Around the World of Sports: Mental Health Experts Helping Athletes
Mental health experts who were supposed to be available to help American athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are being asked to start working now.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says the experts are leading discussions about mental health and wellness for athletes and staff in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those same experts will also be on hand at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed a year.
The USOPC also disclosed the 13 members of a new external mental health task force created to support American athletes and coaches. It includes Olympians, doctors and the head of The Speedy Foundation, a mental-health organization named after the late Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, an Olympic silver medalist in aerials.
That group is working with an internal group at the USOC being led by chief medical officer Jonathan Finnoff. ___
The world heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev on June 20 has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The fight was scheduled to take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London and will be Joshua’s first defense of his IBF, WBA, WBO belts since he regained them from Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua’s promoter, Matchroom Boxing, says a new date for the fight is being worked on.
More than a dozen U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes received reassurance this week when Toyota North America announced it would extend their endorsement contracts through the rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021.
The auto company and major Olympic sponsor has 17 U.S. athletes under contract. They include swimmer David Boudia, gymnast Laurie Hernandez, Paralympian Oksana Masters and sprinter Michael Norman.
The status of endorsement contracts is a major concern to athletes because most signed deals that were set to expire after this year’s scheduled Olympics. They have been rescheduled for 2021 and that has forced corporations to reset and rethink the structure of their deals.
Visa is another major sponsor and has also told its global roster of nearly 100 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls that it will extend sponsorships through 2021.
World Triathlon has extended its suspension of all events from the end of April to the end of June because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The latest events to be called off include the Yokohama leg of the world series, three African Cups, three American events, four Asian Cups, one event in Oceania and eight in Europe.
World Triathlon president Marisol Casado says “the suspension of all activities doesn’t mean at all that we stop working" on finding alternative dates.
The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The league was set to open training camps on April 26 and the regular season was to begin on May 15. The WNBA will still hold a “virtual” draft on April 17.
Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.”
The WNBA, which was set to begin its 24th season, is the longest running professional women’s sports league.
The Premier League has pushed back its restart date and says play will not resume at the beginning of May.
The league had given a return date of April 30 amid the coronavirus outbreak but now says the season “will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”
It says there remained a “combined objective” for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played to maintain the integrity of each competition.
The league also says it has consulted players over a pay deduction or deferral of 30%.
It also voted to advance funds of 125 million pounds ($150 million) to clubs in the English Football League and fifth-tier National League.
German soccer club Borussia Dortmund is converting part of its stadium into a treatment center amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bundesliga club says a space inside Germany’s largest soccer stadium has been made available for medical staff to examine people with virus symptoms.
The move comes after an influx of suspected coronavirus cases put existing facilities in the city of Dortmund under strain.
The center will open on Saturday.
The Tour de Suisse has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, removing one of the few cycling events left on the calendar before the Tour de France is due to start.
The nine-day Swiss race was scheduled to run from June 6-14 and is designed to give riders a chance to prepare for the three-week Tour de France. The French race is still scheduled to start on June 27.
Colombian rider Egan Bernal won in Switzerland last year ahead of his first Tour de France title.
Organizers in Switzerland say its “the first time since the Second World War that the traditional event will not take place.”
They say “the risk of additional strain on the Swiss health system due to possible crashes during racing is high.”
The Russian anti-doping agency is preparing to freeze all testing until May to comply with new government measures shutting down work deemed non-essential.
RUSADA deputy CEO Margarita Pakhnotskaya tells The Associated Press that her agency is looking for possible exemptions to instructions from President Vladimir Putin for all Russians except those working in essential sectors to stay home through April 30.
Pakhnotskaya says in a text message that she “will check on Monday the possibility to receive special permission” from government bodies for staff to collect samples from athletes. There will be no testing this month if that isn’t granted.
Testing has been suspended since March 27 under a previous round of measures.
Isolation measures around the world have led to a sharp drop in anti-doping tests. That’s led to warnings that some athletes could take advantage of the situation. The World Anti-Doping Agency says it is trying to track gaps in testing.
Former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang was among 20 people arrested in Kenya for locking themselves in a bar and drinking alcohol in breach of a curfew imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police say the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was among those detained at a police station in Iten, one of Kenya’s famous high-altitude towns where distance runners train. They were in breach of a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. The group included a local politician.
Kipsang, who is also a police officer, was provisionally suspended this year from track and field and charged with doping offenses that include tampering with doping samples. He has also won the New York, London and Berlin marathons.
Twelve athletes were arrested in Iten earlier this week for breaching Kenyan government regulations on social gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis. The runners were arrested for training in a group, which has been banned in Kenya. Training camps have been shut down and athletes must train alone.