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Coronavirus wreaks more havoc with sports schedules, including track and field championship

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The World Athletics Indoor Championship, the pinnacle of track and field’s winter season, has been pushed back one year, joining a long list of sports events that have been scrubbed, moved or postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China.

The indoor championship was scheduled for March 13-15 in Nanjing, China.

World Athletics (formerly the IAAF) considered relocating the event but said it was concerned by the spread of the virus outside China as well. Postponing the biennial event to 2021 also gives Nanjing the opportunity to put its preparation to use.

“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed,” a World Athletics statement said.

Other organizations agree, moving or postponing their own major gatherings, some of them at 2022 Olympic venues and some affecting qualification for the 2020 Games.

Winter X Games: China has hosted the X Games in the summer, but the Feb. 21-23 competition at the Olympic venue of Genting Resort Secret Garden in Chongli was due to be the first Winter X Games in the country. The event is in limbo after organizers announced its postponement earlier this week.

Alpine skiing World Cup: Another event that would have taken place at an Olympic venue and would have been the first of its kind in China was scrubbed on Wednesday. The course in Yanqing, China, was due to host a men’s downhill and super-G Feb. 15-16. The FIS hopes to bring the men’s World Cup circuit to Yanqing next season, along with women’s races that are already on the schedule.

Olympic boxing qualifiers: Originally set for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus crisis, the Asia-Oceania boxing qualifiers will be held March 3-11 in Amman, Jordan.

Olympic women’s soccer qualifiers: The women’s soccer qualification tournament also was originally set to start Feb. 3 in Wuhan. The event was originally moved to Nanjing but then moved to Sydney, Australia, a move just announced on Sunday. Organizers confirmed Wednesday that the tournament would remain on its original start date of Feb. 3, but China’s team is under quarantine in Australia.

Olympic basketball qualifiers: The women’s basketball tournament set for Feb. 6-9 in Foshan has been moved to Belgrade. China, Britain, South Korea and Spain are competing.

Diving World Series: A meet scheduled for March 6-8 in Beijing has been canceled.

Tour of Hainan: The cycling tour around the Chinese island, scheduled to run Feb. 23-March 1, has been canceled.

Fed Cup: An Asia/Oceania event in the global women’s tennis tournament has been moved from Dongguan to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. It will take place on its original dates, Feb. 4-8.

Supercup: The Chinese soccer club season opener between Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua, scheduled for Feb. 5 in Suzhou, has been postponed.

The schedule changes are reminiscent of the SARS outbreak of 2003, when the Women’s World Cup was abruptly moved to the United States, the world track cycling championships were moved to Germany, and the women’s ice hockey world championships were canceled.

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Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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