French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said professional sports in the country for the 2019-2020 season will not resume. David Niviere/Pool via AP

PARIS — The French government called off the soccer and rugby league seasons on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

France is set to come out of lockdown on May 11.

“The 2019-20 season of professional sport, notably soccer, won’t be able to resume,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

France’s top two soccer divisions have 10 games remaining in their seasons. Rugby’s Top 14 league had reached the semifinal stage.

Paris Saint-Germain, which leads the French league, has also reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Lyon beat Italian champion Juventus 1-0 at home in the first leg of their last-16 game, but has not yet played the return leg in Turin.

It was not immediately clear how this will affect PSG and Lyon playing in Europe’s elite club soccer competition.

If the end of lockdown is confirmed on May 7, people will be able to exercise freely but individually and with certain restrictions, like social distancing, kept in place. People will not be able to exercise in locations with closed roofs “or take part in collective (team) or contact sports,” Philippe said.

He also said events with more 5,000 people, like “big sporting and cultural events” will not take place before September.

The Tour de France was rescheduled earlier this month for Aug. 29-Sept. 20.

ARGENTINA’S SOCCER FEDERATION called an end to the league season on Tuesday, and said no teams will be relegated until at least 2022 because of the disruption created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The AFA said in a statement that the decision affects all competitions it organizes, including the country’s first division.

AFA head Claudio Tapia also said the next season might not begin until January.

“This is a global crisis that needs us all to do something. Maybe the measures will be unpopular, but we have to take them,” Tapia told TNT Sports on Monday, after first announcing that the cancellation was coming.

In Argentina’s first divsion, the teams with the worst point average over the previous three seasons are relegated. One of the clubs that will benefit from the ruling is Gimnasia La Plata, coached by Diego Maradona.

Spots in the next Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana will be awarded based on the standings from March 15, when all soccer activity was suspended in the South American nation.

Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club and Argentinos Juniors have already secured their places in next year’s Copa Libertadores, but there were still two spots up for grabs.

The AFA also said in its statement that it is “indispensable” that fans are able to attend games when competitions return.

“We don’t know the science for sure for soccer to return, that decision is not for us,” Tapia said in his TV interview. “Everyone’s will is to play when we can, and if we have to play in January because we could not do that during this year, we will do that.”

THE 2021 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course is delaying the start of ticket sales until August.

Tickets were originally set to go on sale to those who registered online in May. Instead, PGA Championship tournament director Scott Reid said that with the world grappling with the coronavirus pandemic it was not appropriate to ask potential spectators to make purchasing decisions at this time.

The tournament said the 2021 event remains set for its May dates. This year’s PGA Championship in San Francisco was moved from its original dates next month to early August.

THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE will bring its men’s basketball tournament back to Greensboro, North Carolina in 2023 after this year’s tournament there was canceled near the midway point due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league announced the move Tuesday.

The ACC is headquartered in Greensboro, which has hosted the tournament 27 times, the most of any location. Last month’s event was canceled after two days of play, with regular-season champion Florida State being presented the tournament championship trophy in accordance with league bylaws without even playing a game.

In a statement, commissioner John Swofford said returning to Greensboro in 2023 was “the right thing to do” while calling the relationship between the ACC and the city “extremely special.”

The ACC Tournament will be held in Washington next year and in Brooklyn in 2022.

TEXAS TECH Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt said the school will cut nearly $7 million from the athletic budget in the upcoming school year, including eliminating performance bonuses for himself and Red Raiders coaches.

The cuts are needed because of the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and deeper cuts may be needed if college football can’t play a full season, Hocutt told A-J Media in Lubbock, Texas.

Hocutt did not say the school was cutting any jobs or sports. Most of the cuts will come from reducing administrative and operational expenses. Eliminating the bonuses for the coaches and himself will save nearly $2 million, he said.

“The starting point here is simply we’re not spending any money right now that we don’t have to, and we’re not spending much,” Hocutt said.

ATHLETES IN TRACK AND FIELD can apply for money from a $500,000 fund to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic.

World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation launched the fund to help athletes who have lost income because competitions are suspended.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says the fund will try “to help as many athletes as possible.”

It’s unclear when or if the track season can begin. Diamond League meets and the Olympics have been postponed.

Coe says the fund was the idea of 1,500-meter world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj. The Moroccan runner will be part of the team examining applications from athletes.

THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT says professional athletes in the country can resume training individually next week.

The government made the announcement while revealing a four-phase plan to get the country back to normal following the coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says “basic” training for professional athletes will be permitted beginning Monday. It’s the start of the first phase of the plan aimed at easing the lockdown measures that have been in place since March 14.

High-performance sports facilities will be allowed to reopen in the second phase of the plan, which will begin as early as May 11, depending on the situation in each province.

Sánchez did not say when sports competitions, such as the domestic soccer league, are expected to resume. The Spanish league has said it doesn’t plan to restart before the end of May. The league has already sent clubs a detailed protocol with safety guidelines on how to return to practice.

THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES are suspending retirement benefits for members of Pittsburgh’s baseball operations staff in an effort to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday the team has been searching for ways to find savings with the 2020 season on hold. The temporary suspension of retirement benefits is part of an effort to avoid any potential personnel cutbacks.

“We did identify the retirement contributions at least temporarily an area where we might find some savings without too much impact on people, in terms of their every day lives,” Cherington said. “Our full expectation is that the contribution will go back into effect as soon as possible.”

The club announced last week it planned to pay all employees through May. While Cherington is optimistic there will be some semblance of a season, he said the franchise is exploring all options from top to bottom in an effort to mitigate any negative impact on employees.


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