San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan expressed his displeasure with the rules the NBA has put in place for the resumption of the season following the coronavirus-enforced break.

The NBA is set to resume via a 22-team format at Orlando's Disney World complex on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis in March.

The league included a 113-page health and safety handbook as part of its restart plan later this month in Orlando. It covers a wide array of topics such as social distancing outside of games and practices to prohibiting doubles in ping-pong (table tennis).

"The ping-pong this is ridiculous, to be honest," Spurs guard DeRozan said on Thursday. "Guys can't do this, but we can do this and battle over each other? That part just don't make no sense to me.

"I got through 10 lines of the handbook and just put it down because it became so frustrating and overwhelming at times, because you just never thought you'd be in a situation of something like this. So it's hard to process."

Another area of concern for DeRozan specifically is the mental well-being of the players.

DeRozan has been a vocal advocate for players' mental health and the isolated nature of the bubble could be a challenge for players from a mental standpoint.

"It's tough. You're taking guys that have been with their families every single day for the last few months and all of a sudden, separating everybody into this one confined space and taking away a lot of the joyful things we do outside of basketball that we won't be able to do," the four-time All-Star said. "It'll be something for every single player when it comes to mental health."

DeRozan is not the first player to voice his feelings over the NBA's restart plan.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard jokingly said on Wednesday that some players will break rules in the league's handbook, despite warnings or restrictions.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said during a videoconference call that living in the bubble will be challenging for players used to having few rules on the road.

San Antonio head to Orlando in 12th place in the Western Conference, four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot.

Anthony Davis believes the Los Angeles Lakers have a higher chance of winning the NBA championship thanks to the coronavirus-enforced break.

The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with LeBron James' Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

The Lakers topped the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the COVID-19 crisis and All-Star Davis feels the storied Los Angeles franchise are primed to claim their first NBA ring since 2010.

"Actually, I think our chances are higher just because we're all rested and we're all ready to go," Davis told reporters via a videoconference call on Thursday.

"If anything, our chances got higher and it's going to be about just who wants it more."

Davis added: "It's been good for me to kind of let some of them lingering injuries I had towards the time when the NBA stopped to kind of recover and heal and get back into the best version of myself.

"I feel 100 per cent healthy. Well, I don't feel, I am [100 per cent healthy]. I feel like I'm ready. Ready to go."

The Lakers had gone 8-2 after the All-Star break, with James and team-mate Davis leading the way.

Davis was averaging 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game prior to the postponement.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said: "[When] you're on the floor, you have an opportunity to grow and your team has an opportunity to grow.

"When we get to Orlando, it'll be the next step in that process and his journey in this season as a Laker. We look forward to seeing – hopefully the best is yet to come."

The Toronto Blue Jays were granted a waiver by the Canadian government allowing the team to train in their home ballpark this month.

The Blue Jays had previously planned on preparing for the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

Without the exemption granted by the Canadian government, players and staff would have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon crossing the United States-Canada border, making the location untenable.

All other 29 MLB teams were already planning on holding preseason training at their home ballparks.

While training in Canada is a step forward for the Blue Jays, the club are still without a settled home once the season starts later this month.

"While no final decision has been made on a site for Blue Jays regular-season home games, the club's preference remains Rogers Centre," the team said in a statement on Thursday.

"The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront. The Blue Jays will communicate updates about the regular season as information becomes available."

Canadian health authorities have already approved a plan for the NHL to play the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, but the plan does not involve travel between the USA and Canada.

After months of bitter negotiations, MLB and the players' union agreed last month to a 60-game season with a target start date of July 23.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown said no one has worked harder than Joel Embiid as he hailed the All-Star ahead of the NBA's return.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to restart via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

Embiid's fitness has always been a topic of discussion and all eyes will be on the three-time All-Star center when the NBA returns following the coronavirus pandemic.

Philadelphia will recommence against Eastern Conference rivals the Indiana Pacers, who share identical 39-26 records to be fifth and sixth respectively, on August 1.

And Brown had high praise for Embiid's training and conditioning midweek.

"Let's start with the respect and applause I give him for putting in time. There is nobody on our team that has put in more time than Joel Embiid," Brown told reporters on Wednesday.

"Forget what he has actually done in the gym for a minute, just go to the man hours and consecutive days and the amount of days he has put in over the past few months. I'm proud of him, I respect him. He needed to do it. We understand the impact he can have on our team."

Embiid had been averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season.

"We've got a three-week runway to deliver him to the regular season," Brown said. "I'm looking for Joel to come in in as good of shape as he's been in since I have coached him.

"I think the three weeks we have together is an inverted sort of luxury we haven't had. I'm excited for Jo to get back into this and show what he has been doing the last few months."

The 76ers – 14 games behind the Eastern Conference and NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) – are also set to be boosted by the return of fellow All-Star Ben Simmons.

Simmons has been sidelined since February due to a back injury, but Brown added: "He's good to go. He's put in a tremendous amount of work for me to be able to confidently say that.

"As you search for silver linings with this pandemic and the way things have shaped up, it would be hard-pressed for me to find something more obvious than this: It's enabled Ben to reclaim his health. He's good to go, and we look forward to watching him with what I'm told is effectively 100 per cent health."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo believes the 2020 NBA title will be the "toughest championship you could ever win" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to return via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee boasted a league-best 53-12 record prior to the postponement, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference.

As teams prepare to be based in an Orlando bubble, reigning MVP Antetokounmpo insisted this season's championship should not come with an asterisk.

"I feel like a lot of people say that there's gonna be a star next to this championship," Antetokounmpo said.

"I feel like, at the end of the day, this is gonna be the toughest championship you could ever win – because the circumstances are really, really tough right now. So whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it."

Antetokounmpo added: "Everybody has concerns about their health. Nobody wants to put themselves in risk out there, but at the end of the day, that's what the NBA chose, and we're gonna resume the games, and we've all gotta do our job.

"And my job is to play basketball and go out there and support my team-mates and represent the city. But for sure, I think me, my team-mates, my family – especially my mum – everybody has concerns about our health, and my health."

The Bucks will return to action against the Boston Celtics on July 31 as Milwaukee eye their first championship since 1971.

"I feel like the champion from this experience, from this season, I think is going to be more worthy and probably more special than any [other] champion," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game prior to the NBA's suspension.

"I want to be one of the best players to ever play the game," four-time All-Star Antetokounmpo said. "I did the best job I could do trying to stay ready and trying to have my team ready for this journey that we're about to go on to leave and play games.

"But as I said, whoever wants it more, whoever is mentally prepared for all this, what's going on in Orlando, that's the team that's gonna come out on top."

The Denver Nuggets expect to have All-Star center Nikola Jokic at their disposal for the NBA's restart, head coach Michael Malone said.

Jokic remains in his native Serbia having reportedly tested positive for coronavirus as the NBA plans to resume after the 2019-20 season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league is set to return via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30, with the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in action on the first day back.

Denver are scheduled to resume their campaign against the Miami Heat in the Orlando bubble on August 1 and the Nuggets expect Jokic to return to the United States in time.

"Nikola feels great," Malone told reporters via a Zoom call on Wednesday. "We are working on getting him back here.

"Next Tuesday we depart for Orlando; the hope and expectation is that Nikola Jokic will be with us on that plane.

"From everything that I have heard and talked to him, he feels great, he feels fine and is excited to get back."

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Jokic was averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game for the Nuggets.

The Nuggets were third in the Western Conference with a 43-22 record, behind leaders the Lakers (49-14) and the Clippers (44-20).

Denver, meanwhile, opted to close down their practice facility following COVID-19 cases.

"We have closed down the facility," Malone confirmed. "We felt it was the right thing to do. Today was supposed to be the first day of Phase 3 where all our players were required to be back in the gym and we are allowed to work with them albeit just 1-on-0.

"We have put the safety of our team ahead of this Phase 3. There is a chance we can open the gym up before we leave, depending upon results in the coming days. I am not going to get into who tested but we have had multiple people in our travel party test positive."

Amid the unprecedented situation, Malone feels this season's NBA championship will be the toughest ever contested.

"There has been this ongoing dialogue and conversation that whoever wins it this year, there will be an asterisk by their name and I don't buy that at all," Malone later added.

"If you are able to go into a bubble and be isolated from your friends and family, to have no home-court advantage, to have a league interruption of four months and you are able to spend 90 days and come out of there a champion, I think this will be the toughest championship ever won. There is no asterisk."

With the MLS season set to resume next week, the league says six FC Dallas players have tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando, Florida.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the MLS said two players tested positive immediately upon arrival at the host hotel, and the additional four tested positive within the last two days.

FC Dallas said every member of their traveling party tested negative before leaving for Florida on Saturday.

All six players were immediately moved to the isolation area of the hotel, and are in daily communication with and receive remote care from a healthcare provider.

The rest of the FC Dallas delegation is following MLS' health and safety protocols and quarantining in their hotel rooms pending the results of additional testing.

The league added that no other members of the MLS delegation have tested positive, and no other clubs have been in contact with Dallas' delegation.

On Sunday, MLS said 18 players and six club staff tested positive prior to traveling to Orlando.

The MLS, which has been suspended since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to resume on July 8 with the MLS is Back Tournament at the Disney World Resort.

FC Dallas open play in the group stage on July 9 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Championship club Wigan Athletic have gone into administration, with the impact of coronavirus cited as a "significant" factor.

The English Football League confirmed a 12-point deduction will be imposed, though it will only apply this season if the Latics finish outside the bottom three.

Wigan, who lifted the FA Cup in 2013 in the same season they were relegated from the Premier League, are 14th and have won six of their last seven games.

Gerald Krasner, Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators.

"Obviously the suspension of the Championship season due to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the recent fortunes of the club," Krasner said in a statement.

Long-time owner Dave Whelan sold the club in 2018 and it changed hands again in May this year, with Next Leader Fund taking control.

The delayed Chinese Super League (CSL) season will begin on July 25, five months after it was originally scheduled to start.

The CSL was due to get under way on February 22, with Guangzhou Evergrande looking to defend their title, but was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Suzhou and Dalian have been chosen by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) as the two cities to host games, though the governing body is yet to confirm the schedule.

"In order to satisfy the broad masses of people's eager anticipation of the restoration of the Chinese Football Association Super League, the CFA decided after a study that the 2020 Super League will be held on July 25 in Suzhou and Dalian respectively," a statement read.

"The CFA will do its utmost to ensure the service guarantee of the tournament, strictly abide by the requirements of the national epidemic prevention work, and conscientiously do a good job in the organisation and management of the tournament to ensure the safe and orderly progress of the CSL."

Champions Guangzhou, who are managed by former Italy international Fabio Cannavaro, finished two points clear of Beijing Guoan last season.

Qingdao Huanghai and Shijiazhuang Ever Bright were promoted to the top tier for 2020 but Tianjin Tianhai have disbanded since the previous campaign, declaring bankruptcy in May.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) released the schedule for the remaining matches of the coronavirus-hit A-League season, with a bonanza of 27 games in 28 matches before a quick-fire finals series.

The 2019-20 A-League campaign has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis, but Australia's premier football competition is set to restart on July 16 followed by a five-game finals series – the Grand Final to take place on August 23.

A derby between Melbourne Victory and Western United – originally scheduled for AAMI Park in Melbourne – will be played at a stadium still to be determined due to a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

Six venues will be used in New South Wales and Queensland with the potential for more to be added subject to government regulations – ANZ Stadium (NSW), Bankwest Stadium (NSW), Central Coast Stadium (NSW), McDonald Jones Stadium (NSW), Jubilee Stadium (NSW) and Cbus Stadium (QLD).

"Over the past three months all stakeholders have been working hard together with one goal in mind – To finish what we started," FFA's Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke said on Wednesday.

"We know the COVID-19 environment has been very difficult for many people in our community and we hope that delivering an extravaganza of matches will allow our fans to basically see a game everyday will be a unique experience for those who have stood by us.

"As we are a truly national game, the current border controls means that some of the match day venues may need to change, however we have secured venues in both a NSW Hub model and a hybrid hub model which has most games in NSW but allows for a few games in other states.

"Whilst we don't see the draw changing, the planning we have undertaken provides us with agility to shift between certain states if required. This version of the draw displays our current venue plan.

"We will continue to work with the Federal and State governments to ensure the health and safety of our players, coaches and other stakeholders and have detailed and practical protocols in place for all parties involved in training and match days.

"I am excited to see us kick off the restart and ultimately finish off what we started last October, with our priority always being to be in a position to crown our Hyundai A-League premiers and champions for this season."

Defending champions Sydney FC top the table by eight points through 20 matches, though second-placed Melbourne City have played three games less.

Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka believes the NBA restart in the Orlando bubble will be a "mental test".

The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with LeBron James' Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

The Lakers topped the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

"I think Orlando itself is going to be as much of a mental test as it is a physical test just because of the extraordinary circumstances there," Pelinka said on a video conference call on Tuesday.

"I think a team like ours, that has such a strong togetherness component, will have an advantage at that part. This team of guys love being together and love playing together. I think that's the significant part of the [first] 63 games."

Pelinka, whose Lakers will be without Avery Bradley after he opted out of the restart, added: "We have put a ton of thought into the mental part of this journey. It is going to be as much as a physical grind as it's going to be a mental grind.

"And I think the mental component might even be more paramount. And so, yes ... we have mental wellness people on staff here and we've been working with them on developing a protocol to address some of the concerns that are going to come up from an extended time away from family or an extended time living in a city that's not your home."

The Lakers had gone 8-2 after the All-Star break, with James and team-mate Anthony Davis leading the way for the storied Los Angeles franchise, who have not won a championship since 2010.

"I think that we're in a unique situation where we've had such a strong chemistry, such a strong team chemistry, that I think that platform is going to be seamless in terms of guys jumping on and being part of that identity and chemistry that we already had formed," Pelinka said.

"I don't see that changing at all with the new additions, just because it's such a strong identity."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver conceded the league's planned restart could be scrapped due to coronavirus cases.

The 2019-20 NBA season is set to return via a 22-team format at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida on July 30 after the campaign was halted due to COVID-19 in March.

However, there are concerns after Brooklyn Nets pair DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie tested positive for coronavirus – the duo will sit out the team's campaign.

"Never full steam ahead no matter what," Silver told TIME 100 Talks when asked if the league does not go ahead. "One thing we are learning about this virus is much [is] unpredictable, and we and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis.

"If there were something to change that was outside of the scope of what we are playing for, certainly we would revisit our plans.

"We are testing daily. We haven't put a precise number on it, but if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well."

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans are scheduled to face the Utah Jazz in the first game back on July 30, with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers also in action against the Los Angeles Clippers on the same day.

Silver added: "We are going to see as we go. Certainly if cases are isolated, that's one thing. A lot of the determination will be our understanding of how our community became infected. That will be part of our judgment in terms of whether we should continue. But certainly if we had a lot of cases, we are going to stop. You cannot run from this virus.

"I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus because there aren't many situations that I am aware of where there is mass testing of asymptomatic employees.

"In some ways, this is maybe a model for how other industries can ultimately open. But I am only going to say we will be responsible and watch what is happening, but the biggest indicator will be if we begin to see a spread in our community."

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he is very optimistic slugger Aaron Judge will be ready to play when the abbreviated MLB season starts in late July. 

Judge reported pain in his right shoulder and pectoral muscle just before spring training began and it was later revealed that he had since recovered from a collapsed lung. 

The two-time All-Star did not play in any spring training games. 

That came after Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his first right rib in early March, an injury the Yankees believed dated back to an attempted catch on September 18. 

Judge received pain-killing injections and played through the 2019 postseason, batting .265 (9-for-34) with one home run and two RBIs in nine games.  

The 28-year-old originally said he was optimistic he would be ready by opening day on March 26 against the Baltimore Orioles prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Yankees later said they felt that was unlikely.

"We are very optimistic as of right now that maybe his proximation that he would be ready on opening day and in the lineup will ring true," Cashman said on Tuesday.

"So now it comes down to game reps and facing live pitching and seeing if he's in game shape."

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Yankees are reported to open the season on the road against World Series champions the Washington Nationals on July 23.  

Judge has batted .273 with 110 homers and 246 RBIs in 396 career games but has dealt with various injuries the past two seasons.  

Clemens Tonnies has resigned from his post as Schalke chairman in the wake of controversy surrounding a coronavirus outbreak in a slaughterhouse he part-owns.

Jens Buchta has taken over his role with the Bundesliga club.

Tonnies, who had been chairman for 19 years, attracted criticism earlier this month after more than 1,500 people working in meat processing facility in Rheda-Wiedenbruck – his hometown – tested positive for COVID-19.

The plant is run by Tonnies Holding, a company the businessman owns a stake in, and the outbreak caused local authorities to temporarily close the facility and shut down schools in the area until the end of the month.

The company was accused of not adequately protecting their staff with respect to social-distancing measures, but Tonnies insisted he would not resign his position with the meat-processing business despite accepting responsibility for the outbreak.

Over 1,000 Schalke fans turned up at the club's Veltins Arena on Saturday to protest Tonnies while the team were hammered 4-0 at Freiburg in the final match of a disappointing Bundesliga season.

Fans' frustrations with the 64-year-old are not new.

The club has been crippled by financial issues, supporters believe their core values have been abandoned and Tonnies himself was embroiled in a race row last year, though Schalke's honorary board later deemed his remarks were not racist.

Schalke supporters finally have their wish, however, with Tonnies' resignation confirmed on Tuesday.

A statement read: "Clemens Tonnies was chairman of the Schalke supervisory board for 19 years. On Tuesday (June 30), the 64-year-old entrepreneur informed the association that he would resign from the office with immediate effect and leave the committee."

Buchta, who was deputy chairman of the supervisory board, has since been unanimously voted as Tonnies' successor.

Mohammad Hafeez is among six Pakistan players given the all-clear to join the squad touring England after returning a second negative test for coronavirus.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz are also set to join the team in Worcestershire, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed on Tuesday.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and three T20Is in England, but preparations for those matches were plunged into doubt after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.

However, a PCB statement said: "Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz have tested negative for Covid-19 for the second time in three days and, as such, are now eligible to join the Pakistan men's national cricket team in Worcestershire.

"The players were retested on Monday, 29 June, following a first negative test on 26 June.

"The PCB will now start making their travel arrangements and the departure details will be shared in due course."

Kashif Bhatti, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Imran Khan tested positive for a second time earlier this week.

The rest of Pakistan's travelling party arrived in Manchester on Sunday and underwent testing prior to a 14-day isolation period in Worcestershire.

 

 

 

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