Pope Francis said Sunday he would not be taking part in a planned six-day spiritual retreat south of Rome after coming down with a “cold”.The 83-year-old pontiff suffered two coughing spells that forced him to turn away from the crowd and cover his mouth with his fist on a windy and cloudy day on Saint Peter’s Square.”Unfortunately, a cold forced me not to take part this year,” he said after reciting the traditional Angelus Prayer and addressing the unfolding migrant crisis on Turkey’s border with Greece. There have been 29 confirmed deaths and 105 people were receiving intensive care treatment in hospital — all of them in three adjacent northern regions near Milan.The Vatican quickly shot down speculation that the pope himself had come down with COVID-19.”There is no evidence to suggest a diagnosis of anything other than a slight ailment,” a Vatican spokesman told AFP Sunday.The pope himself looked relatively strong on Sunday despite the coughing fits.He smiled a few times and addressed a range of theological issues before turning his attention to the plight of thousands of migrants from Turkey who have been blocked at the rugged frontier with Greece. “I am a little saddened by the news coming from many displaced people, so many men, women and children chased because of war,” Francis said.The pontiff asked the faithful to share a prayer for “so many migrants who seek refuge in the world — and help”.Faithfuls listen to Pope Francis’ speech as he delivers the Sunday Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on March 01, 2020. (AFP/ Filippo MONTEFORTE) Italy shuts down Concerns about the pope’s health have been mounting for days in a country where mass closures of public institutions and businesses due to the coronavirus are affecting the lives of millions.He first looked like he might be sick on Wednesday and lightened his workload for the rest of the week.The Vatican used the “mild ailment” term for the first time on Thursday to explain why the pope was spending his day around his Saint Martha’s guest house in the Vatican.But he still continued celebrating the morning mass and receiving visitors even as football matches were being cancelled and businesses were telling their employees to work from home.He met with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church head Sviatoslav Shevchuk on Saturday and spent almost 15 minutes speaking on Sunday from his Vatican window.The Argentine-born pontiff has enjoyed a life of good health despite losing part of a lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica — a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.Yet he rarely cancels appointments and normally takes extra time to mingle with supporters and the faithful.Topics : The annual retreat will still start Sunday but only include members of the Roman Curia administration team of the Holy See.The pope will be staying home while the rest of Italy battles Europe’s worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has spread from China to every continent except for Antarctica.Pope Francis wipes his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass which opens Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter, on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. – Pope Francis postponed his official appointments on February 28 and was working from home, the Vatican said, a day after cancelling a scheduled appearance at mass because of “a mild ailment”. Francis, 83, had appeared earlier in the week to be suffering from a cold. He was seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service, and his voice sounded hoarse. (AFP/Alberto PIZZOLI)The number of cases in Italy surpassed 1,000 on Saturday and the toll continues to mount.
Update on the latest sports Associated Press SPORTS-VIRUS OUTBREAK-OKLAHOMAOklahoma athletics cutting $13.7M from budgetUNDATED (AP) — The Oklahoma athletics department is cutting $13.7 million from its budget, blaming those cuts on fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.Budget cuts include a 10% salary drop for any employee earning at least $1 million per year. Athletic director Joe Castiglione said the moves were the “first steps” in responding to the financial losses associated with virus outbreak. In other NFL news:— The Green Bay Packers have signed each of their two top draft picks: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love and Boston College running back A.J. Dillon. Green Bay gave the Miami Dolphins a fourth-round draft choice to move up four spots in the first round and take Love with the 26th overall selection back in April. The Packers chose Dillon with the 62nd overall pick. Both selections were somewhat surprising because the Packers already have two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Aaron Jones at running back.— Some NFL players are raising concerns about playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic while others are ignoring advice of medical experts by working out with teammates. JC Tretter, a center on the Cleveland Browns and president of the NFL Players Association, wrote an open letter to players saying they have to fight for “necessary COVID-19 protections.” New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said last week that “football is a nonessential business and so we don’t need to do it.” Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has asthma so he wants to “take every precaution” if he plays.NHL-COYOTES-KESSELHealthy Kessel expected to give Coyotes a boost in return The 34-year-old Smith hasn’t played in the league since November 2018, but the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year is a longtime trusted teammate of James. They won the NBA title together with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and reached four consecutive NBA Finals.In other NBA news: — Houston’s Thabo Sefolosha is opting out of the NBA’s restart in Orlando. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Wednesday because the decision hasn’t been announced. Sefolosha is in his first season with the Rockets. The 36-year-old is a 15-year NBA veteran who has also played for Utah, Atlanta, Oklahoma City and Chicago. The Rockets are schedule to resume the season on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.— Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers says Lou Williams is expected to join the team for the NBA’s restart in Florida. Williams has described himself as “50-50” on whether he would finish out the pandemic-interrupted season. Rivers says he doesn’t think any of the Clippers are opting out from resuming the season. The team heads to Orlando next week.— Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown says All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are healthy for the NBA restart. Brown says Simmons is “good to go” following a lengthy layoff with a back injury. Embiid was recovering from surgery on his left hand and had just returned after missing five games with a sprained left shoulder at the time of the shutdown. Brown says he expects Embiid to return to play in the best shape of his professional career. — The baseball organization that presents the annual MVP awards will consider whether the name of former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis should be pulled from future plaques. A longtime official of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America says the issue will be put up for discussion. Former NL Most Valuable Players Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton say they would favor removing Landis’ name because of concerns over his handling of Black players. Landis was hired in 1920 as MLB’s first commissioner and no Blacks played in the majors during his quarter-century tenure.NBA NEWSLakers add veteran J.R. Smith for Orlando championship pushLOS ANGELES (AP) — J.R. Smith has joined LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for their championship push.The Lakers announced their long-anticipated signing of Smith as a substitute player. Smith is the Lakers’ replacement for Avery Bradley, who cited family reasons for his decision not to finish the season with the Lakers in Orlando. The hearing came as three states have signed athlete-compensation bills into law, with Florida’s set to take effect next summer. Sankey said there’s a risk of states “one-upping each other” with their own versions without a federal law.In other NCAA news:— The NCAA’s infractions case against the University of Kansas men’s basketball program has been accepted into a newly created independent investigation process that was created to handle especially complex cases. It is the first step in a process that was created in August 2018 to deal with select cases and minimize perceived conflicts of interest. Kansas has been accused by the NCAA of committing five Level I violations, which are considered the most egregious, as part of the fallout of an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. The case hinges on whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters when two of them arrange payments to prospective recruits.COLLEGE FOOTBALL-SCALLEYUtah defensive coordinator Scalley to keep job after review – The Dallas Mavericks have signed guard Trey Burke as a replacement after center Willie Cauley-Stein decided not to rejoin the team for the planned resumption of the season.— The Brooklyn Nets don’t look ready for a restart, but general manager Sean Marks says there was no discussion of the team not traveling to Florida for the resumption of the NBA season. DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler aren’t going, and Spencer Dinwiddie’s status is uncertain after both he and Jordan tested positive for the coronavirus. Marks also says neither Kevin Durant nor Kyrie Irving will return from injuries to rejoin the Nets this season. The GM says he will support any other players who choose not to play. Brooklyn is currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. NFL-PRESEASONAP Source: NFL cutting preseason in half, pushing back startUNDATED (AP) — A person with knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that the NFL will cut the preseason in half and push the start of exhibition play back a week to give players more time to get in shape. Teams haven’t been able to gather together since last season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league and the players association have been meeting to find ways to make sure they can have games in a safe environment. The exhibition slate will now begin Aug. 20 instead of Aug. 13. Teams will begin reporting to training camp July 28. SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley will remain on staff but will take a pay cut and must undergo diversity training after being suspended for using a racial slur in a 2013 text message. Utah announced Scalley will participate in diversity and inclusion education, and have his salary cut from $1.1 million to $525,000. His contract also was trimmed from a multiyear deal to a one-year deal, and he will no longer be the designated head coach in waiting. Scalley was suspended last month when his use of a racial slur in a text message was posted on social media.WNBA-MAYA MOORE-PRISONERMissouri man freed from prison with help from WNBA’s MooreJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man was freed from prison Wednesday after a county prosecutor declined to retry his case, punctuating years of work by WNBA star Maya Moore and other supporters who argued he was falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges.Moore was on hand when Jonathan Irons, 40, walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center. She clapped as Irons approached a group of people waiting for his release. She then dropped to her knees at one point before joining a group hug around Irons. The Rocket Mortgage Classic’s latest policy change on the coronavirus means Cameron Champ can play the tour this week in Detroit. Champ tested positive for the virus last week when he arrived for the Travelers Championship. That meant he had to self-isolate for 10 days without showing symptoms. Champ was asymptomatic when he tested positive. The tour says he had three negative tests over the next three days. The tour consulted with the CDC on its policy change. Now, anyone who is asymptomatic and tests positive will be eligible to return with two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.In other coronavirus related sports news:— UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is asking for federal help to get foreign students that include athletes back to campus. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he and other members of Congress plan to press the Department of Homeland Security to grant exemptions for the students, similar to ones given to professional athletes last month.— Coach Dawn Staley would be prepping the U.S. women’s basketball team for the Tokyo Olympics this week if not for the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, she’ll hold a Zoom conference call with players who are vying for a spot on the roster in 2021, if the postponed Olympics are held next year. Staley’s focus these days involves getting her South Carolina women’s team back on campus in a safe environment. Her team finished No. 1 in the last AP poll and won the SEC Tournament before the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus.— Six players with FC Dallas have tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire team has been quarantined ahead of the MLS Is Back tournament. The team says the players tested positive upon arrival in Florida for a tournament that starts next week. All of the league’s 26 teams are sequestered in hotels in advance of the tournament played without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World. He had been serving a 50-year prison sentence stemming from the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. Moore and Irons became friends after meeting through prison ministry, according to the Times. The 31-year-old Moore, a Jefferson City, Missouri, native who starred at UConn before helping lead Minnesota to four WNBA titles, put her career on hold last season to help Irons.BOBSLED-WORLD CUPBobsled, skeleton still planning for full World Cup seasonLAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Bobsled and skeleton officials indicated Wednesday that they are still planning for a full World Cup season, releasing detailed schedules for eight races as well as the world championships that remain scheduled for February in Lake Placid, New York. Also still on the schedule: a season-finale at the new track built for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The addition to the revised schedule released Wednesday was the addition of women’s monobob to the schedule for Lake Placid’s two weeks of world-title races. In other baseball news:— An emotional Chicago Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is recovering from a severe case of COVID-19 that quarantined him for 30 days. The former major leaguer learned he had the virus on the third day he felt ill following a nasal test. Hottovy tested negative about two weeks ago and still gets winded easily. Hottovy isolated in a spare bedroom with a relentless fever, difficulty breathing, dehydration and an increased heart rate. It was particularly bad at night, making sleep just about impossible.— The Kansas City Royals have launched what they are calling a “Fanbassador” program in which up to 500 fans may purchase a plastic cutout of their likeness for $40 apiece that will be displayed in a seat at Kauffman Stadium during the abbreviated 2020 season. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Royals Respond Fund.— Colorado Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich says he supports outfielder Ian Desmond’s decision to sit out the 2020 major league baseball season over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and other issues in society. Desmond’s will be replaced by veteran Matt Kemp. The slugger has agreed to a minor league deal with the Rockies and could get the DH job.— Catcher Patrick Bailey has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants that includes a $3.8 million signing bonus. He was selected 13th overall in last month’s amateur draft, The 21-year-old hit .296 with six homers, including three grand slams, and 20 RBIs in 17 games in the pandemic-shortened season as a junior at North Carolina State. He earned the Johnny Bench award as the top Division I catcher, an honor also won the Giants’ Buster Posey in 2008 and Joey Bart in 2018. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditMLB-BASEBALL RETURNSMLB players begin reporting for tests as first workouts nearUNDATED (AP) — Baseball players began reporting to their teams Wednesday in the most significant step yet as MLB presses ahead with its plan for a 60-game sprint of a season. Most players underwent a battery of health checks, not only for COVID-19 but also for any other lingering ailments from spring training, ahead of planned workouts beginning Friday and Saturday. And one thing was clear: Despite rising numbers of positive tests and some players opting out, most players and executives are bullish about the season taking place in just a few weeks. RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A healthy Phil Kessel should give the Arizona Coyotes a big lift when the NHL season resumes. Kessel labored during the first part of his inaugural season in the desert while battling injuries. The 32-year-old right wing suffered a groin injury early and didn’t have the same explosiveness he had in the past, scoring 14 goals with 24 assists in 70 games. The NHL’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic allowed Kessel to heal, giving the Coyotes hope of a deep playoff run.Elsewhere in the NHL:— Carolina Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell says executive Rick Dudley won’t return. The 71-year-old Dudley had worked as the Hurricanes senior vice president of hockey operations since 2018, part of nearly five decades in professional hockey. Waddell says the Hurricanes are still in talks with longtime TV play-by-play announcer John Forslund on a new deal.SPORTS-VIRUS OUTBREAKUNDATED (AP) — Webb Simpson is competing on the PGA Tour again after his family had a coronavirus scare. One of Simpson’s daughters tested positive for the virus, leading to him withdrawing from last week’s tournament as a precaution. Simpson says the daughter, along with his wife and other kids, later tested negative. Webb leads the tour in FedEx Cup points and scoring average. He is attempting to become the PGA Tour’s first player with three victories during this pandemic-interrupted year. Chad Campbell has withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit after becoming the sixth PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus. — For the first time in almost a century, Mexico has cancelled its professional baseball season. It’s the first time in 95 years a whole season had been cancelled. The season was scheduled to start Aug. 7, but the 16 team owners decided that they could not guarantee the safety of fans and players. -If basketball icon LeBron James gets his way, NBA arenas and other sports venues around the country will be mega polling sites for the November general election. The Atlanta Hawks and the Detroit Pistons have already made deals with local elections officials in their cities. The effort will advise sports franchises around the country on how to follow suit.NCAA-COMPENSATING ATHLETESSankey: federal NIL law needed to ensure fair competitionUNDATED (AP) — Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey has told a U.S. Senate committee that there needs to be a uniform federal law to regulate the compensation of college athletes instead of a series of state-level versions with different requirements. July 1, 2020
(ESPNCricinfo) – After months of pain-staking preparation, cricket’s long-awaited return was held up not by bio-security protocols, the addition of saliva to a ball or a shortage of hand sanitiser – but by the weather. Perhaps it was inevitable after months of sunshine in the UK that rain and bad light would play their all-too-familiar parts, but that did little to lessen the disappointment as only 17.4 overs were possible at the Ageas Bowl.During the three small windows of play possible, England dug in after stand-in captain Ben Stokes won the toss and chose to bat, as Rory Burns and Joe Denly led the recovery after the loss of Dom Sibley only 10 balls into the innings. It looked like a good toss to lose, with overcast skies offering assistance for seamers but the pitch seemingly slowish underneath a firmer top.Jason Holder said he was “not too disheartened” to be bowling first and asked for “discipline” from his bowlers, after opting to pick an extra batsman in Jermaine Blackwood and fielding four frontline quicks including himself.So, 117 days after the last ball in international cricket – a Pat Cummins bouncer which Trent Boult slashed at to offer a steepling return catch in Sydney – Burns defended Kemar Roach into the off side to get proceedings underway, but in all the teams managed just 82 minutes of action.The delayed start offered a chance for Sky – whose £1.1 billion, five-year broadcast deal had given the ECB such an imperative to get this series on – to show off all the new toys in their coverage. Those included a new Big Brother-style diary room for mid-match player interactions and the robot that filled in for a presenter at the toss, but the build-up was primarily dominated by more important issues.Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent spoke candidly and openly about their experiences of racism, and players and staff from both teams took a knee before Kemar Roach’s first ball, as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. England wore the names of key workers on their training shirts, and observed a minute’s silence to remember both those who died during the pandemic and the late Sir Everton Weekes.If there were any concerns that the unprecedented circumstances might in some way distract players from the task at hand, West Indies’ opening bowlers made sure that England’s top order were unable to lose focus. Roach started immaculately, finding hints of movement, while in his first over Shannon Gabriel jagged a length ball in off the seam which Sibley ill-advisedly left alone, turning round to see his off stump pegged back.Gabriel’s opening burst was slightly wayward at times, but despite his status as a late addition to the squad after being asked to prove he had overcome his ankle injury, he regularly hit 90mph/145kph and found late movement as the ball passed the bat.He nearly accounted for Denly in his fifth over, who edged him with hard hands through the vacant fourth-slip reason for four, while Roach nagged away from the Hotel End, landing the ball on a sixpence in the off-stump channel.Burns and Denly found scoring slightly easier against Alzarri Joseph – included ahead of Rahkeem Cornwall as West Indies decided to back Roston Chase as their only main spin option – before bad light intervened around teatime. A combination of drizzle and dark cloud kept the teams off the pitch until the umpires eventually decided they had seen enough just before 18.15hrs.The main talking point overnight had been Stuart Broad’s omission from the England team, which Ben Stokes admitted had been “a very tough decision” as he opted to partner Mark Wood with Jofra Archer for the first time in Test cricket.Broad and Chris Woakes, the other man to miss out from England’s 13-man squad, “took it like champions” according to Stokes, presumably in the knowledge that an opportunity would arise later in the series. James Anderson described England’s schedule – which features six Tests in the space of seven weeks – as “gruelling”, and rotation will be an inevitable feature of the summer.There was almost a breach of social-distancing protocols as soon as the coin had landed at the toss when Stokes’ attempted fist bump was met by Holder’s handshake, but with so little time in the middle it was hard to draw any conclusions about the new normal.The broadcasters pumped in a low-level hum of crowd noise, which was conspicuous only when it failed to turn into a ripple of polite applause after each boundary, but the ICC’s ban on the use of saliva may only be noticed when the ball gets older.SCOREBOARD ENGLAND 1st InningsR Burns not out 20D Sibley b Gabriel 0J Denley not out 14Extras (nb1) 1TOTAL (wkt 1, 17.4 overs) 35Fall of wicket: 1-0 (Sibley).To bat: Z Crawley, O Pope, *B Stokes, +J Buttler, J Anderson, J Archer, D Bess, M Wood.Bowling: Roach 6-4-2-0, Gabriel 5-1-19-1, Joseph 3.4-1-11-0, Holder 3-1-3-0.WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.UMPIRES: Richard Kettleborough, Richard Illingworth; TV – Michael Gough.