The Latest: World Athletics suspends Olympic qualification

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(AP) — World Athletics says it has suspended Olympic qualification because of the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021.

The governing body of track says no performances between April 5 and Nov. 30 will count toward Olympic qualification even if an athlete meets the standards.

The new period will run from Dec. 1 through to either May 31 or June 29.

World Athletics made the decision because it fears competitions will resume much earlier in some parts of the world than others and that will leave some athletes with more opportunities to qualify than others.

Athletes who have already qualified will keep their places.

World Athletics also says it is placing 50% of the staff at its Monaco headquarters on furlough. They will receive full pay under a Monaco government scheme.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says the body “will focus only on business critical activities for the short term which will help us manage our cashflow effectively and protect jobs in the long term.”

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Two of the biggest meetings in the British horse racing calendar have been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak, despite previous hopes that the sport could return by the start of May.

The Jockey Club says the Guineas Festival at Newmarket on May 2-3 and the English Derby Festival at Epsom on June 5-6 will not be staged on those dates.

Organizers are looking at alternative dates for the meetings “given the importance of (them) to the careers of that generation of horses, and the racing and bloodstock industries as a whole.”

The Derby is the most prestigious flat race in Britain, while the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas take place at the Newmarket meeting in early May.

The Jockey Club said a decision needed to be made on postponing the meetings as trainers wanted to know whether to step up preparations for the races.

Racing has officially been suspended until the end of April, and the British Horseracing Authority was hoping for a resumption on May 1.

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The Italian and Catalan MotoGP races have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The motorcycling series has yet to start its season. Eight MotoGP races have now been called off because of the virus.

The Italian Grand Prix was scheduled for May 31 at the Mugello Circuit and would have been followed the next weekend by the race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Organizers say new dates for those races “cannot be confirmed until it becomes clearer when exactly it will be possible to hold the events.”

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The president of the Spanish soccer league says he is not contemplating returning to action before the end of May.

The country is expected to remain under lockdown until April 26.

Javier Tebas says other scenarios are also being studied. They include having the European competitions restarting only by the end of June and not conflicting with the domestic leagues.

Tebas says it is very likely the league will restart with games in empty stadiums and that matches in venues with reduced capacity will also eventually be an option.

The league president says it has been “impossible” to reach a deal with players on the salary reductions needed to reduce the financial impact of the crisis but he expects the majority of the clubs to reach agreements with players.

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South Korea’s professional baseball league says it hopes to start practice games between teams on April 21 before possibly opening the season in early May.

The Korea Baseball Organization says the plans are contingent on the country’s coronavirus caseload continuing to slow.

The KBO will advise players to wear face masks in locker rooms and require them to download smartphone apps to report their daily health status to league officials.

South Korea reported 47 new cases for the second consecutive day as infections continued to wane in the worst-hit city of Daegu. Those are the smallest daily jumps since Feb. 20. The country was reporting about 500 new cases per day in early March.

But there’s still concern over infections linked to passengers arriving from overseas.

The KBO announced last month that it was postponing the start of its season but that it still hoped to maintain a 144-game regular-season schedule. It then said it could ban spectators from games when infection risks were high.

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