Coronavirus: UFC postpones three events; WTA Tour suspended until May 2

Coronavirus: UFC postpones three events; WTA Tour suspended until May 2
American Sofia Kenin was the last women's player to win a Grand Slam, beating Garbine Muguruza in the 2020 Australian Open final Feb. 1 in Melbourne, Australia. File Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE

March 16 (UPI) -- The Women's Tennis Association announced Monday that it has suspended play until May 2 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Due to the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, the WTA tournaments in Stuttgart, Istanbul and Prague will not be held as scheduled," a WTA spokesperson said. "We regret this is the case for all of our loyal fans, players, sponsors and all those who support women's professional tennis.


"At this point in time, the WTA Tour is now suspended until May 2. We will make a decision in the week ahead regarding the remaining WTA European clay court events and will continue to monitor this situation closely and its impact on the 2020 WTA Tour season."

The suspension in play follows last week's announcement that the ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation were suspending play for six weeks due to safety issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak. That suspension includes men's and women's events scheduled up to and including the week of April 20.


The 2020 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., was one of the first major sporting events canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The largest international tournament outside of the Grand Slams, in terms of attendance, was canceled March 8.

The ITF and ATP suspensions also resulted in the cancellation of several other tournaments, including: the Miami Open; the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston; the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, Morocco; the Monte Carlo Masters; the Barcelona Open; and the Hungarian Open.

Public barred from NFL Draft

The NFL plans to start its new league year on time this week at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, but is making some changes to the 2020 NFL Draft.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that the league canceled public events for the 2020 NFL Draft, which is set for April 23 to 25 in Las Vegas.

"This decision reflects our foremost priority -- the health and safety of all fans and citizens," Goodell said in a statement.

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"While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas convention and visitors authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl."


The league is "exploring innovative options" to conduct the 2020 NFL Draft and said it will provide that information at a later date.

The NFL moved its annual draft from New York City to Chicago in 2015. The 2016 NFL Draft was also held in Chicago before the league started to alternate host cities. The 2019 NFL Draft took place in Nashville.

Gobert diagnosis impacted tournament

NCAA vice president Dan Gavitt said the board of governors was planning to conduct the 2020 Division I basketball tournaments without fans before Wednesday's news broke of Rudy Gobert becoming the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.

"That was really, in my opinion, a seminal moment in everybody's mindset about how impractical and possibly not responsible it would be at that point to go forward with trying to hold these national championships," Gavitt told ESPN.

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. His Utah Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for the coronavirus.

The NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships Thursday -- including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments -- in the wake of the outbreak. The tournaments were scheduled to begin Tuesday.


NBA players can leave cities

The NBA has sent a memo to its 30 teams, informing them that players are allowed to travel outside of their playing cities starting Monday during the league's indefinite suspension.

Sources told The Athletic and ESPN players will be able to travel outside of their markets under certain conditions. The league's indefinite ban has also been extended to include a ban on full team practices.

The NBA still recommends players stay in their respective markets. Any player in self isolation must remain there until they have been cleared by a medical professional. Players are not allowed to travel outside of North America. Players are still allowed to work out at their teams' practice facilities.

Three known NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus, including Gobert, Mitchell and Detroit Pistons big man Christian Wood.

Yankees minor leaguer tests positive

A Minor League Baseball player in the New York Yankees organization has tested positive for the coronavirus. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced the test result Sunday, but did not reveal the player's name.

"The player's symptoms have dissipated, and he is resolved symptom-wise," Cashman told reporters. "No more fever, no more fatigue. He is much better, although he is still isolated."


Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced Thursday that spring training games were canceled and the start of the regular season was delayed by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cashman said the player told the Yankees he had a fever Friday morning. He did not report to the team's facility in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees have self-quarantined all minor league players, including some coaches and personnel, until March 25.

"He did not have any interactions with our Major League players," Cashman said. "And the [Hillsborough County] department of health has communicated to us that they had very little concern about that."

UFC postpones next three events

UFC president Dana White announced Monday the promotion has postponed its next three events, the last of which was scheduled to take place April 11, over concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

White previously said the company was prepared to do whatever it took for the UFC Fight Night events on March 21, 28 and April 11 to go on, but the White House's recommendation to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people altered the promotion's plans.

The UFC also closed its executive offices in Las Vegas, according to White. Despite the closure and postponements, White said next month's highly anticipated title fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn between Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Tony Ferguson (25-3) will take place.


"We have no choice now but to postpone these fights," White told ESPN. "So we're postponing the next three events, but Tony Ferguson versus Khabib [Nurmagomedov], [on] April 18, is still on and that will still happen.

"... We're hoping this all clears up by April. This fight's going to happen. No crowd, whatever it takes, probably not even going to be in the United States. But this fight's going to happen."

Until Monday, the UFC was one of the last sports organizations in the world to suspend competition. The promotion held a UFC Fight Night event last weekend in Brazil without fans in the arena.

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