The Chicago Bulls will be without DeMar DeRozan against the Denver Nuggets on Monday after the star entered the NBA's health and safety protocols.

DeRozan is the third Bulls player to go through the league's COVID-19 protocols, joining team-mates Coby White and Javonte Green.

It remains to be seen how long four-time All-Star DeRozan will be sidelined in Chicago, where the new-look Bulls (16-8) have made a strong start to the season.

DeRozan has fuelled the Bulls, earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honours having averaged 30.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 58.7 per cent from the field.

Entering Monday's play, DeRozan – who leads the league in points (633) – has been averaging 26.4 points per game, his best mark since the 2016-17 season.

DeRozan has also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists, while shooting 49.8 per cent from the field and 33.3 per cent from three-point range – the 32-year-old only managed better in 2015-16 (33.8).

Chicago defeated the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets 111-107 on Saturday while outscoring their opponents 32-25 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls are averaging 28.3 points in the fourth quarter this season, the most in the NBA, according to Stats Perform.

Against the Nets, Zach LaVine poured in 31 points while DeRozan scored 29. This season, the Bulls are 9-2 when both players score at least 25 points and 7-6 when only one or neither hit that mark.

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the fifth and final Ashes Test scheduled to be played in Perth has been relocated due to Western Australia's border strictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ashes showdown between Australia and tourists England was set to be staged at Perth's Optus Stadium from January 14-18, however, the state's strict travel strictions has forced the series finale to be moved.

While CA announced the relocation of the Perth Test on Monday, no new host has been confirmed, with Hobart among the possible locations.

Melbourne – the scene for the Boxing Day Test – and Sydney, which will host the fourth Test, have been floated as possible new host venues for the Test match.

Under Western Australia's current border rules, visitors from New South Wales – where the fourth Test is due to take place from January 5-9 – must complete 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

Talks between CA and the WA state government had seemed to be heading in a positive direction last month, with a potentially shorter and more relaxed quarantine period for players, their families and match and broadcast staff, but the emergence of the Omicron variant has reaffirmed the state's hardline stance on borders.

"While absolutely every effort was made to ensure the final Test match of the series could be staged in Perth, border controls, quarantine requirements and the complexities of staging a five-Test series in a tight schedule have meant it is unfortunately not possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, CA and WA Cricket," CA said in a statement.

WA Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti had publicly spoken about a proposal to shift the order of the Tests, with Perth replacing the second Test in Adelaide starting December 16 – given borders remain open between WA and Queensland where the first Test will be held – but CA closed the door on that idea.

"These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible," the statement said. "Discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Test match are underway."

The decision is a major blow for WA Cricket and Perth, which missed out on a Test match during the last Australian summer following the postponement of a one-off game against Afghanistan.

WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews said: "We are extremely disappointed for our Members, fans, Commercial Partners and the wider WA cricket community as well as all our staff and players who have been looking forward to and planning for the first ever Ashes to be played at Perth Stadium.

"We've been working closely and constructively with the WA Government and Cricket Australia for many months to bring this fixture to Perth amid the pandemic-related challenges we've faced.

"While this decision is very difficult to accept, the complexity of staging the Test in the face of strict border controls and quarantine requirements has resulted in it not being possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, Cricket Australia, and WA Cricket."

The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on Wednesday.

LeBron James says he was left "confused, frustrated and angry" at the NBA's handling of his false positive test that forced him to miss his side's 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings.

James returned in Friday's 119-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers having cleared the league's COVID-19 protocols after additional testing confirmed he was not a positive case.

The four-time MVP and NBA champion, however, was left frustrated by the process that cost him a game and caused him "big-time inconvenience", having recorded a positive test prior to Tuesday's game in Sacramento.

"Pretty confused, frustrated, angry with not being able to do anything," James said at the post-game news conference.

James, 36, explained his anger was that he had initially tested negative, before a positive test, which led to immediate isolation rather than a further test to confirm his status.

"Usually when you have a positive test, they will test you right away to make sure," James said. "There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight into isolation and you've been put into protocol. That was the part that angered me.

"I had to figure out a way to get back from Sacramento by myself, no security, no one. I had to put my kids in isolation for the time being. The people in my house into isolation. It was a big- time inconvenience. That was the anger part."

James added that he always knew he was not COVID-19 positive, having no symptoms, further fuelling his frustration at the process.

"I knew I was going to get cleared," he said. "I never felt sick at all. I know you can be asymptomatic but if what I had was a positive COVID test, then what are we doing? What are we talking about?

"I thought it was handled very poorly. Being able to get cleared was a breath of fresh air for me, my family and friends."

James has not been able to play four straight games this season due to a range of issues including ankle and abdominal injuries along with a one-game suspension and his false-positive test.

The Lakers forward admitted the season had been "very frustrating" and "very challenging" as he struggled to find a rhythm.

James, who returned with 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against the Clippers, has played 11 games this season, averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

The Lakers are 12-12 following Friday's loss.

Bayern Munich will play the remainder of their home matches this year behind closed doors due to rising coronavirus rates in Bavaria.

Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Soder revealed earlier this week that fans were set to be prevented from attending games "for the foreseeable future".

The Bavarian government on Friday approved increased measures in an attempt to contain the pandemic, including bans on spectators at large, cross-region sporting events until the end of the year.

Bayern will face Barcelona in their final Champions League Group E match next Wednesday without fans.

The Bundesliga leaders, already assured of a place in the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition, will then take on Mainz on December 11 and Wolfsburg six days later behind closed doors before the mid-season hiatus.

Bayern vice-chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen said: "It's a big blow to have to play in front of empty stands at the Allianz Arena again.

"Football is only half as nice without our fans in the stadium, not to mention the financial effects.

"We must of course accept the decision as it is, even though we've done everything we could for the health of our visitors at the Allianz Arena with the 2G+ rule and our hygiene concept."

Augsburg and Greuther Furth will also be affected, while similar measures have been introduced in neighbouring Baden-Wurttemberg, with Freiburg, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim seeing capacities reduced to 750 spectators.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has been cleared to play by the NBA after returning two negative COVID-19 tests.

James entered the NBA's health and safety protocols on Tuesday, sitting out the 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings due to a positive coronavirus test.

But James cleared the league's COVID protocols after additional testing confirmed the four-time champion and MVP was not a positive case.

"Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols," the league said in a statement on Thursday.

"James was originally placed in the Protocols on Tuesday, November 30 after a series of tests delivered conflicting results, including an initial positive test that was collected on November 29. Additional testing confirmed that he is not a positive case.

"In accordance with the Protocols, and the consistent testing practice that has been in place since the 2019-20 Season Restart in Orlando, the sample that produced the initial positive test was re-run twice and returned one negative and one positive result on two different PCR instruments.

"As a result, James underwent additional testing on November 30, with one test returning a negative result and a second test resulting in a clinically inconclusive result."

It is a boost for the Lakers (12-11) ahead of Friday's showdown with crosstown rivals the Los Angeles Clippers (11-11).

James has been averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Lakers, while shooting 48.4 per cent from the field and 34.4 from three-point range.

Bundesliga fixtures will see stadiums capped at 15,000 spectators from this weekend in a bid to tackle rising coronavirus cases in Germany.

On Thursday, 73,000 new infections and 388 deaths were reported in the country, with a fourth wave threatening to overwhelm intensive care units.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her soon-to-be successor Olaf Scholz have consequently reached agreement with the leaders of Germany's 16 states to reintroduce preventative measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

One of the rules means Bundesliga matches, which have been operating with near-capacity crowds this season, will be restricted to 50 per cent attendance with a maximum of 15,000.

The reintroduction of measures impacts Saturday's Klassiker clash between leaders Bayern Munich and second-place Borussia Dortmund taking place at Signal Iduna Park. Only one point separates the teams at the top of the table.

German Football League (DFL) chief Christian Seifert said the governing body can understand why the rules have been put in place.

"The DFL is aware of the currently difficult corona situation, especially with a view to the strain on some regional health systems," he said via a DFL statement.

"It is regrettable that, due to the pandemic situation and the still too low vaccination rate in Germany, restrictions in many areas of life are once again necessary.

"In this situation, a differentiated, comprehensible, but above all effective policy strategy is required.

"A temporary restriction on the admission of fans to the stadiums is therefore understandable. The DFL hopes that this decision by the federal and state governments will lay the foundation for a rapid improvement in the pandemic situation.

"The DFL and its clubs will of course continue to support all vaccination effort."

Bayern Munich are set to play home matches behind closed doors "for the foreseeable future" due to rising coronavirus infection rates.

Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in Bavaria at the weekend.

As of Monday, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in the southern German state stood at 12,304.

Government officials are scheduled to meet on Thursday to decide on new restrictions for the country in an attempt to halt the spread of the respiratory illness.

The state of Saxony has already stopped supporters from attending matches and Bavaria will now do likewise, regardless of the outcome of Thursday's meeting.

Speaking on Tuesday, Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Soder told state broadcaster BR: "When Christmas markets are closed, it is not appropriate to have full stadiums."

"It makes no sense for the foreseeable future to admit viewers again. It is an important demand that we decide today that we will no longer allow viewers in the future. 

"If that doesn't work at the federal level, we would do it for Bavaria alone."

Soder later used Twitter to justify his comments, posting: "The high mobility when travelling to and from the club is currently irresponsible. 

"Football is a great role model. We now have to reduce contacts everywhere."

No timeline was set by Soder, but Bayern do not play at the Allianz Arena again until Barcelona visit in the final round of Champions League matches on December 8.

The Bundesliga champions then host Mainz in the league three days later and Wolfsburg on December 17 in their final game before the mid-season hiatus.

Fellow Bavarian Bundesliga sides Augsburg and Greuther Furth would also be affected by the measures.

Portugal's national health institute, INSA, has reported 13 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 at Belenenses SAD.

B-SAD were forced to face Benfica on Saturday with just nine players - including two goalkeepers - after positive tests for 13 members of the squad.

Benfica went into half-time 7-0 up and B-SAD were forced to forfeit shortly after the restart due to insufficient players as injuries reduced the hosts - who were without any substitutes - to six men.

Among the B-SAD players to miss out was Cafu Phete, who had recently spent time in South Africa - where the Omicron variant was first detected - and it now appears that he and the other 12 members of the squad have tested positive for this new strain of coronavirus. 

"Preliminary tests carried out at INSA strongly suggest that all 13 cases associated with players of Belenenses SAD are linked to the variant of concern Omicron," INSA's statement to Publico read.

"The predictive value of the tests carried out is already very high."

Benfica's players are set to be tested as Portuguese authorities respond to the Omicron variant being found inside the country's borders.

"We'll have more proactive isolation and a more intensive testing of contacts," Graca Freitas - Portugal's Director-General for Health - told TSF. 

Flights into Portugal from Mozambique have now been banned, while two positive cases were discovered among the 218 people to have arrived on the last such flight on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play at the Australian Open in January unless COVID-19 vaccination rules are relaxed, according to the player's father.

Organisers recently confirmed that players must be vaccinated against coronavirus to compete in the tournament, which begins on January 17.

World number one Djokovic, who won a record ninth title in Melbourne last year, has not publicly stated whether he has had the jab.

Srdjan Djokovic told Serbia's TV Prva that being vaccinated is a personal choice, and that Tennis Australia's rules are essentially "blackmail".

"As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not," he was quoted as saying by news website B92.

"No one has the right to enter into our intimacy, it is guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone has the right to decide on their health.

"Whether [Novak] is vaccinated or not, that is his exclusive right. Will he publish it, I don't think so. I don't know that decision either, and if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants."

When asked about Djokovic's decision to play in Australia, his father added: "Whether he will appear there depends on how [the organisers] position themselves. He would want it with all his heart because he's an athlete, and we would love that too.

"Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't. I wouldn't do that. And he's my son, so you decide for yourself."

Djokovic, who is tied on 20 major singles titles with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, recently said he was unsure of his participation following his appearance at the ATP Finals in Turin.

"I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be and now that I know we'll just have to wait and see," he said.

Portugal's Primeira Liga was the laughingstock of Europe on Saturday due to the farcical scenes that took place in Benfica's trip to coronavirus-ravaged Belenenses SAD, a game that was ultimately forfeited by the hosts.

B-SAD, a controversial offshoot of historic club Belenenses, were plunged into crisis this week when 13 of their players tested positive for coronavirus – among them was Cafu Phete, who had recently been in South Africa, where the new Omicron variant of the virus was first detected.

Despite the depleted nature of their squad, club president Rui Pedro Soares confirmed earlier in the day they had not asked Benfica to postpone the fixture, seemingly to the dismay of players who published coordinated messages to social media as the match kicked off in Oeiras, Lisbon.

The statement read: "Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart."

B-SAD started the match with just nine players on the pitch, many of whom were members of their Under-23s side, and that included goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing in defence.

Benfica were ahead inside 24 seconds thanks to an own goal by Eduardo Kau; while the visitors did not score again until the 14th minute, the writing was on the wall.

They were 7-0 up at half-time thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick, Haris Seferovic brace and a solitary Julian Weigl goal.

"What is this? Am I the only one who doesn't understand why the game hasn't been postponed?" asked former Benfica player Bernardo Silva on Twitter.

B-SAD did return to the pitch for the second half but with only seven players, and as soon as the game resumed, the hosts put the ball into touch and another player dropped to the turf citing an injury.

The referee called a halt to the game due to B-SAD running out of players, with teams required to have a minimum of seven on the pitch.

It has not been confirmed whether Benfica will be awarded just a 3-0 win, as is standard for a forfeiture, or take the full 7-0 scoreline.

South Africa and Netherlands could abandon their three-match ODI series without a match being completed as escalating COVID-19 concerns coincided with a rain abandonment on Friday.

Worries about an emerging strand of the coronavirus have caused a number of countries, including the Netherlands, to halt incoming flights from South Africa.

The Dutch cricket board – the KNCB – has held discussions with Cricket South Africa (CSA) about prospects for the scheduled second and third matches in their series going ahead on Sunday and Wednesday, promising a swift decision.

The first game at SuperSport Park in Centurion fell victim to the weather on Friday, with South Africa totting up 277-8 before Netherlands were halted at 11-0 in their reply as rain fell.

Centurion is located in Gauteng Province, which is where a large proportion of cases of the new COVID-19 strand have been detected. SuperSport Park is also due to stage the second and third games in the series.

In a joint statement, both boards said: "Cricket South Africa and Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond are aware of news reports doing the rounds regarding the Netherlands tour to South Africa being cancelled or postponed.

"Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa before their scheduled flight. The KNCB is reviewing all of its options, while prioritising the physical and mental well-being of its players.

"A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered."

Kyle Verreynne anchored South Africa's innings in the opening ODI, coming in at 24-2 and going on to make 95 from 112 deliveries.

Janneman Malan (16) and Reeza Hendricks (6) faltered at the top of the order as both fell to Fred Klaassen (2-45), but Verreynne and Zubayr Hamza (56) put on 119 for the third wicket.

A top-edged pull from Hamza off Brandon Glover saw Scott Edwards take an easy catch to break up that alliance, and Verreynne was one big hit away from a maiden international century when he flogged a full toss from Vivian Kingma to Bas de Leede on the deep square leg boundary.

Andile Phehlukwayo flayed the Dutch attack for 48 from 22 balls, hitting six sixes before Glover improved his expensive figures slightly to 2-70 by bowling the all-rounder with the final ball of the innings.

Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala will be back in the Bayern Munich squad to face Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday but Marcel Sabitzer is facing a spell on the sidelines.

Bayern have been hard hit by coronavirus, but Julian Nagelsmann revealed Gnabry, Musiala and Michael Cuisance will come out of quarantine on Friday.

The trio have been cleared to return after testing negative, but will not be considered to start.

Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic have stepped up their recovery from COVID-19 in training this week, but neither will start the Bundesliga encounter this weekend.

Joshua Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remain in isolation after they contracted the virus.

Kimmich has come in for criticism for not taking the vaccine, but Nagelsmann has sympathy for the Germany midfielder.

Nagelsmann said in a press conference on Friday: "I have a lot of contact with him. He is extremely ambitious. It is a burden for him that he cannot play."

The Bayern boss revealed Sabitzer will be out for "a few weeks" due to a calf injury, while Tanguy Nianzou misses Bielefeld's visit to the Allianz Arena due to a torn ligament in his shoulder.

Leaders Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Augsburg last Friday before beating Dinamo Kiev by the same scoreline in the Champions League.

Bielefeld are second-bottom of the table with only one win this season, but Nagelsmann says they must not be taken lightly. 

"Bielefeld have shown a clear improvement to last year. Masaya Okugawa is playing very well, has a lot of confidence on the ball and is versatile. They have a strong shape and always look to play deep.

"I know their coach [Frank Kramer]. Arminia have grown in terms of their physicality and the way in which they play. There are some parallels that can be drawn with Augsburg. It's a very important game for us."

Eddie Howe is set for his first Newcastle United game in the dugout after returning a negative COVID-19 test before the trip to Arsenal.

Former Bournemouth manager Howe was named Newcastle's new head coach on November 8, the first appointment by the Magpies following the club's Saudi-backed takeover.

However, Howe was forced to isolate after returning a positive coronavirus test, leaving Newcastle without their manager on the sideline for the first Premier League game of his tenure at home to Brentford.

Jason Tindall, Howe's assistant manager, and Graeme Jones, the previous interim coach after Steve Bruce's dismissal, led the team in that 3-3 draw, but Newcastle have confirmed Howe will be on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Asked about Howe's return, Tindall told reporters on Friday: "You want your manager here with you. 

"We've missed him as a group of staff and I'm sure the players have missed seeing him at the training ground. We're certainly looking forward to having him back.

"Eddie has seen training back every day. We film it and that will then be sent to him in the afternoon to review it back, as will we as coaches. Then we will feed back what's necessary to the players the following day."

 Newcastle sit bottom of the league as the only side still without a win across England's top four tiers – their current winless run of 12 top-flight games is their longest since a run of 13 between December 2007 and March 2008.

No side have conceded more than Howe's new team in the Premier League this season (27), while the Magpies have lost 16 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Arsenal.

Bayern Munich confirmed on Wednesday that Joshua Kimmich has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Germany star, who has stated he is unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until more is known about possible long-term effects, missed Bayern's matches against Augsburg and Dynamo Kiev after being deemed a close contact of someone with the virus.

"Joshua Kimmich is self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19. The FC Bayern midfielder is doing well," the Bundesliga champions said in a short statement.

The club previously announced forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had also returned a positive test and could continue isolating at home.

The 32-year-old had already quarantined along with Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance amid concerns about possible infection.

It was reported by Bild last week that any Bayern players who were forced to isolate having not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 would have their pay withheld for the duration of their absence from first-team duties.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann had insisted he did not fear any such measures could cause friction within the squad.

Germany boss Hansi Flick told reporters he expected Kimmich to receive his vaccine when possible and defended the player from criticism.

"I think that it is going in this direction. We talked and I think it was a very good conversation. Now we have to wait and see," he said when asked if Kimmich would get the jab.

"Jo Kimmich is not to blame for the high number of infections. I don't think it's good that he is being pilloried in this way. It's not that easy for young people to deal with something like that."

Germany has recently seen a spike in coronavirus infections, with nearly 67,000 recorded on Wednesday, a record daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

The return of restrictions to halt the spread of the virus have been considered, while public spaces in some states have already introduced rules limiting access only to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has tested positive for coronavirus.

Choupo-Moting had already been self-isolating, along with team-mates Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance, after coming into contact with a person who had contracted the respiratory illness.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern confirmed on their official website on Wednesday that the 32-year-old has also now tested positive and will continue to quarantine.

"Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has tested positive for COVID-19," the statement read. 

"The FC Bayern forward is self-isolating at home in accordance with the relevant health authorities and doing well under the circumstances."

German media outlet Bild reported last week that Bayern have told players they will have their pay withheld for time missed in quarantine if they have not been fully vaccinated.

Choupo-Moting, who has made 11 of his 12 appearances for the German champions this season from the bench, is reported to be among those yet to receive both doses.

However, speaking on Monday, head coach Julian Nagelsmann insisted he does not see the issue of players potentially going unpaid causing any friction in the camp.

"It's always a group's distinction that you don't always agree," he said.

"In a functioning team, however, everyone has to be there for everyone. I don't think it will break the team, we have to grow from it. 

"By not vaccinating, they are more likely to fail. But we have to be there for each other, we should grow from that.

"You often have conversations, if the person is positive, you have to be in quarantine as an unvaccinated person.

"The players are doing fine though, they are being tested. Josh could return earlier than the others because he was quarantined earlier."

In better news for Bayern, Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic returned to individual training on Wednesday after completing their own periods of self-isolation.

Dayot Upamecano also took part in training a day on from missing Bayern's 2-1 Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev that clinched top spot in Group E.

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