USA Basketball (USAB) has confirmed that Saturday's exhibition game between the United States and Australia has been cancelled due to growing COVID-19 fears.

The two sides were due to meet for the second time this week as part of their preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

The cancellation comes after USAB confirmed on Thursday that two players had entered health and safety protocols.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal had been ruled out of the Olympics after entering protocols, while Jerami Grant was also placed under protocols, as a precautionary measure.

Team USA are still scheduled to play Spain in Las Vegas on Sunday in their final preparation game before flying for Tokyo on Monday.

USA's opening game at the Tokyo Olympics is on July 25 against France, while Australia commence their Games campaign on the same day against Nigeria.

Australia had shocked USA 91-83 on Tuesday, following their upset defeat to Nigeria on Monday.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will meet for a third time on October 9, with the fight having to be rescheduled at short notice.

Fury and Wilder were set to meet in Las Vegas on July 24, yet Fury tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him into self-isolation and resulting in the bout being postponed.

The fight for the WBC heavyweight title will now take place on October 9, still at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.

Fury had been set to meet WBO, IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia in August, but Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third fight.

It remains to be seen how the new date for the Wilder bout impacts Fury's plans to take on Joshua, though a meeting this year would now seem unlikely. 

Fury has a 30-0-1 career record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018 that finished in a contentious split draw.

McLaren chief executive Zak Brown will miss the British Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, it emerged on Thursday.

Brown was one of three members of the McLaren team to return a positive test ahead of the Silverstone race weekend, but drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have had the all-clear.

The team said in a statement: "McLaren Racing confirmed today that three team members, including CEO Zak Brown, tested positive for COVID-19 during the team’s rigorous testing programme before the British Grand Prix. Neither of our drivers are close contacts.

"All three cases are unconnected and now isolating in accordance with government guidelines. The team’s operations for the British Grand Prix are unaffected."

Brown added on his Twitter account: "I've notified all my close contacts and isolating in accordance with government guidelines. I'll still be connected to and supporting the team safely from home."

McLaren stand third in the constructors' championship, with Norris their standout performer, earning three third places among eight top-five finishes from nine races.

Ricciardo's best results have been three sixth-placed finishes and he stands eighth in the drivers' standings.

British driver Norris, fourth in the championship, will be eyeing a strong performance in this coming Sunday's race, as well as Saturday's inaugural sprint.

He was said to be "shaken" after having his expensive watch stolen after attending the Euro 2020 final last Sunday.

 

Real Madrid revealed they have lost "close to €300million" in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic as their financial results were announced on Wednesday.

However, Los Blancos reported a post-tax profit of €874,000 for 2020-21, up from €313,000 in the previous financial year.

"In this way, the club will be one of the few big clubs in Europe that does not incur losses in these two years, given that – according to a UEFA study – the operating losses accumulated by European clubs between 2019-20 and 2020-21 will approach €6billion," Madrid said.

A statement attributed the club's financial performance to "intense spending saving measures in all areas".

These measures, Madrid said, were the only way to compensate for a sizeable nine-figure revenue loss, "to which we would have to add the loss of new income that could have been achieved if the pandemic had not existed."

The 13-time European champions did not make a single first-team signing in the 2020-21 season while selling Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon and allowing James Rodriguez to leave.

Further big names are following this year, with Sergio Ramos departing after claiming a contract offer was withdrawn and Raphael Varane widely linked to Manchester United.

However, Madrid are not considered to be in as tricky a situation as rivals Barcelona, who are closing on a new deal for Lionel Messi but must first clear room under their salary cap.

And Los Blancos – whose Santiago Bernabeu stadium is under renovation, with the team playing elsewhere during the pandemic – continue to be linked with high-profile moves for the likes of Kylian Mbappe.

But the final line in Madrid's financial report appeared to rule out sudden significant expenditure.

"With regard to the economic situation, current forecasts indicate that the recovery from the pre-pandemic situation will not be immediate," the club said.

"In this context, the club will continue in the effort so far to contain spending."

Two-time former Masters champion Bubba Watson has withdrawn from the Open Championship.

Watson, who finished sixth last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, said he had come into contact with somebody who has been confirmed as having the COVID-19 virus.

The 42-year-old must therefore stay at home in the United States rather than travel to England for the major, which begins at Royal St George's in Kent on Thursday.

Watson posted a statement to his social media accounts that read: "I am disappointed to announce I will not compete at the Open Championship next week due to having direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel COVID test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board."

He added: "Like many of you, I look forward to watching the Open Championship on TV. Since I will be watching from the comfort of my couch I would not mind seeing the field have to deal with a little rain and strong winds!

"Best of luck to all the players. I look forward to returning to the Open Championship next year."

Watson won the Masters in 2012 and 2014 but has often struggled at The Open, which is the only one of the four majors at which he has failed to register a top-five finish. Indeed, his best performance has been a tie for 23rd place at the 2012 tournament.

The NRL has moved the final match of the State of Origin series to the Gold Coast due to coronavirus restrictions in Newcastle.

It means New South Wales Blues – who lead the series 2-0 after rampant victories in the opening two games – have the chance to win three State of Origin matches in Queensland to complete what would be an unprecedented clean sweep.

Game one of the series was scheduled to be played in Melbourne, only for COVID-19 restrictions to force a switch to Townsville.

While game two took place as planned in Brisbane, game three – which is next week – was moved from Sydney's Stadium Australia to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.

However, with Sydney and the surrounding areas in lockdown, New South Wales' regional government advised that a major event with a crowd would not feasible. 

Gold Coast has been selected as a low-risk option, with both teams located close to the Cbus Stadium, which will be able to welcome a capacity crowd of around 27,000.

Though it means all three matches will have been held in Queensland, Blues coach Brad Fittler is unfazed.

"It's disappointing that we can't play at Newcastle and play in front of a NSW crowd," Fittler said. "But we will play anywhere, anytime."

The Blues thrashed the Maroons 50-6 in game one, before winning game two 26-0.

Organisers for the Tokyo Olympics have confirmed spectators will be banned from attending events being held in the city after Japan's capital was placed into a state of emergency again.

The decision was taken following a meeting between organisers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, plus the Japanese government.

It was announced Tokyo will once more enter a state of emergency, which will run until at least August 22, amid rising coronavirus cases.

Japan's Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa is quoted as saying: "We reached an agreement on no spectators at venues in Tokyo."

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said it is "regrettable", while adding: "A very heavy judgement was made...[but we] no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way."

The decision was widely expected but marks a fresh blow for the Games, which were postponed by a year because of the global pandemic.

Many residents of Japan have expressed opposition to the Games due to the hordes of athletes, officials and media arriving from overseas.

While avoiding the huge numbers of infection rates seen in other nations, Japan has registered over 800,000 cases and 14,800 deaths, while 920 new daily cases were reported on Wednesday. There have also been concerns about the speed of the country's COVID-19 vaccine programme.

Despite the vocal opposition, the government has pressed ahead with plans for the Games, which organisers stated in December would cost a staggering $15.4billion.

The Olympic Games officially get under way on July 23 with the opening ceremony, although softball and football start two days earlier, and run until August 8. Following that, the Paralympics are set to take place between August 24 and September 5.

 

Major events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could take place behind closed doors after Japan confirmed a new state of emergency would be imposed.

Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said any event scheduled for after 9pm would be unable to take place in front of spectators.

Currently, major athletics events, including the women's and men's 100 metres finals on July 31 and August 1, are due to take place after that time.

"We are now having experts discuss regarding the event and spectators within the area of the state of emergency declaration," Kato said.

"The threshold is 50 per cent of capacity or 5,000 people and, thinking about the time, the event should be ended around 9pm.

"In the case of Tokyo, the intensive measures, that is relying on the judgement of the governor.

"However, Tokyo is under a state of emergency declaration, so any event after 9pm is going to be without spectators.

"Having said that, specific counter measures, how to handle this, is going to be discussed after July 12, when the state of emergency declaration is issued.

"We have to be thinking about the handling of the spectators.

"The contractor is the Tokyo prefecture and the implementor is the Olympic Committee.

"From this perspective the government will air its opinions and at the end of the day the implementer will make the final decision."

It is possible the entire Olympics will happen without spectators, local reports have suggested.

Should fans still be allowed in to venues, it seems likely scheduling will need to be altered to avoid blue-riband events happening in front of empty seats after the curfew.

Bars and restaurants in Tokyo must close at 8pm under the restrictions, but events such as concerts will have a 9pm curfew.

Prime minister Yoshihide Suga has declared the emergency measures will be in place until August 22, amid rising coronavirus cases.

The Olympic Games, already delayed by a year, officially begins on July 23 with the opening ceremony, although softball and football start two days earlier.

Many residents of Japan have expressed opposition to the Games going ahead, given the influx of competitors, officials and media from overseas.

The Olympics is due to run until August 8, and is scheduled to be followed by the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.

The British and Irish Lions' clash with the Sharks is in doubt after a member of their management team tested positive for coronavirus, while South Africa's game with Georgia is off.

Warren Gatland's men are due to face the Sharks in the second match of their tour of South Africa on Wednesday.

However, four members of the touring party, including two players, are now isolating having been deemed to be close contacts of the individual who had the positive test result.

Kick-off has been pushed back to 20:00 local time (19:00 BST) pending the results of PCR tests for the rest of the touring party. The game will go ahead should those tests return negative results.

"We have followed all necessary precautions since the start of the tour, which included regular testing and rigorous COVID-19 counter measure planning and protocols," said Ben Calveley, managing director for the Lions.

"Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of the entire touring party, which is why we quickly isolated the players and staff upon receiving the news of the positive result.

"Everyone has subsequently been lateral flow and PCR tested. The Medical Advisory Group await the results of the PCR testing in order to make a decision on tonight's game.

"The five individuals affected will be monitored closely during isolation and receive the best possible medical attention as we await the results of their PCR tests."

The Springboks' second Test with Georgia was cancelled due to COVID outbreaks in both camps.

South Africa's playing and management group returned 12 positive tests this week, with Georgia returning four. 

Jurie Roux, CEO of South Africa Rugby, said: "In the context of the loss of life and economic damage that COVID and this third wave are wreaking, the cancellation of a rugby match is pretty trivial.

"But it is still a major disappointment for the many stakeholders who have invested so much time, energy and resources into making these matches happen.

"I especially feel for the fans and players, and for our visitors from Georgia who travelled here at relatively short notice to take on the series, which has now been cut short. We've not been able to interact with them because of the bio-secure environments, but I'd like to thank them publicly for their support.

"We continue to plan for the Springboks' re-emergence from isolation and the completion of the Test series but in the short term we wish a speedy recovery for those who have been infected."

The Lions' clash with the Bulls on Saturday is already off and, while they are scheduled to face South Africa 'A' next Wednesday, the remainder of the tour now looks to be in question.

South Africa have recorded a further 10 COVID-19 cases, including head coach Jacques Nienaber, while the British and Irish Lions' match with the Bulls has been postponed.

A Lions statement on Tuesday confirmed they were exploring a rescheduling of the match or finding different opponents after five positive tests meant it was "impossible" for the Bulls to field a team.

The Lions' meeting with the Sharks in Johannesburg next Wednesday is set to go ahead as scheduled.

However, the Springboks' match with Georgia next week is also in doubt after Nienaber, five management figures and four players - Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard and Frans Malherbe - all returned positive tests.

There were also four cases of the virus within the Georgia team. Jurie Roux, CEO of South Africa Rugby, said the news underlined the problems posed by the Delta variant of the virus, which was first identified in India but has since spread to numerous countries.

"These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the Delta variant," he said.

"The Springboks' second Test against Georgia is now in serious doubt, but we will wait for the MAG to consider the data and we will make the final decision tomorrow [Wednesday].

"The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series and we will continue to focus on that."

On Monday, South Africa suspended training and placed their squad in isolation after lock Lood de Jager tested positive for coronavirus.

There had been three further confirmed cases of the virus within the squad on June 27, although they were still able to go ahead with their first warm-up match against Georgia, which ended in a 40-9 victory for the Boks.

It was their first match since winning the World Cup in November 2019.

The first Test with the Lions is due to take place on July 24 in Cape Town, before moving to Johannesburg for the second and third matches.

The British and Irish Lions are focused on delivering a strong showing against the Sharks on Wednesday rather than uncertainty over their schedule due to the coronavirus.

Warren Gatland's side thrashed Johannesburg's own Lions 56-14 in their opening tour match at Ellis Park on Saturday, Josh Adams helping himself to a four-try haul.

Tom Curry, Josh Navidi and Adam Beard will now make their Lions debuts, while Iain Henderson takes over as captain for a midweek showdown with the Sharks at the same venue.

Sam Simmonds comes in for his first international start in over three years, but it is once again COVID-19 cases rather than selection that has dominated the pre-match talk.

The Springboks suspended training on Monday after Lood de Jager tested positive for the virus, with the players forced back into isolation.

Positive cases in the Bulls camp have put Saturday's match in doubt, but Lions defence coach Steve Tandy said they are taking a flexible approach.

"We'd weigh up if we need to give the boys a day off, if we need an internal match or a heavier loaded contact day," Tandy said when asked about plans if the Bulls game is called off.

"Through COVID, I think you learn you need to adapt. You can have the best laid plans, but things move really quickly and change - it's just be prepared for whatever comes our way at whatever moment in time. Whatever the group needs, more contact, an extra day off for recovery - we'll just adapt that as we go."

Phepsi Buthelezi returns t0 lead the Sharks at number eight, while Khutha Mchunu takes Wiehahn Herbst's place in the front row.

 

SIMMONDS DETERMINED TO GRASP HIS CHANCE

Simmonds has continued to be overlooked by England head coach Eddie Jones despite producing consistently outstanding performances for Exeter Chiefs.

The number eight, comfortably the leading try-scorer in the Premiership last season with 21, is determined to show he belongs on the Test stage.

"When you are starting you really get the opportunity to show what you can do and hopefully put what I have been doing in the last year or so into a Lions jersey," Simmonds said.

"As soon as I got selected for the Lions squad that was my sole focus – to push everyone here, to push to try and get as many games as I can and as a team the ultimate goal is to win the Test series in South Africa."

 

 

GATLAND WANTS BACK ROW TO PUT ON SHOW

New Zealander Gatland is excited to see what the back row he has selected can serve up in the second tour match.

"There's a huge amount of competition in the back row and I spoke to them all last night and just said, 'Look, you've got a licence from me to get your hands on the ball'," coach Gatland said.

"I want them to express themselves. I said they are probably not renowned as lineout experts but you have to play to your strengths, and they are strong defenders and great ball carriers.

"It's a different aspect to look at, but it's exciting and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go as a trio. If you look at those players they are strong defenders, exciting ball carriers."

 

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson (captain), Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry, Sam Simmonds.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris.

 

Sharks: Manie Libbok, Werner Kok, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Thaakir Abrahams, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Khwezi Mona, Fez Mbatha, Khutha Mchunu, Ruben van Heerden, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Thembelani Bholi, Phepsi Buthelezi (captain).

Replacements: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Wiehahn Herbst, JJ van der Mescht, Reniel Hugo, Dylan Richardson, Grant Williams, Anthony Volmink.

 

Key Opta facts

- The Sharks and the Lions met in 2009, with the tourists winning that match 39-3. Lee Mears, Mike Phillips, Luke Fitzgerald, Lee Byrne and Jamie Heaslip all crossed for tries.
- The Lions have won 10 of their 11 fixtures against the Sharks/Natal, the exception being a 3-3 draw back on the 1924 tour.
- The Sharks had a 50 per cent win rate in the recently concluded Rainbow Cup SA (W3, L3), beating the Johannesburg-based Lions twice and the Stormers once.
- Following their victory over the Lions, the tourists are now unbeaten in their past five matches (W3, D2). That is their best run since winning six in a row in a run that spanned the 2009 and 2013 tours.
- The Lions are yet to miss a kick at goal so far in 2021, with Dan Biggar having slotted four from four and Owen Farrell landing all eight.

England have named nine uncapped players in a new ODI squad for the series against Pakistan following a coronavirus outbreak in the initial party.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed three players and four members of the management team returned positive tests in Bristol on Monday and will observe a period of self-isolation.

Due to being deemed as close contacts, the remaining members of the ODI party must also isolate.

The selectors were forced to pick a new squad two days before the first match at Lord's, with Ben Stokes returning to captain the side and Chris Silverwood back from a break to replace Paul Collingwood as head coach.

Test duo Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence got the nod along with fellow batsmen Will Jacks, Phil Salt and all-rounder Lewis Gregory.

Brydon Carse, Tom Helm, John Simpson and David Payne could also make their ODI debuts.

Dawid Malan and James Vince, who was among the players pulled out of ongoing County Championship matches for unexpected England duty, were also named in the squad.

Incoming squad and support team members will follow PCR tests and bridging protocols to ensure safe entry to camp.

Managing director of England men's cricket, Ashley Giles, said: "It's a great opportunity to play on the biggest stage, and for most of the players selected it's not necessarily something they would have been expecting 24 hours ago.

"It's an exciting group of players, with some young talent and some players who have impressed at domestic level over a long period of time.

"We're in unprecedented territory, in terms of replacing an entire squad and management team, and I'm very proud of how everyone has come together in order to get it done – both those within the ECB and from the county game.

"Ben hasn't captained our ODI side before so it's a huge honour for him. We all wish him well and it's a role I'm sure he'll thrive in.

"I'd like to also put on record the thanks of the ECB to the PCB for their support and understanding during this time."

 

England squad:

Ben Stokes (captain) Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Lewis Gregory, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, David Payne, Phil Salt, John Simpson, James Vince.

England have been forced to name a new squad to face Pakistan after seven members of the ODI party tested positive for coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed three players and four members of the management team returned positive tests in Bristol on Monday and will observe a period of self-isolation.

Due to being deemed as close contacts, the remaining members of the ODI party must also isolate.

The ECB confirmed both the T20 and ODIs against Pakistan will go ahead, with the fit-again Ben Stokes returning to captain the side and a squad will be announced later on Tuesday.

Incoming squad and support team members will follow PCR tests and bridging protocols to ensure safe entry to camp.

pic.twitter.com/p3SKcSJNN1

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 6, 2021

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "We have been mindful that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak.

"We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall wellbeing of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions.

"Overnight we have worked swiftly to identify a new squad, and we are grateful to Ben Stokes who will return to England duties to captain.

"We also recognise the impact this news will have on our First Class Counties and their men's playing squads and thank them."

England secured a 2-0 ODI series win over Sri Lanka, with no result possible in the final match in Bristol on Sunday due to rain.

 

Fans of Formula One and MotoGP will not be able to witness the Australian Grand Prix after both 2021 events were cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

F1's Australian GP was scheduled to take place at Albert Park from November 18-21 in Melbourne after the 2020 race was called off due to COVID-19, while the MotoGP meet at Phillip Island was set for October 24.

However, both races have been scrapped for the second successive year because of restrictions and logistical challenges relating to the ongoing pandemic.

With the Australian GP removed from MotoGP's calendar, the Grande Premio do Algarve has been added for November 5-7, with the Malaysia GP brought forward a week to October 22-24.

"We're deeply disappointed that for a second consecutive year, both MotoGP and Formula 1 fans won’t be able to see the world’s best riders and drivers compete at the wonderful Phillip Island and Albert Park Grand Prix Circuits," said Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chairman Paul Little on Tuesday.

"We appreciate the challenge Australia faces with current international travel restrictions and the importance of vaccinations.

"I would like to reassure our motivated and professional staff, suppliers and partners, as well as the Victorian tourism and major events community that we will work tirelessly to deliver these iconic events in 2022."

F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali said: "While it is disappointing we won't be racing in Australia this season, we are confident we can deliver a 23-race season in 2021 and we have a number of options to take forward to replace the place left vacant by the Australian Grand Prix.

"We will be working through the details of those options in the coming weeks and will provide further updates once those discussions are concluded."

"The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of the Red Bull Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix," MotoGP said a statement. "The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel complications and logistical restrictions mean it has not been possible to confirm the viability of the event at this time, and it will therefore not feature on the 2021 calendar.

"The FIM MotoGP World Championship looks forward to returning to race in front of the Australian fans at the spectacular Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in 2022."

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