Wednesday Sports in Brief

TENNIS

Wimbledon was canceled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.

Britain imposed a nationwide lockdown just over a week ago, and the All England Club announced after a two-day emergency meeting that the event it refers to simply as The Championships is being scrapped for 2020. That hadn’t happened since 1945.

Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.

Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.

NFL

The NFL players’ union says changes made to the labor agreement players narrowly approved last month “reflects no substantive difference whatsoever,” a claim the lawyers for free-agent safety Eric Reid dispute.

The NFLPA added that Reid’s claim that the CBA isn’t valid is “completely false.”

Ben Meiselas, who represents Reid, believes the changes regarding filing for Social Security disability payments should invalidate the collective bargaining agreement set to run through 2030. And he points to the last paragraph of a memo sent to the players Wednesday that describes the alterations made as proof the CBA now in force is not the full document the players voted on.

“It is correct that the final version of the 456-page CBA includes an additional subparagraph with a cross-reference to a section of the Disability Plan that the parties had inadvertently omitted in an earlier version,” the NFL Players Association memo says.

Meiselas vehemently disagrees, saying the change could affect thousands of former players.

BOSTON (AP) — The Patriots have released quarterback Cody Kessler, their latest roster move at the position following the departure of Tom Brady in free agency.

Kessler spent time on New England’s practice squad last season. He was inactive for 11 regular-season games as the third-string quarterback behind Brady and Jarrett Stidham.

Kessler was selected by Cleveland in the third round of the 2016 draft. He has played in 17 regular-season games with 12 starts during his four-year career that also included a stop in Jacksonville in 2018. He has completed 224 of 349 passes for 2,215 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are taking a chance on another suspended defensive end, signing Aldon Smith to a contract while his playing status in the NFL is uncertain.

A person with direct knowledge of the deal said Smith signed Wednesday with Dallas. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced. Smith posted a picture of himself signing a document on Instagram and wrote, “Life is good. I’m thankful. I’m blessed. I’m a Cowboy.”

Smith hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015, when he was suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy while with the Oakland Raiders.

The Cowboys now have two suspended pass rushers under contract in Smith and Randy Gregory. It wasn’t immediately clear where Smith stands in the reinstatement process. Gregory is seeking reinstatement.

—By AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has canceled a two-game series in London between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teams had been scheduled to play at Olympic Stadium on June 13-14.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement in a memorandum sent to MLB employees on Wednesday. MLB said March 19 that it had scrapped series in Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) — With so much uncertainty around the NBA season, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks is no longer ruling out Kevin Durant for the season.

Marks repeatedly had said he didn’t expect Durant to play this season while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, but he acknowledged Wednesday that everything is unknown now that the season is suspended because of the new coronavirus.

Durant was injured in the 2019 NBA Finals, so he would have a year to recover if the league were to resume in June.

Even Kyrie Irving, who had shoulder surgery on March 3, might be available if play stretched into the summer.

But Marks said he couldn’t even give an answer if the superstars would be able to play this season.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer plans to cut the pay of some executives and front office personnel while the season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Deputy Commissioners Mark Abbott and Gary Stevenson will take 25% cuts in salary starting April 16, the person said on the condition of anonymity because the reductions were not announced publicly.

Other cuts would range from 20% to 10% for managerial staff. Lower salaried employees, like entry-level hires, would see no reduction in pay. The cuts were first reported by Yahoo Sports.

MLS does not plan to furlough or layoff staff at this time, although a hiring freeze is in place. The league employs some 300 people at its New York headquarters.

—By AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson.

LONDON (AP) — UEFA postponed more matches and deadlines on Wednesday without giving any firm indication on when European soccer might be able to resume as it continues to grapple with the challenge of completing competitions suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body couldn’t even put a definitive timeframe on when this season’s Champions League and Europa League must be resumed, having been suspended midway through the round-of-16 stage. However, it is contemplating the idea of having the domestic season run through the summer into August — if games can resume on time amid nationwide lockdowns because of the virus.

UEFA’s executive committee also decided Tuesday to indefinitely postpone national team matches that had already been rescheduled once to June, including playoff qualifiers to complete the 24-team lineup for the European Championship. That tournament has been pushed back a year to 2021.

UEFA last week had little option but to postpone club competition finals that were due to be played in May, including the Champions League final in Istanbul.

MMA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says he won’t leave quarantine in Russia to fight, dealing another blow to UFC President Dana White’s determination to hold UFC 249 on April 18 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurmagomedov made his announcement Wednesday on Instagram, telling the mixed martial arts world to “take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.”

Nurmagomedov (28-0) was scheduled to fight top contender Tony Ferguson (25-3) in the main event of UFC 249 in two weeks. The show was initially slated for Barclays Center in Brooklyn before the pandemic threw the UFC’s schedule into upheaval.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO (AP) — The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official “handover ceremony”on Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.

The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.

The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. The flame has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday’s event merely ceremonial.

AUTO RACING

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Aston Martin will return to Formula One next year following a takeover worth nearly $1 billion.

The Racing Point team, which is owned by Lawrence Stroll, will be rebranded in 2021 after the Canadian billionaire completed a takeover of the British-based car manufacturer.

Racing Point said in a statement on Wednesday that the shareholders of Aston Martin Lagonda approved a fundraising of 536 million pounds ($664 million) on Monday, underpinned by an injection of 260 million pounds ($322 million) from investors led by Stroll.

COURTS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seyfarth Shaw, the law firm whose arguments critical of American women’s players led to the resignation of U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro, has asked to withdraw from representing the federation in the lawsuit.

Members of the women’s national team filed a gender discrimination suit against the USSF last year under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They claim they have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages. A trial is scheduled for May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In papers filed March 9 by Seyfarth Shaw, the USSF argued women’s national team players had lesser skills and responsibilities than their male counterparts.

Following widespread criticism that included rebukes by several USSF sponsors, Cordeiro apologized and brought in Latham & Watkins, the firm where former USSF President Alan Rothenberg is a retired partner.