-- German sports minister welcomes Bundesliga restart plans

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, whose functions also include those of a sports minister, said he backs the plans to restart German football, provided that clubs show the "highest discipline."

"The risk is there, and therefore the highest discipline is required," Seehofer told a press conference in Berlin.  "I am excited [for the return of football]."

May 12

-- German clubs to discuss integrating five substitutions

The 36 clubs in Germany's top two divisions are set to meet on May 14, two days before football is scheduled to resume, to discuss hygiene guidelines and the possibility of allowing teams to use five substitutions.

"A decision will be taken on increasing the substitution quota to five players for the current season, after the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has opened up this possibility," the German football league (DFL), which governs Germany's top two divisions, said in a statement.

IFAB cited the health of players when it decided to allow clubs to use five substitutions instead of the normal three when football returns from its coronavirus hiatus. 

Some players in the Bundesliga have picked up injuries as clubs try to prepare for the season restart on May 16. Borussia Dortmund midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can missed the club's first two training matches with injuries, while Wolfsburg's Yannick Gerhardt picked up a facial fracture over the weekend.

Marc Lorenz, a midfielder for second-tier side Karlsruhe, warned of "fatigue and serious injuries" when the football returns, telling the a local news outlet Badische Neuste Nachrichten that five substitutions wouldn't help.

-- Austrian Bundesliga to return June 2

The Austrian football association (ÖFB) has received the go ahead from the Austrian government to restart the football season, the association confirmed.

"Green light! The federal government, the ÖFB and the [Austrian Bundesliga] have agreed to the basic conditions for the continuation of Bundesliga match operations," the ÖFB confirmed on Twitter.

The government and football bodies agreed that players who test positive for COVID-19 must stop training and quarantine at home. Teammates are allowed to continue training and playing matches as long as they test negative for the disease.

The 12-team Austrian Bundesliga was about to enter the second stage of its season when the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each team still has 10 matches to play, with the top six and the bottom six facing off in the championship and relegation rounds respectively.

"If we don't start now, then the football landscape in Austria would become unrecognizable in a year," ÖFB president LeoWindtner told a press conference in Vienna.

Ewa Pajor  of Wolfsburg
Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/L. Baron

May 11

-- Women's Bundesliga set to return, cup final date announced

While the men's Bundesliga is set to resume this weekend, the future of the women's equivalent had looked a little less certain, until an announcement on Monday.

The competition can return on May 29, while the third tier of the men's game can resume from May 26 or 27, pending approval from local health authorities, the DFB (German Football Association) said. Both competitions will return behind closed doors in accordance with a ban on large scale public events in Germany until the end of August.

The DFB also announced rescheduled dates for the German Cup. The semifinals between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt and Saarbrücken and Bayer Leverkusen will be played on June 9 and 10 with the final set for July 4.

-- No professional sports in UK until at least June

No sporting events will be able to take place, even behind closed doors, until at least June 1, the British government announced. 

However, in a 50-page document outlining measures to relax coronavirus restrictions, the British government said it is looking into "permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact." The measure is part of "step two" of a three-step plan to reopen the country, one that will kick in on June 1 providing a number of criteria are met. 

The government said having spectators in stadiums "may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections."

The document's release comes as English Premier League clubs were to meet later in the day to discuss plans to restart the current season. The league has to provide UEFA, Europe's football confederation, with a restart plan by May 25, even if play would not resume until June.

-- Bundesliga to miss out on €70 million in revenue with empty stadiums

The 36 clubs in Germany's top two divisions stand to lose €91 million ($98.4 million) in matchday revenue since games will be played behind closed doors, according to a report in Kicker, a German sports magazine.

Football in Germany is set to resume in the Bundesliga and second division on Saturday with empty-stadium matches, known as "Geisterspiele" (ghost games) in German.

The Kicker report estimates that Bundesliga clubs will lose €69.661 million with matches behind closed doors, while second division clubs will lose €22.029 million.

According to figures from the German Football League (DFL), which govern's the top two divisions, matchday revenue accounted for 12.9% of total revenue during the 2018-19 season at €520.1 million.

Kicker reported in April that 13 of the 36 clubs in Germany's top two tiers face insolvency due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the clubs is reportedly Schalke, who ended the 2019 financial year with debts of almost €200 million ($217.7 million).

-- Gladbach CEO: Club is 'healthy, but not rich'

Borussia Mönchengladbach CEO Stephan Schippers revealed that his club lost between €10 million and €13 million during the Bundesliga's two-month hiatus and could reach €32 million, though Gladbach remains solvent.

"The crisis is a great financial strain for Borussia, but has not threatened the existence [of the club]," Schippers said.

"Borussia Mönchengladbach is healthy, but not rich. We will cope during the crisis, but how big the losses are can only be quantified at a later date."

May 10

-- Nine positive tests in European teams 

A total of nine players in England, Spain and Portugal tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Premier League club Brighton confirmed one new case and Portuguese Primeira Liga team Vitoria Guimaraes reported three, while five players at various clubs in Spain’s top two divisions have also contracted the virus.

Brighton, who have not revealed the player’s identity, have now had three positive cases since March, and the club have confirmed that its players will continue to train at its training base individually.

Vitoria Guimaraes confirmed that all three of their players who tested positive were asymptomatic and had been advised by the club to self-isolate, while the rest of the squad would continue individual training after returning last week.

This comes as each league continues talks on how to restart its seasons, with La Liga insisting that the new cases won’t derail their efforts.

La Liga said it will "continue to apply the back-to-training protocol" and warned everyone to keep following health safety measures suggested by authorities so the numbers of infected players "remains very low.''

-- UFC fighters warned against speaking out

UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighters taking part at the UFC 249 event in Florida could lose their purses and bonuses if they publicly criticize the fight promotion's health precautions for COVID-19, according to an event participation agreement.

Despite the pandemic, the UFC is staging three cards in eight days in Jacksonville, Florida and fighters taking part in the May 9 event were asked to sign an eight-page event participation agreement.

It states that "the participant will not suggest or communicate to any person or entity" that the events "have been or will be held without appropriate health, safety or other precautions, whether relating to COVID-19 or otherwise."

It goes on to say that if a fighter does breach this clause, "the company may revoke all or any part of any prize monies or awards won ... including, but not limited to, purses, win bonuses, other fight-related bonuses and event-based merchandise royalties."

-- Two coronavirus cases at Dynamo Dresden

Second-division side Dynamo Dresden have reported two further COVID-19 cases following a third round of tests.

The whole squad and coaching staff will go into quarantine for 14 days.

The club's sporting director Ralf Minge said: "Fact is that we can't train or compete in the next 14 days."

This means the team will likely not be able to play in their scheduled game against Hannover on May 17.

The football league DFL's Managing Director Christian Seifert told public broadcaster ZDF that the measures were not enough reason to delay the restart of the Bundesliga.

Seifert added, however, that "there is a point when it is no longer feasible. It always depends on how much time you'd have left to finish the season."

The Bundesliga announced this week that it would restart on May 16.

May 9

-- F1 without fans “better than nothing”

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton believes races without spectators are not ideal but worthwhile if it means the season can start.

F1 is planning to begin without fans in Austria on July 5 with the first 10 races of the season postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. 

"I don't know how exciting it is going to be for people watching on TV but it is going to be better than nothing," the 35-year-old said. "For us it is going to be like a test day. But...racing is racing. I really do miss it," he added.

-- Portugal cut from Vuelta

This year’s Vuelta a Espana will no longer go through Portugal, organizers announced on Saturday.

The annual Grand Tour race is one of the most prestigious in the world and has already been postponed from August until October due to COVID-19.

The two-day swing into Portugal follows the Netherlands in being cut from the race and means that stage 15, with its finish-line located between Porto and Matosinhos, as well as stage 16, with its departure from the city of Viseu, are off the route.

-- Quit quarantine for newborn?

Captain of second-division team Darmstadt Fabian Holland has said he would quit the team's quarantine ahead of next weekend's season restart in order to witness the birth of his child.

Bundesliga and second-division sides are having to spend the build-up to matches in hotels as part of required quarantine measures. If Holland were to leave the camp he would not be allowed to play in the match.

"The due date is in one week. So it could be at any time," the 29-year-old defender said. "When the time comes, I will leave the training camp immediately. That's the deal."

Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has been critical of the decision to return
Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has been critical of the decision to returnImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Stache

May 8

-- Subotic criticizes DFL decision 

Union Berlin defender Neven Subotic has criticized the DFL's decision to resume the Bundesliga season behind closed doors.  

"That’s a precarious situation for all of us. It is just going to be a lot of risk management and trying to get to a finished season with the fewest casualties," the Serbian player said in an interview with the BBC. "No matter when we start, it will be too soon."

"We are not going to have games with fans and for me that is what makes it special [...] that is gone, and I don't want to pretend like it is not a huge thing. It is a huge thing and it is what makes it special."

Neven Subotic: 'German football showing it's true colors' during coronavirus crisis

-- Spanish defender refusing to play

While Subotic is unhappy with the DFL's decision to restart the Bundesliga, he hasn't said he won't play. But that's precisely what Rafael Gimenez, better known as Fali, has done. The 26 year-old defender who plays for second-tier Spanish outfit Cadiz, refused to undergo COVID-19 testing as part of the first phase of the sport's return to activity in the country. 

"I'm afraid of infecting someone, that would ruin me and I'm putting health before money," Fali told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, adding that he would voluntarily give up his wages while refusing to play. 

-- K-League draws international attention with restart 

South Korea's K-League season kicked off on Friday with Jeonbuk Motors beating Suwon Bluewings 1-0 thanks to an 86th-minute Lee Dong-gook header in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju. With almost all major sports leagues on hold, foreign interest in Asia's oldest league is at an all-time high. According to the Associated Press, broadcasters from at least 17 countries recently obtaining rights for the league.

"There had been some interest in the K-League before but the number has surged after the announcement of the league starting,'' said K-League President Kwon Oh-gap.

Jeonbuk are the powerhouse of the K-League, having won the title five of the past six years.  

May 7

-- Questions over testing for referees

According to German sports magazine kicker, Bundesliga referees have yet to be tested for the coronavirus. In the DFL's press conference on Thursday though, CEO Christian Seifert did give assurances that all officials would be tested.

Any referees who do test positive may then miss the start of the league on May 16, given that a 14-day quarantine would be necessary.

According to the DFL concept, referees should be tested early in the morning of the day before the game, either by a club near them or in the test routine of the home team for the matchday.

-- Gladbach in the clear

Borussia Mönchengladbach have announced in a statement they will start team training again today, following strict hygiene protocols.

The club said of the 50 tests done on staff and players, everyone tested negative twice other than one staff member. They had a weak positive and then a negative on the second test but have since been placed in quarantine. A player also had a weak positive but has since had two negative test results. Given the results and that all tests were done following the protocols required by local health authorities, all players are now able to return to team training.

"We are looking forward to the prospect of being able to play Bundesliga football again, even though it will sadly be without the support of our fans," the club's sporting director Max Eberl said. "We are taking all hygiene and contact rules very seriously and have the feeling the players are being responsible and disciplined with the situation."

The club also reported that midfielder Denis Zakaria will not be part of training because of knee surgery he underwent last night.

May 6

-- Union's Yunus Malli out of quarantine

Union Berlin said that Yunus Malli has finished his in-home quarantine after a family member tested positive for COVID-19, but he will not return to training unless he is cleared by a doctor.

"Yunus is healthy and not infected, so he is no longer in quarantine," Union managing director Oliver Ruhnert said in a club statement. "However, health precautions are much stricter for professional footballers than for people in other professions. That's why we are waiting for the final medical clearance for Yunus before he trains with us again."

-- Turkish league to resume in June

The Turkish Super Lig, the country's top football division, intends to resume its season on June 12 and aims to finish its season by the end of July. Turkey also plans to host the Champions League final in August.

Turkey suspended its football, basketball and volleyball leagues on March 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Super Lig was one of the last European leagues to halt its season. The Turkish top flight has eight matchdays remaining.

"We are aiming to end the season on July 26 by playing seven weekends and one weekday game," Nihat Ozdemir, the president of Turkey's football federation, told a teleconference.

He said the games will be played without spectators and the Turkish health ministry and its scientific advisory council will put forward the conditions under which the games can be held.

May 5 

-- Aue squad in isolation

Second-division side Erzgebirge Aue has put its entire squad in home isolation after a member of staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

The staff member was not named and it remains unclear how they might have contracted the coronavirus. It was the first confirmed case in the league's second round of testing.

Players, coaches and backroom staff will stay at home ahead of more testing on Thursday.

-- German health minister backs DFL plan to restart Bundesliga 

Germany's health minister has expressed his support for the Bundesliga's plan to resume play behind closed doors later this month.  

"The (football league's) basic plan makes sense and could serve as a model for other professional sports," Jens Spahn told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday. "But we'll have to see how it goes." 

The German Football League (DFL), which operates Germany's top two divisions, is hoping to get the go-ahead to restart the season behind closed doors as soon as May 15, when Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with the country's 16 state premiers in a conference call on Wednesday.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn
German Health Minister Jens SpahnImage: picture-alliance/dpa/B. v. Jutrczenka

It's not clear how a video posted by Hertha Berlin forward Salomon Kalou could influence the political leaders' thinking. The video, posted on Monday, showed the 34-year-old Kalou violating physical distancing rules meant to combat the coronavirus outbreak 

Hertha immediately suspended the Ivory Coast player, a move welcomed by Health Minister Spahn. 

"It was important for the club show that there would be serious consequences after this video," Spahn said. "And I hope that everyone has now understood that this is about something serious." 

For his part, Kalou has apologized for his actions, telling broadcaster Sport1 that "I take responsibility for this stupid mistake."  

-- DFL general meeting to be held on Thursday 

Representatives of the 36 clubs that make up the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have confirmed that they will meet on Thursday to discuss the results of Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with the 16 state prisoners one day earlier. The DFL is hoping the politicians will approve the resumption of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 seasons as soon as May 15.  

-- Doubt cast on Tour de France plans 

French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has cast doubt on plans for the Tour de France to go ahead at a later date than usual. 

The Tour, cycling's biggest event of the year has been postponed from its original June 27 starting date to August 29 due to a ban on large gatherings in France until late August. The sports ministry also said last month that special arrangements may have to be made for the start of the Grand Depart in Nice. 

"Many people are begging me to keep the Tour even behind closed doors," Maracineanu told France Television. "I hope it will take place but I am not sure. We do not know what the epidemic will be like after lockdown." 

May 4

-- Positive tests as Hertha shake hands

With a decision on the potential resumption of the Bundesliga set to be made on Wednesday, the DFL (German Football League) have announced the results for their first set of coronvirus tests.

The organization tweeted out on Monday afternoon that they have so far carried out 1,724 tests at the 36 clubs in the top two divisions and recorded 10 positive tests. This comes the day after top flight outfit Cologne reported three positive cases, which presumably are included in the ten.

The announcement also stated that the DFL sees "individual compliance with hygiene rules as a basic requirement."

But adherence to that looked to have been largely absent in a video posted by Hertha Berlin’s Salomon Kalou on Facebook Live hours earlier that depicts the Ivorian shaking hands, high-fiving and fist bumping his teammates. and his teammate Vedad Ibisevic bumping fists while discussing their recent wage cuts in a club changing room. There was also footage which seemed to show Jordan Torunarigha taking a COVID-19 test.

The DFL quickly tweeted a criticism of Kalou's behavior.

"The pictures of Salomon Kalou from the dressing room of Hertha BSC are absolutely unacceptable," it said in a statement. "There cannot be tolerated when other players and clubs have stuck to the guidelines because they have grasped the seriousness of the situation."

Hertha then later announced they had suspended Kalou from training and "match operations" with immediate effect.

May 3

-- Cologne enter training camp ahead of schedule

Hours after Cologne released a statement in response to their own Birger Verstraete's comments, the Bundesliga club announced, pending political approval on the season being restarted, its plans to go into a training camp earlier than planned in the DFL's medical concept.

This decision is a further step to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19, although the team say this decision was made "regardless of the results of COVID-19 tests" at the club. The DFL task force states that, should the season go ahead, all teams will have to go into quarantine-like training camps one week before games restart. Cologne's decision means they would prefer to start their training camp immediately.

The club have stressed that up until then training will continue under previous measures.

A decision about whether or not the Bundesliga season will return is expected on May 6.

-- Sports minister backs Bundesliga restart

German Sports Minister Horst Seehofer has lent his support to the plan to restart the Bundesliga this month.

"I consider the timetable of the DFL plausible and support a restart in May," The Interior Minister, whose portfolio includes sports, told tabloid Bild am Sonntag. "But it is also clear for me that there can't be any privileges for the Bundesliga."

The German Football League (DFL) and German Football Federation (DFB) propose games behind closed doors under strict conditions and government will make a decision, possibly on Wednesday, about whether the plan can be put in to action.

But the positive results found at Cologne on Saturday (see previous entry) cast more doubt on the situation. The DFB's chief medical officer admitted to Sport1 that the system was not perfect.

"If there are too many positive cases, this system can certainly falter," he said. 

May 2

-- Tennis resumes in Germany

Professional tennis, which had been on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, has resumed in Germany – but in a very limited way. Yannick Hanfmann beat Dustin Brown 4-3 (7-4), 4-0 in a battle of the two top players at an exhibition tournament in the western town of Höhr-Grenzhausen on Saturday. The four-day event, which began on Friday, is being held without fans due to health regulations in force to combat the spread of coronavirus. Only the two players and the umpire are allowed on the court for the matches, which have been shortened to a maximum of seven games.  

At 143, Hanfmann is the highest ranked of the eight German players competing for $25,000 (€22,700) in prize money. Brown, a former top-100 player, is best known for having beaten Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon five years ago. 

Rhineland-Palatinate, where Höhr-Grenzhausen is located, is one of four German states that have allowed tennnis to resume since Chancellor Angelan Merkel and the 16 state premiers agreed on the easing of the coronavirus lockdown last month. It's up to each state to decide what specifically is and isn't allowed under the restrictions.

-- European road cycling championships postponed

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the postponement of the European Road Championships in cycling by a year.  

"Due to the difficult situation affecting the whole world... the European Road Championships in Trentino (Italy) from 9 to 13 September will be postponed to 2021 and will be held in the same city," the UEC, the sport's European governing body wrote in a statement issued on Saturday. 

With elite racing suspended until the start of August, the sport's most prestigious event, the Tour de France, had earlier been moved from July and is now scheduled to start on August 29. 

The European Road Championships are now to take place from September 1-5 or 8-12 in 2021. A final decision on the date is to be made by the world governing body, the UCI.   

-- Cologne come in for criticism

FC Cologne are still hoping that they and the rest of the Bundesliga can resume the season behind closed doors later this month despite the fact that three members of the club have tested positive for the coronavirus.  

"We have reason to be very optimistic," the club's managing director, Alexander Wehrle, told German broadcaster Sky Sports News on Saturday.  

"We can continue training as we have been. The plan has been approved by the authorities and it is sustainable."  

The three, who have not been named, are thought to be two players and a physiotherapist. None of them had shown any symptoms of the virus. 

However, the decision to continue the training routine and the plan for a resumption of play in mid-May are not without controversy. Karl Lauterbach, a prominent physician and member of the German parliament, took to Twitter to reiterate his criticism of the plan to restart the season so soon.  

"It's utterly irresponsible for the players to continue training," Lauterbach wrote. "They need to go into quarantine just as we would demand of any citizen." 

He also noted that "anybody who trains while having COVID-19 is risking damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys."  

May 1

-- Cologne announce positive tests

Bundesliga club Cologne have announced that three of their staff, believed to be a physio and two players, have tested positive for the coronavirus. All are symptom free.

The club said they tested their entire team on Thursday and those affected will go in to quarantine for 14 days. They will continue to train as they have been. 

“The health and private sphere of players and staff have priority above all else. The previous measures, as well as the strategy of regular tests, have proven themselves so that we can now react with individual solutions,” said Effzeh's managing director Horst Heldt. 

The positive tests may have an impact on the return of the Bundesliga, with the league hoping to play behind closed doors later this month.

-- F1 looking to innovative solutions

The first ten races of the 2020 Formula 1 season have been canceled but organizers are still hoping to complete a truncated and rearranged campaign.

The sport's managing director, Ross Brawn, said on Friday that doubleheaders are an attractive option as they aim start the season in a "biosphere" environment behind closed doors.

Austria is set to stage the first race on July 5 and there are suggestions that the Spielberg circuit would get another race the following Sunday, July 12. This could then be followed by two British races at Silverstone on July 19 and 26.

"It's a real consideration because one of the logistical challenges is getting everyone tested and cleared to enter the paddock and enter the racing environment," Brawn told a podcast published on the F1 website on Friday.

"And I think once we do that, it's very attractive to keep everyone in that environment, within that kind of biosphere that we want to create for another race."

Read more: Coronavirus and sports: What happened in April 2020

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