Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has apologised for breaking coronavirus protocols by attending a get-together with a couple of his team-mates.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reported on Thursday that police were called to the house of Weston McKennie late on Wednesday to break up a party attended by up to 20 people.

Arthur is also alleged to have been in the Turin property and all three players are said to be facing large fines, and possibly a suspension, for attending the lockdown gathering.

Juventus have yet to officially comment on the reports, but Dybala took to Instagram on Thursday to confirm he was present.

"I know that in such a difficult moment for the world with COVID it would've been better not to make a mistake, but I was wrong to stay out to dinner," he said.

"It wasn't a party, but I was wrong anyway and I apologise."

Juventus announced earlier on Thursday that Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral have tested positive for COVID-19.

Leonardo Bonucci has joined Juventus team-mate Merih Demiral in testing positive for coronavirus, the Serie A giants have confirmed.

The 33-year-old returned from international duty with Italy on Thursday, a day after the Italian Football Federation announced four members of staff had also returned positive tests.

Bonucci will now begin a period of self-isolation that could keep him out of Serie A games with Torino, Napoli and Genoa over the next 10 days.

A statement on Juventus' official website on Thursday read: "Leonardo Bonucci, upon returning from the Italian national team, this morning underwent a diagnostic molecular test for COVID-19 which came back positive. 

"The player has already been placed in home isolation."

Juve confirmed earlier on Thursday that fellow defender Merih Demiral tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26 while away on international duty with Turkey.

Demiral was granted permission to return to Italy on a specially arranged flight and is isolating at the club's J Hotel.

According to reports from Italy, meanwhile, Juve intend to fine a trio of players for breaching coronavirus restrictions by attending a party.

Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kamil Piatkowski are the latest Poland players to test positive for coronavirus ahead of the World Cup qualifier against England on Wednesday.

Midfielder Mateusz Klich was the first squad member to return a positive COVID-19 test last week and it was revealed on Saturday that goalkeeper Łukasz Skorupski had also contracted the virus.

Polish Football Association spokesman Jakub Kwiatkowski confirmed midfielder Krychowiak and defender Piatkowski have now tested positive on the eve of the clash with Group I leaders England at Wembley.

Kwiatkowski tweeted: "The Polish national team has undergone further tests for the presence of coronavirus.

"Unfortunately, the results of Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kamil Piatkowski are positive. Due to the fact that Krychowiak is a recovering man, we started talks with UEFA in order to clarify the matter and admit him to the match."

Kwiatkowski said he too had tested positive for COVID-19.

Prolific Poland captain Robert Lewandowski has also been ruled out of the encounter with Gareth Southgate's side due to a knee injury.

A Germany player has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their World Cup qualifying clash with Iceland on Thursday. 

The individual - whose identity has not been revealed - did not have any symptoms and was immediately sent into isolation, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. 

Germany's bid to reach the 2022 World Cup kicks off against Iceland in Duisburg, followed by clashes with Romania and North Macedonia on Sunday and Wednesday respectively.  

A statement from the DFB read: "The strict hygiene concept of the DFB is aimed at avoiding category 1 contacts. The measures that are being implemented include the permanent wearing of FFP2 masks, except when eating at the table.  

"[Also] Staying in closed rooms in fixed, narrow time windows, keeping a distance in all functional rooms in the hotel, using two team buses and several vans for trips to the training ground, as well as close-knit testing.

"Since the meeting of the national team on Monday, two PCR and one antigen rapid tests have taken place in the team hotel." 

National team director Oliver Bierhoff added: "Of course, this news is bitter so shortly before the game – for the coach and the entire team. 

"But we are confident that this will remain the case, as we have taken all hygiene measures so far and have been very disciplined. Of course, we will implement all the requirements of the authorities."

 

The British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa is set to go ahead as planned later this year after proposals to stage matches elsewhere were rejected.

Due to continued complications surrounding the coronavirus crisis, questions were raised over whether the Lions would be able to travel to South Africa for the eight-match trip.

But rather than host matches in the UK and Ireland, or take up Australia's offer to play games Down Under, it has been decided to press ahead with the original itinerary

The Lions and SA Rugby released a joint statement on Tuesday to confirm an agreement is in place over the staging of the tour, which begins on July 3 and continues into early August.

"After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the board's intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021," said Lions chairman Jason Leonard.

"We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust Covid-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan."

However, the original plan for the Lions to play five warm-up matches against provincial teams, an invitational side and second-string South Africa A before the three-Test series with the Springboks could still change.

"We appreciate the Lions' faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said SA Rugby president Mark Alexander in the same statement. 

"We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

"There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. 

"But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners."

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney acknowledged the preferred contingency plan of staging the tour in the UK had become increasingly unviable.

"It was always the preferred option to go to South Africa," he said. "We had to develop a whole range of different scenarios given the potential outcomes and one of those was a UK series.

"It's quite controversial as it's not the spirit of the Lions, but as fall-back option, we thought it was a strong one. If they can't host it, the agreement's off and we've probably run out of time to host it in the UK, so you play in 2025."

Lions coach Warren Gatland is due to announce a squad for the tour at the start of May, with the first warm-up match to be played on home soil on Murrayfield against Japan on June 26.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have announced spectators will not be allowed to travel from overseas to watch the Olympic Games this year.

The measure has been taken as part of an effort to reduce the risks of COVID-19 spreading at the delayed Games.

The Games will run from July 23 to August 8, having been set back by a year due to the global health crisis.

Also affected will be the Paralympics, which runs from August 24 to September 5, with travelling spectators also barred from attending.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have been advised of Tokyo's decision and are said by Games chiefs to "respect and accept this conclusion".

In a statement issued on Twitter, Tokyo 2020 said: "Today, on March 20, we reported to the IOC and IPC that we would not accept overseas spectators to Japan in order to realise a safe and secure event.

"We will continue to do our utmost to make this summer's event a safe and secure event so that it will be a light of hope for people all over the world."

In a further statement, Tokyo 2020 organisers said tickets purchased by those planning to travel from abroad would be refunded.

They said the coronavirus situation within and beyond Japan "remains very challenging" and pointed to travel across borders being "severely restricted", meaning entry to Japan could not be guaranteed.

"In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," said the Tokyo 2020 statement.

"This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."

France will face Scotland in a potentially decisive delayed Six Nations fixture on March 26.

The match was postponed from February 28 following a coronavirus outbreak in the French squad.

But it has found a new date in Paris next Friday, outside of the international window, tournament organisers confirmed.

It is reported the Premiership will allow key Scotland players to feature in the match, with France's Top 14 potentially following suit.

The game could yet decide the destination of this year's Six Nations title.

France are third heading into the final scheduled weekend of the competition and they host unbeaten leaders Wales this Saturday.

Victory for Wales would seal a Grand Slam triumph, but a France win could give them the opportunity to snatch glory against Scotland six days later.

Kamara Usman will defend his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal in front of a full crowd at UFC 261 on April 24.

Not since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 has a UFC card gone ahead without a cap on crowd numbers, but that will change in Jacksonville, Florida next month.

Usman's rematch with Masvidal headlines a stacked line-up at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, where 15,000 fans are set to attend for two other title fights, including women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko's bout with Jessica Andrade and the women's strawweight battle between champion Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas.

VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena previously hosted the first three UFC shows following a two-month hiatus in May due to COVID-19, though they went ahead without fans behind closed doors.

"I have been waiting a year for this day to tell you: We are back," UFC president Dana White said in the video via Twitter on Monday.

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry tweeted: "@danawhite, @GovRonDeSantis, and I will continue to demonstrate that Florida is poised to safely host signature sporting events watched globally. Welcome back to Jacksonville @ufc. Let's go @danawhite."

Usman (18-1), who defeated Gilbert Burns via a third-round TKO last month, has made history in the UFC.

The Nigerian-born fighter has won 13 consecutive fights – the most in UFC welterweight history.

Usman defeated Masvidal (35-14) by unanimous decision at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi last July, though the latter was a late replacement after Burns had tested positive for coronavirus.

Eddie Jones was left wishing Twickenham had been packed full of fans to see England's gutsy Six Nations win over France.

The hosts ended France's dreams of a first Grand Slam since 2010 as Maro Itoje's late try secured a hard-earned 23-20 victory on Saturday.

It was a fine response from the Red Rose after disappointing losses to Scotland and Wales either side of a routine win over Italy.

But head coach Jones wanted to share in the glory with England's supporters, with coronavirus restrictions depriving them of the opportunity to witness a fine performance first-hand.

"I just wish there were 82,000 fans here," Jones told ITV, having seen his side fight back from Antoine Dupont's try after just 65 seconds.

"It was a good, tough game of rugby with good fight from both teams and a bit of drama at the end.

"Since the Scotland game we have played with a lot of fight and energy.

"We thought France would come out hard early. They haven't had a game for a while and they were fresh. We had to be with them at half-time - that was our big job.

"We thought we would get them in the second half and we did.

"We've felt since the autumn we have to change our game a bit because the laws are moving to make the game faster.

"Our plan is to go to the 2023 World Cup as a good set-piece team and a team that can move."

England conclude their 2021 Six Nations campaign in Dublin next weekend.

Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have both been ruled out of Thursday's game against the Chicago Bulls due to coronavirus contact tracing.

Embiid and Simmons did not play in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta, the duo late withdrawals after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The pair will now miss the first game back following the All-Star break, though Simmons will also sit out Friday's clash with the Washington Wizards.

MVP candidate Embiid is eligible to return for Eastern Conference leaders the 76ers against the Wizards, while Simmons will be able to make his way back to the court at home to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Embiid has been averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the 76ers this season.

76ers team-mate Simmons, meanwhile, is averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

The 76ers (24-12) are half a game clear of the star-studded Brooklyn Nets (24-13) atop the east.

Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will not play in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The NBA confirmed the duo had been exposed to the individual in Philadelphia prior to travelling to the event in Atlanta.

It will keep the Sixers pair out of the annual game, although it will have no impact on the rest of the players, a statement said.

ESPN reported Zion Williamson would take Embiid's place in the starting five for Team Durant. Simmons had been set to appear from the bench for Team LeBron.

The Sixers are 24-12 this season at the top of the East, led by Embiid, who is in the running for the MVP award.

The fifth-year center is averaging 30.2 points and 11.6 rebounds in 2020-21.

World Rugby has declared this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand should be postponed to 2022, dealing a major blow to the women's game.

Citing "uncertain and challenging" conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, World Rugby said it would not be possible to suitably stage an event of such scale.

Its recommendation will be put to the Rugby World Cup board and World Rugby's executive committee on March 8 and 9 but seems certain to be passed.

In a statement, the governing body said: "World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand from September 18 to October 16, until next year.

"While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family."

It is clear World Rugby has made the recommendation to stave off the possibility of the tournament going ahead in difficult, sterile conditions.

New Zealand as a nation has achieved low instances of COVID-19, in a large part because of strict border controls.

World Rugby said: "It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.

"The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions."

Ireland hosted the last Rugby World Cup for women in 2017, with New Zealand beating England in the final, giving the Black Ferns a fifth victory in the last six editions of the tournament.

Lazio turned up for a Serie A clash with Torino on Tuesday, but their opponents stayed away in a move that looks set to trigger a fresh dispute over how Italian football is handling the coronavirus crisis.

The Stadio Olimpico fixture had an early evening kick-off, scheduled for 18:30 local time, and home side Lazio duly arrived, with coach Simone Inzaghi announcing a team for the game.

That was already in the knowledge, however, that Torino would not be present to provide the opposition, having stayed in Turin on the advice of their local health authority after a COVID-19 outbreak.

Torino's home match against Sassuolo, due to take place last Friday, was postponed because of those cases becoming apparent.

However, Lega Serie A decided the Lazio game should go ahead, despite Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina declaring it was an "objective impossibility" to get the match on.

Gravina, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, said he understood Torino's situation to be "a full-blown force majeure" and not a spur-of-the-moment decision not to travel to Rome for the game. League chiefs, however, were not as obviously sympathetic.

A string of training sessions were postponed by Torino last week. At around the time Lazio published their team sheet for Tuesday's game, Torino posted a training update, saying players had been working individually because of the restrictions imposed by local authorities.

The Corriere dello Sport newspaper said referee Marco Piccinini declared the game abandoned at 19:15 in Rome, adding that two Lazio players were called for routine doping tests despite the fixture not being played.

It remains to be seen what steps Lega Serie A takes next, but there has been a precedent of sorts this season, when Napoli were barred from travelling to Turin to face Juventus in October.

League chiefs had turned down a request to call off the game and awarded a 3-0 victory to Juventus, also docking Napoli one point. However, the Naples side appealed to the Italian Olympic Committee's Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport - the highest sporting court in the land - and overturned the Lega Serie A decision. That game will be replayed, with March 17 reportedly a possible date.

Lazio sporting director Igli Tare told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Tuesday's intended kick-off time: "I could say many things, but I keep them to myself.

"We respected the rules and we came to the stadium. Now we will wait 45 minutes, then we will leave everything in the hands of the competent bodies.

"Would I have preferred to play? Absolutely yes."

Tare said it was not important whether he understood Torino's point of view.

"I just have to respect the rules of the Lega," he said. "We know how things stand. We are here and this is the only thing that matters."

New Zealand's Auckland-based players, including Martin Guptill, have returned negative coronavirus tests and can continue preparation for the remainder of the Twenty20I series against Australia.

The Black Caps lead 2-0 in the five-game series, with Guptill collecting player of the match honours in the second four-run victory last week.

But Auckland has entered a seven-day lockdown after a COVID-19 case was detected.

That development has prompted the fourth game, set for Auckland on March 5, to be moved to Wellington, where the upcoming third match will also be played.

But the New Zealand players based in the city will still be available to feature.

Guptill, James Neesham, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman had been self-isolating due to the new measures, but they have each tested negative and will join training again on Tuesday.

Usain Bolt's one-time great rival Yohan Blake has declared he will refuse all COVID-19 vaccines, and would rather miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics than be immunised.

The Jamaican sprinter won silver in the 100 metres and 200m at London 2012, as Bolt landed gold in both races. Only Bolt has ever run faster than Blake over those distances.

Speaking on Saturday, Blake expressed his opposition to being given a vaccine.

The International Olympic Committee has indicated athletes will not need to be vaccinated before taking part in the Tokyo Games, but vice-president John Coates recently said it was "certainly being encouraged".

The Olympics, postponed from last year due to the coronavirus crisis, is due to run from July 23 to August 8.

Quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, Blake said: "My mind still stays strong, I don't want any vaccine, I'd rather miss the Olympics than take the vaccine, I am not taking it.

"I don't really want to get into it now, but I have my reasons."

Blake, who won 100m gold at the 2011 World Championships, is now 31 and Tokyo may be his last chance to shine on the Olympic stage.

He said in a video posted late on Saturday night: "Love me or dislike me, but I am here for a reason, to serve God, and at the same time be a servant for God to help each and every one.

"I am a righteous man, I am a man of God, and I believe that everybody do have a choice in life, no matter what. And I want to tell someone, don't let anyone take away that choice from you.

"At the end of the day if anything should happen, nobody's going to be by your side apart from God. No one is going to be there to hold your hand, it's going to be you.

"Follow your mind, don't follow the crowd. At the same time, be respectful to each and every one. Don't let no one take away your choice."

Jamaica has had 422 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, and 23,263 cases, the country's government announced on Saturday.

The country has yet to receive first shipments of a vaccine, but health minister Dr Christopher Tufton said on Friday they would "soon" arrive.

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