Tuesday Sports in Brief

OLYMPICS

Not even the Summer Olympics could withstand the force of the coronavirus. After weeks of hedging, the IOC took the unprecedented step of postponing the world’s biggest sporting event, a global extravaganza that’s been cemented into the calendar for more than a century.

The Tokyo Games, slated for 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries and at a reported cost of $28 billion, had been scheduled to start July 24. They will now be pushed into 2021 on dates to be determined.

They will still be called the 2020 Olympics — a symbolic gesture that the International Olympic Committee hopes will allow the games to “stand as a beacon of hope,” as it stated in delivering the news Tuesday.

Only World War I and World War II have forced the Olympics to be canceled; they were scrubbed in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

TOKYO (AP) — The Olympic torch relay was postponed Tuesday because the Tokyo Games themselves were pushed back to 2021.

Organizers had planned to go ahead with the relay, starting Thursday, despite the spreading coronavirus pandemic. But shortly after the International Olympic Committee officially postponed the games, the president of the organizing committee said the relay would not go ahead.

“For the time being, the flame will be stored and displayed in Fukushima,” Yoshiro Mori said.

The relay was expected to start in northeastern Fukushima prefecture with no torch, no torchbearers and no public.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant spent the season transforming Dayton from an unranked team that wasn’t even picked to win its conference into one of the nation’s best, complete with the most wins in program history.

The pair behind the Flyers‘ remarkable rise claimed The Associated Press’ top individual honors: Toppin is the men’s college basketball player of the year and Grant is the coach of the year.

Indeed. Dayton (29-2) went from being picked to finish third in the Atlantic 10 to No. 3 in the final Top 25 poll, matching the program’s best poll finish, first set in 1956. The Flyers went unbeaten in league play and in road games, leaving them positioned to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament that was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Now Dayton has its first winners of the AP’s top awards, joining St. Joseph’s in 2004 (with Jameer Nelson and coach Phil Martelli) as the only programs in the past 40 seasons to claim both in the same year.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Toppin followed his unanimous selection to the AP All-America first team by appearing on 34 of 65 ballots from Top 25 voters, who submitted ballots after the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament.

NHL

The NHL is extending its recommendation for players and staff to self-isolate and stay away from team facilities during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Multiple people with knowledge of the recommendation told The Associated Press on Tuesday the NHL has asked that players and staff extend their self-quarantine 10 days beyond the original March 27 timeline to April 6 — further pushing back the earliest team facilities can reopen. The people spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the the NHL hadn’t formally announced the change in protocol.

The league over the past two days has held conference calls with its Board of Governors and general managers to update them on and take questions regarding the current situation. There is still no clarity on when the NHL might resume its season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently the decision to resume play would be made in accordance with health officials. He has also said the league is working on various scenarios about what a potential return to play could look like.

The NHL plans to stage a full 2020-21 season, even if it means starting as late as November.

—By Hockey Writers Stephen Whyno and John Wawrow.

NFL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers released 30-year-old quarterback Cam Newton after nine seasons.

The move became a mere formality after the Panthers made it clear last week they were moving on from Newton by giving him permission to seek a trade and then agreeing to a three-year, $63 million contract with free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater about 90 minutes later.

On Monday night, Newton posted on his Instagram account that he was “hungrier” now because he is “unemployed.”

The breakup did not end well.

After the Panthers announced Newton was free to seek a trade, the QB took to Twitter, posting a message directed at the front office that read, “Stop the word play!! I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one; I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this: You forced me into this.”

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers have updated their logo and unveiled new logotype ahead of their move into their new home.

The franchise is keeping the lightning bolt as its primary logo, but it has become sleeker and streamlined. There is not as much of a curve to the bolt, while navy blue has been removed as one of the colors. Powder blue and sunshine gold remain as the predominant colors.

The Chargers have also added a bolt to the “A” in their nickname in the logotype. The font is more italicized and has been made bolder.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has a torn elbow ligament and needs Tommy John surgery that will keep him out of action this year.

New York medical director Dr. David Altchek will operate Thursday.

The right-hander received a second opinion on the damaged ulnar collateral ligament from Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Opening day has been postponed until at least mid-May because of the virus outbreak.

Nicknamed Thor, Syndergaard was the No. 2 starter in a strong rotation behind two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. New York has for now sufficient starters to make up for Syndergaard’s absence, with Marcus Stroman, Michael Wacha, Rick Porcello and Steven Matz.

BOSTON (AP) — A minor league player for the Boston Red Sox has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the team to close down its training complex in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Red Sox made the announcement Tuesday, a day after the positive diagnosis. The team didn’t identify the player, but said he was doing well.

Earlier this month, the New York Yankees said two of its minor leaguers had the virus. Those were the first two players affiliated with a big league organization known to test positive.

Major League Baseball has postponed opening day until at least mid-May because of the virus outbreak.

The Red Sox said their affected player was most recently at the spring training site on March 15. Boston said based on the timing of his test, it believed he most likely got the virus after leaving Fort Myers.

The Fenway South/JetBlue Park complex was closed Tuesday for at least two weeks and will undergo a “deep cleaning.”

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for $400 million, clearing the way for the billionaire to build a new arena down the street in Inglewood, California.

Ballmer announced the purchase of the venerated arena from the Madison Square Garden Company on Tuesday.

Ballmer, the former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the cash purchase through a newly formed corporation that will continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue.

Ballmer has been fighting with MSG over his desire to build a state-of-the-art home for the Clippers just a few blocks away from the Forum. MSG, fearing competition for concerts and other big events, has sued the Clippers in an attempt to stop Ballmer’s plan.

The purchase abruptly wraps up the litigation fight and allows the Clippers to move ahead on their goal to open a new arena when their Staples Center lease expires in 2024.

NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR informed its staff Tuesday that pay cuts will be imposed across the company until the series returns to racing.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced the moves in a memo to employees, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press from a person who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The memo said series executives, including the presidents of NASCAR-owned tracks, will see a 25% reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salary reduced by 20%. Budget expenses and capital improvements have also been frozen, and employees were told to use one week of vacation over the next five weeks.

SOCCER

The newly installed president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation used their first news conference to state that settling a lawsuit filed by women’s national team players is a top priority.

“A lot of damage has been done, and I think we are going to have to rebuild that trust and rebuild the relationship. It is not going to happen overnight,” President Cindy Parlow Cone said Tuesday.

Players claim they have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A trial is scheduled for May 5 in federal court in Los Angeles.

“The solution here is clear, simple, and unequivocal: equal pay,” responded Molly Levinson, spokeswomen for the players.

In legal papers filed this month ahead of the trial, the USSF claimed the women’s team didn’t have the physical abilities or the same responsibilities as the men’s team.

OBITUARY

Lee Green, a defensive standout who played on two NCAA Tournament teams for St. John’s, has died. He was 49.

The Big East Conference school announced the death on Tuesday without identifying a cause. The New York Post quoted former teammate and friend Lamont Middleton in reporting Green’s death was related to the coronavirus.

A New York City native, Green Green played for St. John’s from 1991-94, playing his first season under Lou Carnesecca and his final two for Brian Mahoney. He averaged 2.3 points.

Green maintained a close relationship with the program over the years, attending games as recently as this past season.

Current coach Mike Anderson called Green’s death a loss for the St. John’s family.