The coronavirus outbreak has forced difficult decisions for the sports-event industry. Nearly every major sporting event has been canceled, moved or postponed and the question that is on every fan’s mind is: When will they return? While the exact answer is still to be determined for many leagues, some have started the process of returning to action. Here is a look at where things stand.
Friday, June 5
ARCHERY: World Archery Field Championships in South Dakota Moved to 2022
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.
“It is with huge regret that we delay the field championships but this decision had to be made in the current climate,” said Tom Dielen, World Archery secretary general. “We will now focus on scheduling a successful World Games qualification event in 2021 and look forward to the Games and championships in 2022.”
While the field archery world championship has been moved, the Yankton venue is still scheduled to host the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.
“Making the choice to reschedule an event that so many archers are working hard towards is not easy,” said Bruce Cull, Yankton organizing committee and NFAA Foundations president. “We want to host international tournaments that Yankton and the archery community can be proud of and this is just not possible at this time.”
LACROSSE: National Lacrosse League Shuts Down Season
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.
“After an exhaustive effort weighing all of the factors, including the health and safety of our players and staff, immigration challenges and the resources required to execute a post-season tournament under the current circumstances, our senior leadership and Board have agreed to redirect our attention to planning for next season,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “We want to thank all those involved, especially our players, coaches, and league and team staff, and most importantly our fans and partners, for their continued support and engagement through this global pandemic. Communities are starting to open up, sports are beginning to return, and we look forward to our 35th season. We wish everyone continued health and safety as we navigate our way back to the game.”
“We appreciate all the work that Nick and the team at the NLL have put in during these challenging times, and wholeheartedly support this decision,” said Peter Schmitz, President of Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association. “The health and safety of our players is always paramount.”
Thursday, June 4
BASKETBALL: NBA Restart Plan Approved by Owners, but G League Cancelled
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.
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 league also scheduled dates for several offseason events with the draft lottery set on August 25, the draft on October 15 and the 2020–2021 season beginning December 1, according to ESPN.
“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”
While the NBA season will resume, the remainder of the 2019-20 G League season, which was suspended March 12, has been canceled. The regular season was scheduled to conclude March 28.
NASCAR: Cup Series Schedule Update Released
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.
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.
SOCCER: MLS Teams Return to Full Training
Major League Soccer said that its teams can return to full training as another step to full play ahead of a proposed summer tournament in Orlando, Florida. The league and players union finalized its collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday, which will allow the league to resume play with the tournament starting sometime in June.
Details of the Florida tournament were still being finalized. The league’s 26 teams will play matches without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. 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.
While MLS is closer to return, the USL Championship board of governors also picked its restart date, provisionally July 11. Information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details will be made in the coming weeks.
HOCKEY: NHL Playoff Format Further Detailed
The National Hockey League and players union agreed that the qualifying round for its Stanley Cup playoff tournament will be a best-of-five series with the remainder of the playoffs a best-of-seven series. The league announced that the tournament will be reseeded after every round.
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.
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.
SPORTS: Texas Stadiums Allowed to Fill 50 Percent Capacity
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday the attendance capacity at stadiums for professional, collegiate and other sporting events has been raised to 50 percent in an effort to open the state economy effective immediately.
“Stadiums, whether it be where the Mavericks play or the Texas Rangers play or the Dallas Cowboys play, will be able to seat [at] 50 percent capacity,” Abbott told KDFW-TV in Dallas late Wednesday.
The IndyCar Series will open its 2020 season on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth without fans. The PGA Tour has said it plans to restart its season at Colonial in Texas on June 11—14 without fans attending.
AUTO RACING: Indianapolis Going Without Fans in July
The Fourth of July race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will run without spectators, track officials announced after consultation with local and state officials. Stage 5 of Indiana’s reopening plan allows for sporting venues to host events with social distancing but Marion County — home to Indianapolis — recently entered Stage 3.
“While we certainly worked diligently to run our events with spectators, we reached a point where we needed to make a final decision because the race weekend is less than a month away,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “Today it’s not possible to be confident that Indianapolis will be at Stage 5 of the state’s reopening plan by the Fourth of July weekend.”
The culminating event of the weekend will be renamed the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records, in recognition of the company’s efforts to support the supply chain of hand sanitizer available to the public.
Wednesday, June 3
RUNNING: BOLDERBoulder Race Canceled
Organizers of the 42nd annual BOLDERBoulder in 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.
“We have been keeping closely attuned to all the latest information from local and state health officials, and having regular discussions with our partners CU Boulder and the city of Boulder as well as our sponsors,” said Race Director Cliff Bosley. “After consultation, we are all in agreement and we determined that bringing together tens of thousands of people could be a risk to the community.”
Participants already registered will be offered options and alternatives for the 2021 BOLDERBoulder and beyond.
“We recognize the race is not only an annual tradition for thousands of runners ranging from the casual to the elite, but also an important event for the Boulder community,” Bosley said. “We did not make this decision lightly. We considered all our options and implications and in the end knew there were no considerations more important, that health and safety were the prime imperatives.”
BASKETBALL: WNBA May Hold Season at Neutral Site
The WNBA may hold its entire season at one location this summer with the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and IMG Academy in Florida among the candidates to hold games, reported The Associated Press. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP last month that the league was considering a handful of scenarios that included playing at one or two sites.
The league was supposed to begin on May 15 but postponed its start in April. Details on the one-site season remain mostly unclear, although one site that would likely not be an option in Las Vegas is Mandalay Bay because it is the normal home court for the Las Vegas Aces. IMG Academy is in Bradenton, Florida, about 100 miles from Orlando where the NBA and MLS is negotiating to restart its seasons in July.
TENNIS: USTA May Host Two Tournaments in New York
The New York Times reports that the USTA may not only hold the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but it may bring a second event to the site and hold it as a doubleheader.
The move would bring the Western & Southern Open, held traditionally in Cincinnati to New York with the tournament keeping its scheduled date of August 17–23. The U.S. Open is scheduled to start August 31.
The move would allow foreign players to remain in one place in the United States and is designed to draw support of government and public health officials. The New York Times report said both the ATP and WTA tours would need to approve the move. The USTA owns the men’s event staged in Cincinnati while Octagon, a sports and entertainment agency, owns the women’s event.
GOLF: PGA Tour Adds Event in Ohio
The PGA Tour will hold an additional tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in 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. The tour intends to return to play without spectators at the Charles Schwab Challenge, June 11–14 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We understand and respect that the Quad Cities market has dynamics and challenges that prevent the playing of the John Deere Classic in 2020,” said Andy Pazder, PGA Tour chief tournaments and competitions officer. “As we’ve seen through the years, the community support for the John Deere Classic is unwavering and I have no doubt the event will return stronger than ever in its 50th playing in 2021.”
AMATEUR SPORTS: AAU Junior Olympics Site Search Narrows
The AAU Junior Olympic Games is working on a rescheduled site for its event and is down to a few options including Brevard County, Florida, as well as Chicago and a city in North Carolina, according to Florida Today.
AAU First Vice President Rusty Buchanan told the newspaper that AAU governors who represent individual sports organizations will meet next week and could make a decision on a new host then, or decide to cancel the event completely. The AAU Junior Olympic Games, held annually since 1967, will be moving from its scheduled site of Hampton Roads, Virginia. The event hosts about 18,000 participants.
Buchanan also said that he was told to move ahead with planning for how a two-week Junior Olympics might be organized in the county. The Brevard County Commission and Brevard County Tourist Development Council last week approved a package of incentives that could attract the event, funded by a Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals.
The AAU also has decided to postpone the 47th annual AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships, which were scheduled to begin July 14 in Orlando, Florida. The decision was made after a meeting of the AAU, Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force and the Orange County Convention Center. The tournament will be held at a later date so that the OCCC can have additional time to receive its Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR accreditation on outbreak prevention, response and recovery.
“We care deeply about our employees, clients and guests and we will always do what is in the best interest of our community,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “We remain committed to the economic resiliency of our clients and appreciate the AAU’s continued commitment and support of the center.”
Tuesday, June 2
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Notre Dame vs. Navy moved from Ireland to Annapolis
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 decision was made “following extensive consultation with the Irish government, medical authorities and the administrative staffs at Navy and Notre Dame,” a Notre Dame statement read.
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.
“Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020,” said Jack Swarbrick, vice president and athletic director at Notre Dame. “The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We are also grateful for everything our partners in Ireland have done to make this a smooth transition. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not too distant future.”
“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “But, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved. I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large. Once we have a definitive plan in place, we will announce the specifics pertaining to the game.”
AUTO RACING: Formula 1 Ready to Start Season
Formula 1 will start its season on July 5 with a race in 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.
Thursday, May 28
RUNNING: Boston Marathon Rescheduled Date Canceled As Well
The 124th annual Boston Marathon, an April tradition that this year was rescheduled for September 14 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be canceled outright with a virtual event in its place. The announcement was made by the Boston Athletic Association and Mayor Martin Walsh. All participants who were registered for the event will be offered a refund of their entry fee and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative, which can be run between September 7–14. The B.A.A. will also offer a series of virtual events and activities throughout September’s Marathon Week including a downloadable Boston Marathon toolkit that includes race elements such as a printable finish line, winner’s breaktape, and more.
Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2 mile distance within a six-hour time period and provide proof of timing to the B.A.A. All athletes who complete the virtual race will receive an official race program, participant T-shirt, medal, and runner’s bib. The B.A.A. 5K scheduled for September 12 has also been canceled.
CYCLING: Maryland Cycling Classic Postponed to 2021
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. The race, which was scheduled to start in Baltimore County and finish in the city, will attract some of the world’s best cyclists while the weekend-long celebration will include community and lifestyle events. 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.
“While we’re obviously disappointed with the decision to postpone this year, we have a lot of good news to share from sponsors like UnitedHealthcare to the enormous support and endorsement for 2021 by the state of Maryland and city and county of Baltimore,” Sport and Entertainment Corp. of Maryland President Terry Hasseltine said. “This is an internationally sanctioned event with top athletes from 30 countries that will put the international spotlight on Baltimore and the state of Maryland with the race broadcasting on television worldwide. We were expecting up to 100,000 spectators roadside, so our perspective on social responsibility has to be our key indicator.”
COMBAT SPORTS: Fights Scheduled in Las Vegas
The state of Nevada will allow live sporting events without fans to resume starting June 4, and the Nevada Athletic Commission has put two Ultimate Fighting Championship events and two Top Rank boxing events on the cards in Las Vegas. UFC Fight Night and the UFC 250 pay-per-view event at the UFC Apex will be held on May 30 and June 6, respectively. The NAC also will allow a pair of Top Rank boxing events at the MGM Grand to take place on June 9 and June 11. None of the events will be allowed to have fans in the venues.
SOCCER: Premier League Sets Restart Date
England‘s Premier League is scheduled to resume its season on June 17 after clubs gave the go-ahead during a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday, with games between Manchester City and Arsenal, and Aston Villa against Sheffield United scheduled for that date. The completion of those games would put each team in the 20-team league at 29 matches played, with the remaining 90 games on the schedule to be finished by August 1. The schedule would then allow for the FA Cup, currently at the quarterfinal stage, to be completed with the final anticipated on August 8. Germany’s Bundesliga restarted its season May 16 and Spain‘s La Liga is due to return June 11 and Italy‘s Serie A plans on June 20. France’s Ligue 1 earlier postponed the rest of its season but UEFA says it plans to finish the 2019–2020 Champions League and Europa League campaigns by August.
Wednesday, May 27
SOCCER: NWSL Tournament in Utah to Start June 27
The National Women’s Soccer League will become the first professional league in the United States to return to competition with the NWSL Challenge Cup starting June 27 with all games held at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, for the group stage with the semifinals and finals held at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The tournament will consist of 25 games with no fans in attendance. All nine teams in the NWSL will compete with each team playing four games in a preliminary round to determine seeding for an eight-team playoff tournament.
The tournament opener and championship game will be on CBS with all other games on the CBS All Access subscription service as partner of the league’s new television contract with the network. All housing, training, and competition needs for the league’s nine teams will be created in the Salt Lake Valley as an “NWSL Village” to control as much of the environment as possible. Each player, official, and essential staff member will be tested 48 hours prior to departure for Utah and upon arrival and will be subject to consistent testing, temperature readings, and symptom review.
Tuesday, May 26
Winter Sports: Burton 2021 Event Postponed
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.
“This was a difficult call to make since we’re so many months away from the next Burton U.S. Open, and we’re not sure what will be happening with the pandemic nine months from now,” said Burton CEO John Lacy. “After playing out multiple options for the 2021 event, we realized there is too much at stake due to the potential public health risk and the financial risk for Burton to invest millions in an event that could end up being cancelled.”
NFL: Dolphins Owner Says Season Will ‘Definitely’ Happen
Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross told CNBC in an interview that “I think there definitely will be a football season this year,” and that he plans to have fans in the stadium. The NFL has not made a decision on whether to allow fans into stadiums during the 2020 season, but the league plans to play its full 16-game slate starting September 10. The league announced when it released the schedule that it will schedule all 2020 games in the United States and will not have games in Mexico City or London.
Ross’ comments came the Pittsburgh Steelers’ director of communications said on Twitter over the weekend that only 50 percent of individual game tickets will be sold to the public because the team wants to be prepared for social distancing scenarios.
When fans do return, the Dolphins would have new entrances and several social distancing guidelines including markers on the ground to separate mask-wearing fans entering the stadium and concession orders being made entirely online with touchless delivery. Dolphins CEO and President Tom Garfinkel revealed mock-ups of the new entrances recently on “Good Morning America” and said the capacity for fans with social distancing would be 15,000 this season.
TENNIS: World TeamTennis to Play at Greenbrier … With Fans
World TeamTennis will play its 45th annual season at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, starting July 12 with up to 500 fans allowed at the outdoor matches.
The schedule will include at least three matches per day at The Greenbrier’s 2,500-seat outdoor stadium, with an indoor court to be installed as a backup option, for the league’s nine franchises. World TeamTennis said in a release it “will engage with its teams and league and venue personnel in conducting all necessary testing and screening for COVID-19, as well as outfitting all parties with the personal protective equipment necessary to conduct its 2020 season matches while preserving the health and safety of everyone at The Greenbrier over the three-week season.”
Among the players in the league are 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, 2017 U.S. Open champ and 2018 French Open finalist Sloane Stephens, Grigor Dimitrov, Sam Querrey and Bob and Mike Bryan.
Saturday, May 23
MULTISPORT: World Transplant Games Canceled
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 World Transplant Games Federation. 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.
“Although a global pandemic has presented challenges to us as a host city, we are still committed to the mission of increasing awareness for transplantations worldwide,” HCHSA President Janis Burke said. “With that same goal in mind, we’ll organize a virtual event next year which will allow everyone the opportunity to participate in an international athletic activity. It will also benefit the World Transplant Games Federation which relies on the Games to help fund its operations and important donor messaging initiatives.”
Thursday, May 21
AUTO RACING: IndyCar Reshuffles Schedule Again
The IndyCar Series has further adjusted its 2020 season schedule, canceling events at Richmond Speedway as well as the Honda Indy Toronto event held on the streets in Toronto while adding another doubleheader race at the Road America course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. IndyCar will start its 2020 season on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway with the Genesys 300, running a condensed schedule with practice, qualifying and the race on the same day and without fans in attendance.
After the season opener, the series will take a break for several weeks before the revised 2020 schedule picks up with five races in a 15-day stretch starting July 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, followed by a doubleheader at Road America on July 11 and 12 followed by a doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The Indianapolis 500 will be held on August 23, and there will be a doubleheader weekend in September at Monterey, California, as well as another road course event at Indianapolis.
The season will finish on October 25 at the rescheduled Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida. This will be the 16th consecutive year that IndyCar will race on the city streets; the original March 15 date would have started the season, as is the IndyCar tradition, but it will be the first time that St. Petersburg hosts the season finale. Previously purchased tickets to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be valid on the corresponding days of the postponed event.
COLLEGE SPORTS: Workouts Allowed Effective June 1
The NCAA Division I Council will allow voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 — as long as local, state and federal regulations are followed — as several college leaders have expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible. The vote by the council came as Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said in conference call that he believes the Buckeyes could safely play home games with 20,000 to 30,000 fans in its 105,000-seat stadium. Smith said he hadn’t figured out yet how those 20,000 to 30,000 spectators would be chosen. He said masks and other precautions would be required.
The presidents of Miami and Notre Dame said they expect the football season to be played. Notre Dame President John Jenkins told MSNBC he expects to have clarity on how the football season can happen in the next few weeks and Miami President Julio Frenk told CNN he hopes the Hurricanes can play this fall and that safety would be the top priority.
The Division I Council also passed a series of waivers that included suspending the minimum football attendance required of Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years. The NCAA also this week lowered the minimum and maximum number of games Division II schools are required to play in all sports next year.
ACTION SPORTS: BMX Relaunches Event in Oklahoma
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.
“USA BMX remains committed to providing a safe, quality and fun environment for BMX racing at both the local and national level,” USA BMX COO John David said. “It is fitting that a series which concludes in Oklahoma, the new home of USA BMX, will also have a rebirth in this great state. Our staff has worked tirelessly to create and implement new safety protocols to ensure that our BMX family can return to the race track and enjoy BMX on the national level.”
ENDURANCE SPORTS: USA Triathlon Reschedules Events
USA Triathlon has decided to reschedule the 2020 USA Triathlon Clydesdale & Athena National Championships that were scheduled for June 28 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The event will now take place as part of Team Magic’s 35th Annual Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon on August 15, at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama. Athletes currently registered for the 2020 Clydesdale & Athena National Championships have a variety of deferral options, including transferring their registration to the rescheduled 2020 event in Pelham, the 2021 Clydesdale & Athena National Championships in Chattanooga, or any future Team Magic event in 2020 or 2021. USA Triathlon also announced that the 2021 Clydesdale & Athena National Championships have been awarded to the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. The event is scheduled for June 27.
Wednesday, May 20
BOWLING: PBA Tour Ready to Resume
The Professional Bowlers Association will resume starting June 6 with a PBA Strike Derby televised on Fox. The competition will be in Jupiter, Florida, without fans. Eight players will compete in a timed competition with each player getting two minutes to record as many strikes as they can. They will then be placed into an elimination bracket where the derby will continue until a champion is named. The tour will also have a Summer Clash on June 13 and a four-night series in July. Regularly scheduled PBA Tour events that were postponed are being rescheduled for the fall and winter.
Tuesday, May 19
HORSE RACING: Belmont Goes First For 2020 Triple Crown
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. According to the New York Times, the Preakness Stakes preceded the Derby in the Triple Crown order from 1923 through 1932.
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 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in 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.
Monday, May 18
BASEBALL: 10,000 COVID Tests Per Week, Owners Propose
Major League Baseball owners have released a 67-page proposal on how the 2020 season would be held, with up to 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week for players and staff as well as new social distancing and public health guidelines for players and stadiums. Among the details in MLB’s return to play proposal to players last week, previously released, is an 82-game regular season starting in July with the use of home stadiums that have approval from local and state governments. The playoffs would be expanded to seven teams in each league and the National League would join the American League in using the designated hitter.
MLB has already canceled one-off events including the Little League Classic between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles scheduled for August 23 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as well as the second annual London Series and planned regular-season games in Mexico and Puerto Rico. The All-Star Game in Los Angeles and Field of Dreams Game in Iowa are still on the calendar as of today. Several minor league All-Star Games have been canceled as teams wait to begin the regular season but the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has been postponed for the first time in its history.
Sunday, May 17
TRACK AND FIELD: USATF Masters Track Nationals Canceled
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. “As one can imagine, we are extremely disappointed that the USATF Masters Track & Field Championships had to be canceled, but in the end this was the right decision,” said Hill Carrow, chairman of the Greensboro local organizing committee. “Greensboro will now look forward to hosting the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in a future year.”
Friday, May 15
TRIATHLON: Ironman Postpones 2020 World Championship
Ironman and its host city partners have announced that the 2020 editions of the World Championship in Hawaii and the 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand, will be postponed. The championship event in Kailua, Kona, was scheduled to take place in October but will now be staged February 6, 2021. A new date for the New Zealand race, which was set for November, has not been determined, although efforts are being made to stage the race in 2021. In 2019, the Ironman World Championship generated an estimated economic impact of $72 million, according to a study conducted by Markrich Research.
“The Ironman World Championship has been a cornerstone in showcasing our island’s attributes to the world for decades,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawai`i Visitors Bureau. “We fully support their decision to postpone these races, and we feel that it is the right thing to do to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community.”
TENNIS: ATP, WTA Tours Extend Suspensions
Both the ATP and WTA Tours have extended the suspensions of play, with the ATP canceling all tournaments through the end of July and the WTA Tour going through July 12. All of the WTA tournaments affected are in Europe, while one of the ATP Tour events affected is in Newport, Rhode Island.
The next scheduled Grand Slam is the U.S. Open starting August 24 in New York City — but that is in doubt, with USTA President and CEO Mike Dowse saying on April 16 that the tournament is in discussions with medical experts and will make a decision in June on the tournament’s viability. Dowse recently told Inside Tennis Magazine that “nothing is off the table” for the tournament, including the option of moving it to November at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, home of the BNP Paribas Open.
It has not been a smooth season for tennis as the All England Lawn and Tennis Club canceled Wimbledon, the oldest major in tennis and the Laver Cup, an international event planned in Boston, will be held in September 2021 instead of its original 2020 dates. The French Tennis Federation, which already delayed the French Open from May until September 20, has announced the Grand Slam may be further delayed another week until September 27.
WRESTLING: USA Wrestling Forms COVID-19 Committees
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:
- A COVID-19 Advisory Committee will advise the NGB on all aspects of the pandemic, with special focus on the medical, scientific and government aspect of the situation.
- A Return to Practice and Competition Committee will includes medical experts and wrestling event organizers.
- A Collegiate Wrestling COVID-19 Sustainability Planning Committee has been developed with college athletic administrators and coaches, plus USA Wrestling and sport industry leaders to address unique challenges ahead in college sports.
- A Public Relations and Messaging Committee will bring together numerous respected public relations professionals from a variety of industries, along with medical and athlete representation.
“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.”
SUPERCROSS: Monster Energy AMA Series to Resume May 31 in Utah
Feld Entertainment has announced that Monster Energy AMA Supercross will resume racing at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on May 31 and will run through June 21. The series, which saw its events halted in March, will feature seven races that will be broadcast on NBC networks without fans in attendance. The return was coordinated with the help of the Utah Sports Commission. Mitigation efforts for athletes and support staff will include mandated prescreening, testing, temperature checks, face masks, increased sanitation efforts and social distancing to limit contact among individuals executing the events. In partnership with Alpinestars Medical Unit, the series has a trained medical team of seven professionals to assist on site.
Thursday, May 14
AUTO RACING: NASCAR Schedules More Races in South
NASCAR, as it prepares to return to full racing with four events in its top series within a 10-day span, has announced the next set of events with events throughout the South. The auto racing circuit will visit Bristol Speedway in Virginia on May 31; Atlanta Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, on June 7; Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on June 10; Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida on June 14; and Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on June 21. Bristol, Atlanta, Miami and Talladega will also each host an Xfinity Series race. Atlanta and Miami will also host Gander Truck Series events.
NASCAR returned May 17 at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, South Carolina, and plans to run four races in a 10-day span without fans at both Darlington and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. There will be no practice sessions for any event and qualifying will only be held for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24. Other adjustments include mandating the use of protective equipment, health screenings for all individuals before entering the facility and maintaining social distancing protocols.
Wednesday, May 13
GOLF: PGA Tour Outlines Playing Procedures
The PGA Tour has sent a memo to players outlining how the season will be conducted once it re-opens on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, with testing and daily thermal screens of every person on site. Golfers, caddies and tournament staff will have to fill out health questionnaires and be tested for coronavirus when first at the course, then have the sequence repeated each day before being allowed on the grounds. Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus will have to be quarantined and not compete.
The suspended season has wreaked havoc on the golf calendar and especially the four major championships. The Masters is “targeting” the week of November 9–15 to host its rescheduled event in Augusta, Georgia. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Course in Mamaroneck, New York, will be moved to September 14–20 and the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco will be August 3–9. The British Open canceled its event for the first time since World War II.
COLLEGE SPORTS: CSU Decision Leaves Mountain West Uncertain of Fall Play
The immediate future of college athletics in the fall is uncertain with no clarity on if schools and universities will make decisions on their own or rely on conferences to determine the future of events. The lack of clarity was laid bare on Tuesday when NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN that it would not mandate a uniform return to athletic competition, leaving the decision up to state officials and university presidents. That will leave the Mountain West Conference having to figure out how it will proceed after the California State University system said it will hold fall classes primarily by virtual learning. San Diego State, Fresno State and San Jose State are MW members and part of the CSU system.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, Fresno State president Joseph Castro, San Diego State president Adela de la Torre and San Jose State president Mary Papazian also released a joint statement:
Mountain West Response to California State University Systems Fall 2020 Operational Plans pic.twitter.com/q7gSmd4jfN
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) May 13, 2020
Several conferences have already released a series of actions for the fall including the Big Sky Conference, the Mid-American Conference, the Big South Conference and the Atlantic 10 Conference. College athletics came to a halt in March when the NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, along with all winter and spring championships.
Tuesday, May 12
Gymnastics: USA Gymnastics Postpones All Premier Events
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.
Track & Field: Diamond League Revises Schedule
The Diamond League, track and field’s most high-profile circuit during non-Olympic years, has released a revised schedule starting August 14 in Monaco and having 11 events, many of them one-day exhibitions rather than full showcases. There will not be a final championship meet and this year’s scheduled host, Zurich, will host in 2021 and 2022 instead. One of the events on the 2020 schedule is 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• The Premier Lacrosse League, which was scheduled to start its second season on May 29, will instead have a two-week tournament without fans starting July 25 with seven teams playing in a 14-game group format for the first week, then having single-elimination play the second week. The location for the tournament has not been announced; the league will implement COVID-19 preventative measures and restrict travel in and out of the event with an estimated 300 people on site in total.
• 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.
• 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.
• The LPGA has adjusted its schedule with a targeted date of resuming in mid-July with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Michigan. The tour will reshuffled several events around with the intent of being able to have as many events in 2020 as possible, with multiple tournaments moved into what would have been the offseason because they are in warmer climates.
• World Long Drive, which organizes driving for distance competitions, has announced it will cancel its regular season and Q-series, although a championship event in 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.
• The Peachtree Road Race in 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• The world’s most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, has been postponed after French President Emmanuel Macron announced all public events with large crowds have been canceled until at least mid-July. A new start date has been set for August 29, with the event scheduled to run through September 20. The Tour de France was last canceled in 1946 after the end of World War II. The Tour of Utah, the only multi-day men’s cycling stage race in North America on the UCI Pro Series, has been canceled. This year’s event was to run from August 3–9.
• The rebooted XFL, which was in its inaugural season before suspending the campaign after five weeks, has been shut down after the league filed for bankruptcy in Delaware; its top creditor is the St. Louis Sports Commission at $1.6 million and among its other creditors in the top 25 was the New Meadowlands Stadium Company ($368,000), DC Stadium LLC ($316,112.71) and Houston Athletics ($294,461.90) along with the Tampa Sports Authority ($260,000). The XFL was originally launched by WWE’s Vince McMahon in 2001 before folding after one season.
• AVP beach volleyball tour events scheduled for Austin, Texas and Seattle have been canceled. The tour will start on June 19 with the Gold Series New York City Open and the event in Huntington Beach, California, traditionally the season opener, will instead be the season finale from October 2–4.