Soccer in England suspended until April 30

LONDON – The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on sports around the world (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

Soccer in England will stay suspended until at least April 30 because of the coronavirus outbreak and the season could be finished in June.

The Football Association and Premier League say they have agreed to extend the suspension from April 4 to April 30. The FA board has waived a regulation which would normally oblige leagues to finish by June 1.

That means the English leagues can continue playing in space that opened up when UEFA postponed the European Championship to 2021.

The FA, Premier League and English Football League say they are “united in their commitment” that the season should be resumed.

11 a.m.

The International Weightlifting Federation says it has changed its Olympic qualifying criteria in response to the coronavirus outbreak but won’t say how the new system works.

Olympic qualifying in dozens of sports has been thrown into chaos as continental championships around the world have been postponed.

The IWF says it has drawn up a replacement set of qualifying rules and submitted them to the International Olympic Committee but it won’t tell athletes or national federations about the changes until the IOC signs off on the plan.

The IWF says it has ruled out extending the qualifying period beyond April 30. That means any rescheduled continental championships won’t count.

Weightlifting’s long-standing problems with doping caused the IWF to demand top lifters competed more regularly at international events to be eligible for the Olympics – and to be subject to more doping tests. They were required to compete at least once between November and April.

10:45 a.m.

Players from German soccer club Borussia Mönchengladbach have accepted pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says the players approached the club with an offer of voluntary pay cuts, and the coaching staff, directors and executives have joined in.

Eberl says “I am very proud of the boys. A clear signal: we are standing together for Borussia in good and bad times.”

Gladbach is fourth in the German league and was on course to qualify for a spot in next season’s Champions League. Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers says the club and Bundesliga are in their toughest financial situation in more than 20 years because of lost revenue from tickets, TV and sponsorship.

Gladbach played a game last week in an empty stadium. The club estimated it lost about 2 million euros ($2.16 million) in revenue by playing without fans.

In Scotland, Hearts has asked all its players and other full-time employees to accept a 50 percent pay cut, or contract termination.

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Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou dressed as an ancient Greek high priestess lights the Olympic torch as choreographer Artemis Ignatiou looks on during the olympic flame handover ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, in Athens, Thursday March 19, 2020. Photo: Aris Messinis/Pool via AP

10:30 a.m.

The Olympic flame has been handed over, by proxy, to Tokyo organizers in Athens.

The coronavirus outbreak forced a bare-bones version of the usual elaborate ceremony in the stadium where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896.

The 80,000-seat marble stadium was empty apart from a handful of officials and participants. The Japanese delegation was absent because of travel restrictions and Tokyo organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori delivered a speech by video from Japan. But his message was upbeat.

Mori says “I hereby pledge that on 24 July this flame will be lit at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.”

Greek Olympic committee president Spyros Kapralos handed over the flame to a Japanese Unicef official in Athens and former Olympic swimmer Naoko Imoto. It was then headed for the airport to board the flight for Japan.

Associated Press (AP)

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