Update on the latest sports
NFL teams face potential forfeits for COVID-19 outbreaks
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL has informed teams they could potentially forfeit a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak among non-vaccinated players and that players on both teams wouldn’t get paid that week.
In a memo sent to clubs that was obtained by The Associated Press, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league doesn’t anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within the 18-week regular season. However, forfeits are among the consequences. For purposes of playoff seeding, the forfeiting team will be credited with a loss and the other team will be credited with a win.
The league says more than half its teams have COVID-19 vaccination rates greater than 80% of their players, and more than 75% of players are in the process of being vaccinated.
In other NFL news:
— All-Pro middle linebacker Fred Warner has signed a five-year extension with the San Francisco 49ers taking him through the 2026 season. The 24-year-old Warner has started all 48 games in his three seasons with San Francisco, making 79 tackles last season with a sack, forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. The 49ers selected Warner in the third round of the 2018 draft with the 70th overall pick.
Pelicans hire Suns assistant Willie Green as new head coach
UNDATED (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans have hired Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green as their new head coach.
Green, a former NBA player who turns 40 on July 28, is a first-time head coach after serving as an NBA assistant coach the past five years — first with Golden State and then with Phoenix, which lost to Milwaukee in the NBA Finals on Tuesday.
He arrives in New Orleans at a time when pressure is rising to give young star Zion Williamson faith that he can find long-term satisfaction with the club that drafted him first overall two years ago.
In other NBA news:
— Thousands of fans lined the streets of downtown Milwaukee today to catch a glimpse of their beloved Bucks in a parade to celebrate the city’s first NBA championship in half a century. Six police officers on horseback clopped past cheering fans at the head of a procession that included a hook-and-ladder fire truck, occasionally blaring its horn. Open-air buses and flatbed trucks carried Bucks stars including Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh) and Jrue (jroo) Holiday, as well as the trophy they captured Tuesday night with a Game 6 victory over Phoenix.
Rangers sign two-time Cup winner Goodrow to 6-year contract
UNDATED (AP) — Forward Barkley Goodrow, who just finished helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win consecutive Stanley Cups, has signed a six-year contract with the New York Rangers.
General Manager Chris Drury announced the signing less than a week after acquiring the rights to the unrestricted free agent from the Lightning for a seventh-round draft pick in 2022. Terms were not immediately available.
Goodrow skated in 55 games with Tampa Bay this past season, collecting six goals and 14 assists along with a team-best, plus-16 rating. The 28-year-old, who can play the wing or center, also led the Lightning in hits with 111.
In other NHL news:
— The Philadelphia Flyers have sent one-time cornerstone defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (GAHS’-tihs-behr) to the Arizona Coyotes along with second- and seventh-round picks in next year’s draft. Moving on from Gostisbehere gives the Flyers about $4.5 million in salary cap relief over the next two seasons, setting them up to continue a roster overhaul. Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong says Gostisbehere will be a solid addition to the team’s blue line. The 28-year-old had a strong rookie season in 2015-16 but his play tailed off dramatically after that.
— Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has pledged to cooperate with an investigation into allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010. The Blackhawks are facing two lawsuits, as well as the investigation being run by a formal federal prosecutor. The former assistant left the Blackhawks for a college job and then wound up in Michigan coaching youth hockey at one point. Bowman says the team does not condone sexual misconduct.
— The NHL has sent teams two versions of the schedule for the 2021-22 season. One includes an Olympic break to pause the season so NHL players can go to Beijing. The other is what the season would look like if the league, players and international officials cannot reach an Olympic agreement. The schedule being released publicly Thursday includes the Olympic break in the hope that a deal gets worked out. NHL players going to the Olympics for the first time since 2014 would extend the playoffs into late June. Either way, it’s back to normal with an 82-game regular season and 16-team playoff for the Stanley Cup.
Osaka makes her return against Zheng at Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka’s first match in nearly two months will come against 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China in the opening round of the Olympic tennis tournament.
The second-seeded Osaka, who represents host Japan and is one of the top names at the Games, is returning to competition after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental health break.
Osaka holds a 2-1 career edge over Zheng. Their match will be the very first contest of the Games on center court Saturday.
The first seeded opponent that Osaka could face is No. 16 Kiki Bertens, who is playing the final tournament of her career.
In the men’s draw, top-ranked Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) will open against No. 139 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia.
Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to complete a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year. He recently won Wimbledon for his 20th career Grand Slam title, after opening the year by winning the Australian and French Opens.
Draws were held Thursday — two days before play opens on the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.
In other Olympics news:
— American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb is out of the Olympics after four positive COVID-19 tests, and Tri Bourne will take his place as the partner of four-time Olympian Jake Gibb when the competition begins this weekend. Crabb confirmed his withdrawal Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press, noting that he was vaccinated and tested negative before he left the United States but tested positive when he arrived in Japan.
— U.S. gymnast Kara Eaker is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, while teammate Leanne Wong is in quarantine. Both are alternates for the U.S. team. Wong continues to test negative but was put in quarantine due to contact tracing. The U.S. delegation of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner worked out on each event during podium training on Thursday. They’re staying in a hotel near the venue rather than the Olympic village, a decision made before they arrived.
— Russian swimmer Ilya Borodin (BOH’-roh-deen), the European champion in the 400-meter individual medley, will miss the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for the coronavirus.
— A third athlete from the Czech Republic has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Games. The Czech team says beach volleyball player Markéta Sluková has entered a quarantine hotel, where two other athletes and two other coaches in its national delegation are staying. Another Czech beach volleyball player, Ondřej Perušič, tested positive this week. Table tennis player Pavel Sirucek also tested positive.
— A second Dutch athlete and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Games. Team NL says taekwondo athlete Reshmie Oogink and a rowing team staff member have tested positive and will quarantine for 10 days.
— One of the social media sensations of the Rio Olympics won’t be competing in Tokyo. Namibia’s Dan Craven tested positive for COVID-19 in Spain, where the former professional cyclist lives with his family.
— The West African country of Guinea has reversed an earlier decision to pull out of the Olympics. Guinea’s sports minister said Thursday the country will send a delegation of five athletes to the Tokyo Games after receiving “guarantees from the health authorities” that athletes would be protected. The country had announced a day earlier that it would not participate in the Games because of coronavirus concerns.
— Tokyo hit another six-month high in new COVID-19 cases a day before the Olympics begin. Thursday’s 1,979 new cases are the highest since 2,044 were recorded on Jan. 15. Japan’s prime minister placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have sharply increased since then.
— Jill Biden is in Tokyo on her first solo international trip as first lady, leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games. Her schedule includes dinner with the prime minister, meeting the emperor and attending Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony. The first lady leaves Tokyo on Saturday and is slated to visit a vaccination clinic in Hawaii on the trip back to Washington. The first lady departed Washington on Wednesday and arrived in Alaska, where she promoted COVID-19 vaccinations.
— Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Gwen Berry are among more than 150 educators, activists and athletes who signed a letter Thursday urging the IOC not to punish participants who demonstrate at the Tokyo Games. The five-page letter, published on the eve of the Olympics, asks the IOC not to sanction athletes for kneeling or raising a fist, the way Smith and Carlos did at the 1968 Mexico City Games. That move that got them kicked out of the Olympics. Berry, the American hammer thrower who triggered much of this debate, has said she intends to use her Olympic platform to promote her message. She turned away from the flag when the national anthem played while she was on the medals stand at the Olympic trials last month.
— The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has fired the director of the opening ceremony because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. His dismissal comes the day before Friday’s opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games. Earlier this week, a composer whose music is expected to be used at the opening ceremony was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates.
— The IOC says it will now include images of Olympic athletes taking a knee in its official highlight reels and social media channels. Players from five women’s soccer teams kneeled in support of racial justice before their games Wednesday. That was the first day it was allowed at the Olympic Games after a decades-long total ban on athlete protest gestures on the field. But the images were excluded from highlights package provided by the IOC to media that could not broadcast the games live.
Abbott 1-hitter leads US over Canada 1-0, 2-0 softball start
TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. is 2-0 in Olympic women’s softball following a 1-0 victory over Canada.
Monica Abbott pitched a one-hitter, center fielder Haylie McCleney and second baseman Ali Aguilar combined with catcher Aubree Munro to throw out the potential tying run at the plate in the sixth inning. Amanda Chidester hit an RBI single in the fifth off loser Jenna Caira that scored McCleney. McCleney went 3 for 3 with a walk and has reached base seven times in the two games.
The Americans are trying to regain the gold medal they lost to Japan in 2008.
In other Olympic softball action:
— Australia evened its record to 1-1 in Olympic softball with a 1-0 victory over Italy in Olympic softball. Jade Wall hit a run-scoring single in the second inning and Kaia Parnaby took a three-hitter into the seventh. Australia is fourth among the six teams after an opening loss to Japan, and Italy fell to 0-2.
— Host Japan beat Mexico 3-2 in softball to improve to 2-0 at the Tokyo Games. Mana Atsumi’s squeeze bunt single with one out in the eighth inning scored automatic runner Eri Yamada.
Australia stuns Argentina 2-0
TOKYO (AP) — Two-time Olympic men’s soccer champion Argentina was stunned 2-0 by Australia.
In its first Olympic match since 2008, Australia took the lead through Lachlan Wales’ tap-in the 14th minute at the Sapporo Dome. Marco Tilio secured the victory in the 80th, just a minute after coming off the bench. The Argentines won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008.
Australia is top of Group C ahead Egypt and Spain, who drew 0-0 in the other game.
Richarlison scored a hat trick for Brazil in a 4-2 victory over Germany. The goals came only 11 days after the forward was playing in the Copa America final loss to Argentina. He was allowed to do double duty on summer international tournaments by Premier League club Everton.
Romania made a winning return to Olympic men’s soccer after 57 years with a 1-0 victory over Honduras that was clinched by Elvin Oliva’s own goal.
Japan beat South Africa 1-0, France lost to Mexico 4-1, Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 and New Zealand beat South Korea 1-0.