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UFC finally postpones next 3 scheduled events amid pandemic

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UFC finally postpones next 3 scheduled events amid pandemic

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The UFC has postponed its next three scheduled events through April 11, finally giving up on President Dana White's plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UFC will not hold its show scheduled for Saturday, which was initially slated to be held in a full arena in London. The UFC also won't hold shows scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

"It's just impossible," White said on ESPN, the UFC's broadcast partner. "We can't do it."

White insists he will hold UFC 249 on April 18, although he doesn't have a venue for it. Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson in the promotion's biggest pay-per-view show of the spring.

"We're hoping that this all clears up by April," White said. "This fight is going to happen. No crowd, whatever it takes. Probably not even in the United States, but this fight will happen."

The UFC finally joined nearly every other major worldwide sports organization in postponing its events only after White on Monday heard about the White House's recommendation to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

White had vowed for the past week to keep staging fights while the public health crisis worsened, and the UFC held a 12-fight card in Brasilia, Brazil, last Saturday in an empty arena. White said it would take "a total shutdown of the country" to prevent him from staging fights while the NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR and the NCAA all postponed or canceled events.

The UFC's plans to hold this week's show in London became unfeasible due to travel restrictions, but White found another home for the show: He said he has a deal in place to hold Saturday's event at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, at the Grand Casino Resort Hotel, which is owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

The UFC only decided not to do it after the White House's recommendations.

"We have the card, we have the fighters, we have everything," White said. "We've complied with everything that the government and these doctors said to do."

The UFC's plan to hold the shows on March 28 and April 11 in an empty arena in Las Vegas also were scrapped because of the Nevada State Athletic Commission's decision to prohibit combat sports shows until at least March 25. White attempted to find new homes for those shows before bowing to public health concerns.

NASCAR suspends season until May but will reschedule events

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NASCAR suspends season until May but will reschedule events

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- NASCAR has suspended its season until May as part of the CDC’s recommendation to postpone gatherings for the next eight weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic

The decision came after at least two Monday conference calls between the sanctioning body and its team owners. It affects seven total races -- Atlanta and Homestead had already been postponed.

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority," NASCAR said.

The series plans to return to the track at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on May 9.

“We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts,” NASCAR said. "What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”

NASCAR first said it would run last weekend and this coming weekend without spectators, but reversed course Friday and postponed the races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

NASCAR had not addressed anything beyond Homestead until Monday’s announcement.

IndyCar and Formula One both canceled last weekend’s season-opening races, IndyCar has suspended the season through the end of April and F1 said upcoming races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China are postponed.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus within a few weeks.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway early Monday issued a statement acknowledging the CDC guideline against gatherings, is planning for all contingencies, but also is prepared to run its events in May. The Indy 500, scheduled for May 24, typically draws more than 300,000 fans.

The speedway -- and now the season -- are scheduled to open the first week of May. Roger Penske, the new owner of IndyCar and the speedway, hopes to open the speedway a few days before the May 9 race on the road course to build in test days. Penske wants teams as prepared as possible for the Indianapolis 500.

“Our priority is to do our part in protecting the public health while still conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500,” the speedway said. “This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials. We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”

IndyCar’s 17-race schedule has been hit hard by the coronavirus because street races in St. Petersburg, Florida and Long Beach, California, have been canceled outright. Two road course events in Birmingham, Alabama, and Austin, Texas, could be rescheduled.

Nearly every racing series in the world has ceased competition since coronavirus became a global pandemic. IMSA moved the 12 Hours of Sebring scheduled for this weekend until November's season finale.

Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans said Monday a decision will be made in mid-April about its June race.

Supercross ran its first 10 races but the 2020 season has been postponed until further notice. The series has canceled five races -- at Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Denver and Foxboro. No makeup dates were announced for the April 25 event at Las Vegas and the May 2 race at Salt Lake City.

NHRA postponed the 51st annual Gatornationals last weekend. The next scheduled event was April 3-5 at Las Vegas but the sanctioning body Monday suspended the season 30 days. NHRA said it intends to resume events April 17-19 in Houston.

"We made this decision with heavy hearts as we see the effects this pandemic is having on the world," NHRA said in a statement. “We are all in this complicated uncertain and rapidly changing situation together, and we encourage everyone to look out for each other.”

World of Outlaws postponed all races through April 9 so far, while Formula E has suspended the next two months of its 2020-21 season.

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NFL players approve labor deal, including 17-game season

NFL players approve labor deal, including 17-game season

NFL players have approved a new labor agreement with the league that features a 17-game regular season, higher salaries, increased roster sizes and larger pensions for current and former players.

The deal, which runs through the 2030 season, was accepted by the 32 team owners last month. The NFL Players Association's membership spent the last week voting on the 439-page document after its executive board narrowly rejected it by a 6-5 vote, and the player representatives voted 17-14 in favor, with one abstention.

Clearly, there was some strong player opposition to this collective bargaining agreement, though. Many stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt and Todd Gurley, spoke out against it. The total vote among the nearly 2,500 union members who participated was 1019-959.

Ratification required a simple majority.

The 2020 NFL business season begins March 18 with free agency and trades. A 17-game schedule won't happen before the 2021 season. The mechanics for an uneven number of games -- neutral sites or which teams get nine home games -- will be worked out in the interim.

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Extending the season was a nonissue with the players in 2011, when the current 10-year deal was finalized after a 4 1/2 month lockout. But the gains they make in the new agreement in sharing "a bigger portion of the growing pie," according to outgoing NFLPA President Eric Winston, swayed the vote this time.

Among those gains:

-- An increase from the 47% of league revenues given to the players, with that percentage dependent on the length of the season.

-- A reduction of the preseason, initially from four games to three. More time off during training camps.

-- Upgraded pensions, with the addition of groups of previous players not included in past agreements.

-- Two more roster spots per team, from 53 to 55; that's 64 more jobs.

-- Larger practice squads with fewer limitations on movement of those players.

-- Narrowing the testing period for players for marijuana use, plus lowered discipline for using it; and a reduction in on-field fines.

Adding two playoff teams was not part of the bargaining process; the owners can do so without union approval. That is expected to occur this season, with only the top team in each conference getting a wild-card bye.

With labor peace for the rest of the decade, the NFL now will turn to negotiating new deals with its broadcast partners. Results of that, including digital media, should, as Winston mentioned, substantially grow the financial pie.

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