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Coronavirus: Here’s what’s happening in the sports world on Thursday

The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:

  • NFL hits a roadblock
  • Fans will be permitted at Kentucky Derby
  • Buddy Hield reportedly among Kings players to test positive for virus
  • Russian soccer league faces setback with new cases

NFL Hall of Fame game scrapped from schedule

The NFL has cancelled the Hall of Fame game that traditionally opens the preseason and is delaying the 2020 induction ceremonies because of the coronavirus pandemic, two people with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced, though an announcement is expected later Thursday. ESPN first reported the Hall of Fame game cancellation.

The Aug. 6 exhibition game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers is the first on-field event the league has cancelled during the pandemic. The league was able to conduct free agency, the draft and several owners meetings remotely, and it recently began reopening team facilities that were shut in late March, albeit on a limited basis.

Ten men were scheduled to be enshrined in the Canton, Ohio, hall on Aug. 8; the hall has an increased class of 20 this year in commemoration of the NFL’s centennial. No date has been set for when any inductions will occur, the people said.

Kentucky Derby will run with limitations on spectators

Churchill Downs says the rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Oaks will run this fall with spectators under strict guidelines to limit crowd density for the race that annually attracts more than 100,000.

The 146th runnings of the Oaks for fillies and the Derby were postponed from May 1-2 to Sept. 4-5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It marked the first time since 1945 that horse racing’s marquee event was not run on the first Saturday in May. Churchill Downs has run its delayed spring meet without spectators, but track officials had expressed a desire for the Derby to go off with spectators.

After consulting with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and local health officials, Churchill Downs will reduce capacity in general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. Fans will be “consistently and frequently” encouraged to wear masks at all times unless seated, to practice social distancing when possible and to wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Hield reportedly among multiple Kings with COVID-19

Sacramento Kings forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len announced Wednesday that they recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and The Athletic reported that Kings guard Buddy Hield also has COVID-19.

The news comes a day after the NBA began Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan, during which time players are required to be tested for the coronavirus.

CBS Sacramento’s Sara Hodges reported that at least four Kings tested positive for COVID-19.

Hield, the Kings’ second-leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, played in 82 games last season and didn’t miss a game this season prior to the league’s shutdown due to the virus. He is one of Sacramento’s key players, having averaged 20.3 points and 41.1 percent 3-point shooting since the start of last season. He also won the NBA’s 3-point contest during All-Star weekend back in February.

Neither the team nor Hield confirmed the report.

Russian soccer faces setback after resuming play last week

Russian top-flight team Orenburg said on Thursday six of its players and two team staff had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, in a fresh setback for the Russian Premier League that resumed play last week.

Orenburg, who face Krasnodar on Saturday, did not say which of their players had caught the virus, but that the whole squad had tested negative ahead of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Russian top flight has got off to a faltering start since it resumed matches after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to stop play.

Rostov were routed 10-1 on Friday by relegation-threatened Sochi after they were forced to field youth players because their whole first-team squad was in quarantine.

Another game between Dinamo Moscow and Krasnodar planned for last Sunday was pushed back to next month because the former club’s players had fallen ill.

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