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With many countries and state and local governments banning large gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus, sports have been shut down across the world since mid-March.
But sports are starting to return in ways big and small with news breaking on Thursday that the NBA's board of governors approved a plan to return to action on July 31 in Orlando with 22 teams playing eight final regular season games before a full playoff schedule. The Timberwolves season is over.
Also this week, Major League Soccer approved a plan to have a World Cup style tournament in July.
Meanwhile German soccer and NASCAR have returned and the PGA is set to have its first tournament next weekend.
The NFL and NHL have joined Major League Baseball in beginning to negotiate with their players over what a return to play might look like. But MLB has had limited success during ongoing negotiations.
The governors of Arizona and Florida said that their states are open for pro sports. And the governors of California, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania indicated professional sports could return to their states possibly as soon as June. The US government also eased travel restrictions for professional athletes who are abroad.
Locally, Minnesota's stay-at-home order expired and some restrictions on outdoor sports were lifted.
The Star Tribune asked its reporters who cover the NBA, NHL, MLS, WNBA and Major League Baseball to explain how resuming the seasons in their sports could happen.
Here is the latest on sports cancellations and postponements and when the games may begin again:
Spring training was suspended on March 12, and Opening Day, scheduled for March 26, was postponed indefinitely.
MLB owners approved a proposal they sent to the player's association for a regular season that would consist of 82 games and expanded playoffs. The proposal would have players reporting to training camp in June and games starting in July.
Players responded with a proposal for a 114-game regular season that would feature no pay cuts to player salary. In the players' proposal, the World Series would extend past Thanksgiving.
MLB owners rejected that proposal and said they would not offer a counter proposal. But while the situation seems dire for a return to play, Twins President Dave St. Peter is optimistic.
In an interview with CNN, Commissioner Rob Manfred explained the league's testing and quarantine plans. Players and staff would be tested multiple times per week, with a 24-hour turnaround for results, and daily temperature checks and symptom analysis. If a player tested positive, Manfred said, that person would be removed from the team until he had two negative tests over a 24-hour period. MLB is monitoring baseball leagues in South Korea and Taiwan, which have already returned to action.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that the club is starting to "ramp up" in preparation for a second spring training.
The amateur draft, which will be held this month, will be cut from 40 rounds to five. The Twins are not happy.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame canceled the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 -- which featured Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker -- and will instead have their inductions at the 2021 Hall of Fame Weekend.
The St. Paul Saints announced that the American Association postponed the start of its season, which was scheduled to begin on May 19. Preliminary plans are to start play in early July, according to Commissioner Joshua Schaub.
The Saints gave a detailed look at what baseball could look like this summer at CHS Field in St. Paul, including seating arrangements for fans to maintain social distancing.
The summer collegiate baseball league announced that its season, which was set to begin on May 26, has been delayed indefinitely.
Little League World Series
The tournament was canceled by Little League International for the first time.
The state's American Legion was canceled for the first time since 1926. Minnesota had 357 teams signed up, the largest number in the nation.
Team facilities have been closed since March 26 and the league is shifting to a "virtual offseason," including online rookie camps. Vikings players and staff are already adjusting to a new offseason workout routine.
The full 2020 schedule was announced May 7 and, if games starts on time, the Vikings would open the season with the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 13. The five games scheduled for Mexico and England will now be played in the United States.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that teams could reopening their facilities as long as they meet certain criteria. Only 50 percent of the staff, up to 75 people, can be on site at the same time, and no coaches or players will be allowed unless they need medical treatment. The league announced that coaching staffs can return to team facilities this week.
The Vikings will continue to work remotely, for the time being.
The season was suspended on March 11, with five weeks left in the regular season and most teams having played about 65 of their 82 games.
On Thursday the league became the first major professional sports league to approve a return-to-play plan. The NBA board of governors approved a plan to bring 22 teams to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex outside Orlando, Fla. to finish a truncated regular season, with each team playing eight games, and a full playoff schedule between July 31-October 12.
The Timberwolves will not be one of those 22 teams and their season is over after a 19-45 campaign.
The NBA recently announced that players can voluntarily return to their team practice facilities in areas where local and state governments allow it.
The Timberwolves opened their practice facility in downtown Minneapolis for individual workouts, but there are a lot of safety measures that players and coaches will have to follow. Players have to wear a mask at all times, except when they are on the court. Coaches and staff have to wear a mask and gloves at all times.
NHL: The season was suspended March 12 with teams having between 11 and 14 games remaining in the regular season.
The NHL officially closed the books on the regular season and announced that the players' association and the owners had agreed to a plan that will bring 24 of the 31 teams back to play in a postseason tournament.
The league and players still need to hammer out health and safety protocols and determine where and when the games would be played.
The 24-team field would include games at hub locations, likely without fans in attendance. The top four teams in the Eastern and Western conferences would receive byes but play a round-robin series that could impact first-round seeding.
The remaining eight teams per conference would square off in best-of-five play-in series to cut the field to 16 teams. Under the plan, the Wild would be the No. 10 seed in the West and face No. 7 Vancouver in a best-of-five series.
The league facilities remain closed, and many players returned to their home countries. The NHL released protocols for team facilities to reopen, which could happen in early June.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league was looking at eight or nine cities to be hubs and would choose two or four. St. Paul is interested in being one of those hubs.
AHL: The American Hockey League, which includes the Iowa Wild among its 31 teams, has canceled the rest of its season and the Calder Cup playoffs.
NWHL: The championship game between the Whitecaps and the Boston Pride on March 13 was postponed the day before. It was officially canceled last Friday. The league held its draft last month, and even announced it was adding an expansion team in Toronto.
Final roster cuts were made even though teams have been unable to workout their players. The Lynx waived guards Linnae Harper and Erica Ogwumike and forward Jessica Shepard is off the roster as she rehabs a torn ACL.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league is considering playing at one site, or a few, instead of at every home arena. She added that it was unlikely the WNBA would be at the same site as the NBA.
The NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships, and universities stopped spring sports activities, including spring football practices and games.
The NCAA voted to allow football and men's and women's basketball teams to return to campus for voluntary workouts on June 1. The Gophers, though, may lag behind that start date.
The FBS football season is scheduled to start Aug. 29, with the Gophers' opener on Sept. 3.
The other big question facing athletic departments, including the Gophers, is whether this will mean cutting sports.
MINNESOTA HIGH SCHOOLS
The Minnesota State High School League announced that there will be no spring sports practice or competition this year. The winter sports season ended on March 13, five days before tip-off of the boys' basketball state tournament and the day before the girls' basketball state finals.
MLS: Regular season matches, which began Feb. 29, are currently suspended until June 8.
MLS has approved a return to play in July with all 26 teams based in the Orlando area and playing a World Cup-style tournament without spectators. There are still plans to return to regular season play after the tournament.
The league announced that they were allowing teams to advance from individual workouts to small group workouts of no more than six players, as long as local government policies permit it. Minnesota United players have been doing voluntary individual sessions at their Blaine training facility.
NWSL: The top domestic women's league delayed the start of its season, scheduled for April 18.
This week they announced their return with the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup which will take place between June 27-July 26 at Zions Bank Stadium in Utah. Fans will not be allowed in attendance.
The tournament will feature 25 games and will be televised on CBS and CBS All Access.
International: Germany's Bundesliga became the first major European soccer league to return to action. The league's teams had nine games remaining when the season was suspended. Fans will not be in attendance; coaches and bench players will wear masks. The clubs will be allowed to substitute five players per game, instead of the usual three.
The Premier League announced that it will return on June 17 with 92 games remaining on the schedule. Plans are to complete all league matches by August 1. Coronavirus testing will be increased to 60 tests per club with anyone testing positive being asked to self-isolate for seven days.
Serie A in Italy announced that they reached an agreement with the government that will resume play on June 20 and that the testing of their clubs will not interfere with the ability to test other Italian citizens.
Spain's La Liga will restart on June 11 and plan to finish on July 19 with 11 rounds of fixtures to finish the season.
All the major European leagues stopped playing after some briefly held games without fans. The Champions League was halted at the round-of-16 stage. The European Championships and Copa America, the premier events of the summer, were rescheduled from June 2020 to June 2021.
France, Belgium and the Netherlands all canceled the remainders of their seasons.
The Summer Olympics in Tokyo, scheduled for July 24-Aug 9, were postponed and will instead begin July 23, 2021. The Olympics have previously been canceled because of wars, but they had never been postponed.
Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the Tokyo organizing committee, said the 2021 Games may not be "conventional," with potential cuts everywhere. “We are looking into every possible area,” he said. “It’s time for all of us to review what are the essential things for the games. What are the must-have items?"
Minnesota Olympians have had to come up with creative solutions for how to train while stay-at-home orders were in place.
USA Gymnastics has canceled all of its top-tier events for the rest of this year. The organization is scrapping the U.S. Classic and the national championships, after initially hoping to reschedule the events.
PGA Tour: The PGA Tour stopped play after the first round of the Players Championship on March 12. The tour plans to resume at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, from June 11-14 while keeping fans away for at least the first month of play. The tour unveiled its safety measures, including regular temperature checks and coronavirus testing, and no post-round handshakes.
The revised PGA Tour schedule still features the 3M Championship being held in Blaine from July 23-26. But this week the tour canceled the John Deere Open, which was to be held from July 9-12 in Illinois.
3M Championship executive director Hollis Cavner said he expects the tournament to go on, with or without fans.
Here are the plans for the season's major golf events:
- The PGA Championship, originally May 14-17, will be Aug. 6-9 in San Francisco.
- The US Open, scheduled for June 18-21 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., just outside New York City, is now Sept. 17-20.
- The British Open, scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England, was canceled.
- The Masters moved from April to Nov. 12-15.
- To accommodate the new date for the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour shifted the FedEx playoff events back one week. The final tournament, the Tour Championship, will end on Labor Day, Sept. 7.
- The Ryder Cup remains on track for Sept. 25-27 at at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
LPGA: The top women’s pro tour hasn’t held a tournament since mid-February. The LPGA had hoped to restart July 15-18 at a team event in Michigan, but that tournament was canceled. The next event on the schedule is July 23-26 in Sylvania, Ohio, outside of Toledo.
All five majors have been rescheduled. The Evian Championship, usually the last major of the season, will now be first, Aug. 6-9 in France. The U.S. Women's Open will be last, running from Dec 10-13 in Houston.
Minnesota courses: Golf courses around the state were allowed to open in mid-April. Special no-touch and social-distancing rules apply, and courses are adjusting to the new normal.
No top-level pro tennis events are scheduled through the end of July. The next tournament on the calendar is the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., beginning Aug.1. The French Open was rescheduled from May 24-June 6 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4. Wimbledon, which was to begin June 29, was canceled for the first time since World War II.
The U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam event on the year, remains on the calendar for Aug. 31-Sept 13. A decision on the tournament -- played in Queens, which has been devastated by the virus -- is expected this month and all options are on the table.
But many around the sport are starting to look towards the 2021 season.
"I'm more concerned with the Australian Open than what happens later this year," Rafael Nadal told El Pais. "2020, I see it as practically lost."
Even that tournament, which begins in January, is a question mark. Craig Tiley, the Australian Open chief executive, said recently that the "best-case scenario" was having the tournament "with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans."
Some exhibition events featuring pro players have started to pop up in the US and Europe. Novak Djokovic organized a series of tournaments in the Balkan region from June 13 to July 5.
Many tracks around the country closed, and those that are open are holding races with no spectators. The Kentucky Derby was postponed from its traditional date on the first Saturday in May until Sept. 5. The Preakness Stakes, scheduled for May 16, will be Oct. 3. Belmont Park has returned to live racing.
The Belmont Stakes, scheduled for June 6, has been moved to June 20. It is now the first leg of the Triple Crown instead of the last. The race was also shortened to a mile and an eighth rather than its traditional mile and a half.
Live racing at Canterbury Park in Shakopee was to begin May 15. Gov. Walz announced that both Canterbury and Running Aces harness track in Columbus will be allowed to race without spectators.
Canterbury will run a revised 52-day schedule that will start June 10. Barns and the training track have reopened. Running Aces harness track in Columbus opened its stable area and will resume racing on June 20 with a 50-day schedule.
A legislative bill to allow in-state online and phone betting for Minnesota horse racing fans was pulled before a vote, due to opposition.
NASCAR: NASCAR was the first major sports organization in North America to return to action. Seven more Cup Series races have been added through June 21.
IndyCar: The series canceled or postponed its races until June 6, bumping its traditional month of May events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to later in the summer. The Indianapolis 500 will not be held on Memorial Day weekend and instead will be Aug. 23. It will be the first time in the race’s history it will not be in the month of May.
Formula One: The first 10 races of the season were postponed or canceled, including the Monaco Grand Prix in May. But Formula One is targeting a return to racing on July 5 in Austria with races throughout Europe in July and August and the rest of the world from September to December for a total of between 15-18 races. The early races would be without fans in attendance.
NHRA: The drag racing series is paused until June 19. The NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, set for Aug. 13-16, are on schedule -- for now.
The International Cycling Union announced a revised schedule, and now the three biggest races in cycling -- the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana -- are scheduled to take place over a 72-day span between August and November. The stretch starts with the Tour de France on Aug. 29 in Nice.
"If we manage to have all these races as planned, we will be very happy," UCI president David Lappartient said in conference call. "This is the ambition we have."
The major races on the women's circuit have also been maintained, and the UCI announced the debut of a female Paris-Roubaix on Oct. 25 -- the same day as the men's event.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
UFC 249 took place in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 9, and the organization hosted two more events there last week. UFC had to pull Jacare Souza from the May 9 lineup the day before after he and two of his cornermen tested positive for the coronavirus.
UFC 250 will take place on Saturday in Las Vegas with increased virus testing in place. The main event will feature Amanda Nunes (19-4-0) vs. Felicia Spencer (8-1-0).
Organizers announced on Thursday that the Boston Marathon, which had been postponed from April 20 to September 14, is canceled. It is the first time in the 124-year history of the event that it has been canceled. Qualifying times for this year's race will be eligible for 2021.
The newly formed football league canceled its inaugural season because of the virus outbreak and later laid off most of its staff and filed for bankruptcy. It is not expected to be back next season.