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How coronavirus is affecting Olympic sports events

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Olympic sports events have been canceled, postponed and limited due to the coronavirus. NBC News has full coronavirus coverage here. A look at what major events have been affected in the Olympic sports world …

Alpine Skiing

The final two weekends of the World Cup season — this week and next — were canceled by the International Ski Federation (FIS) in the last week. Races had been scheduled in Sweden, Slovenia and Italy. “The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders,” FIS said in its latest statement Thursday morning in announcing the final round of cancellations. “FIS is fully compliant with the instructions and decisions of the National and Regional Governments and their Health Authorities in any recommendation regarding public gathers that impact FIS competitions.”

Italian Federica Brignone and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde led the standings for the World Cup overall titles, the biggest annual prizes in the sport. Mikaela Shiffrin, who took a break from the World Cup following her father’s Feb. 2 death, had traveled to Sweden to make her return for this week’s final races before they were canceled on Wednesday.

Baseball

The last two Olympic qualifying tournaments, set to be held in Arizona in two weeks and in Chinese Taipei in early April, have been postponed. The Arizona tournament, for North and South American teams including the U.S., does not have new dates yet. The final, global Olympic qualifying tournament in Chinese Taipei is now scheduled for June.

Basketball

The primary Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying tournament, originally scheduled for Bengaluru, India, in two weeks, was postponed on March 5 with no make-up date announced. At the time, the international basketball federation (FIBA) said it must be rescheduled to dates before the April 24-26 universality Olympic 3×3 qualifier. The universality qualifier is strictly for nations without recent Olympic five-on-five history. The primary qualifying tournament is the U.S.’ lone pathway to qualifying men’s and women’s 3×3 teams for the event’s Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Curling

The world women’s curling championship, originally scheduled to start Saturday in British Columbia, was canceled Thursday. Men’s worlds, originally scheduled for March 28-April 5 in Glasgow, and mixed doubles words, originally scheduled April 18-25 in Canada, were canceled on Saturday.

Equestrian

The Kentucky Three-Day Event, originally scheduled for April 23-26 at the Kentucky Horse Park, was canceled for the first time in its 42-year history. It’s the highest-level eventing competition in the North America and one of the three events in the Grand Slam of Eventing. The World Cup Finals for jumping and dressage were also canceled.

Figure Skating

The world championships, originally scheduled for Montreal next week, were called off on Wednesday by the Quebec government. “The ISU [International Skating Union] and Skate Canada have closely monitored the provincial and federal health authorities’ position on the spread of the virus and fully respect the difficult decision made today,” the ISU said in a statement. “Like the authorities, the ISU and Skate Canada are committed to the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators.”

The competition could be rescheduled, but not before October. American Nathan Chen, the 2018 and 2019 World champion, said he was concerned before the decision was made. “I’m glad they are able to stay at home, to stay where they are,” he said. More on skaters’ reactions is here.

Gymnastics

An artistic gymnastics all-around World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany, set for next week, was called off. An apparatus World Cup in Doha, set for next week, was postponed until early June. World Cups are part of Olympic qualifying.

Hockey

The women’s world championship, a two-week event set to begin March 31 in Nova Scotia, was canceled last week. “Ultimately the IIHF Council feels that there has not been enough of an improvement to the coronavirus situation to allow us to safely host a 10-team international tournament within this timeframe,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a press release, which noted that 2021 Worlds are proposed to be in Canada. The men’s hockey world championship, set for Switzerland in May, remains on schedule.

Modern Pentathlon

The world championships, originally set to be held in Xiamen, China, in late May, were moved to Cancun, Mexico.

Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic Flame lighting ceremony was held with limited attendance in Olympia, Greece, on Thursday to start the Olympic torch relay leading up to the Opening Ceremony on July 24.

“We are especially grateful that you made today’s ceremony possible, even under difficult circumstances,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a speech, thanking the Greek Olympic Committee president at the site of the Ancient Olympics. “This demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Nineteen weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organizations around the world who are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

The IOC said in a statement that, given the unprecedented circumstances the world is facing, “the health and safety of the thousands of torchbearers, spectators and staff will be the first priority along the route of the Olympic Torch Relay both in Greece and Japan.”

Short Track Speed Skating

The world championships, originally scheduled for this week in Seoul, were postponed on Feb. 26 after the host ice rink was closed. The following week, the ISU ruled out rescheduling or relocating the event this season but said it was possible that it could be held later in 2020, but not before mid-October.

Soccer

The CONCACAF Olympic men’s qualifying tournament has been postponed with no makeup date yet announced. The event, which was originally scheduled for March 20-April 1 in Mexico, is the U.S.’ chance to qualify for an Olympic men’s soccer tournament for the first time since 2008 and the last continental Olympic men’s soccer qualifier.

Track and Field

The world indoor track and field championships, which were scheduled for this week in Nanjing, China, were announced as postponed on Jan. 29, rescheduling for March 2021. The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race held every year starting in 1897, was postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14. The London Marathon, the world’s other major spring marathon, was rescheduled from April 26 to Oct. 4. The Tokyo Marathon went on the date scheduled on March 1, but restricted to elite racers. Significant early season outdoor meets in April and May — the Penn Relays, plus Diamond League meets in China and Doha, have been postponed.

Water Polo

The final, global Olympic men’s and women’s qualifying tournaments were postponed. The men’s event, originally scheduled for late March in the Netherlands, will now be May 31-June 7. The women’s tournament, originally slated for this week in Italy, is now scheduled for May 17-24. A FINA task force will re-examine the situation for both events in late April.

Wrestling

The U.S. Olympic Trials, originally scheduled for April 4-5 at Penn State, were postponed. Organizers were in discussions about rescheduling the event at the same venue. U.S. Olympic hopefuls continued competing at the Pan American Olympic qualifying tournament in Ottawa, looking to secure Olympic quota spots for the country.

Other World Cup-level events and continental Olympic qualifiers in beach volleyball, biathlon, boxing, canoe-kayak, cycling, diving, fencing, rowing, rugby, shooting, skiing and snowboarding, sport climbing, triathlon and weightlifting have been canceled or postponed.

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Olympic wrestlers tie for gold medal, 8 years after the competition

Bilyal Makhov
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A pair of doping cases led to the first Olympic gold-medal tie in wrestling history, eight years after the matches took place.

Russian Bilyal Makhov was upgraded to 2012 Olympic freestyle super heavyweight gold, joining Iranian Komeil Ghasemi, who was upgraded last year, according to the IOC’s website.

In February, Russian media reported that Makhov recently tested positive for growth hormone, which would have no bearing on 2012 results.

The move came after the finalists in 2012 — Uzbek Artur Taymazov and Georgian Davit Modzmanashvil — were stripped of their gold and silver medals last year in retests of doping samples from the London Games.

Makhov and Ghasemi each originally earned bronze medals. In wrestling, bronze medals are awarded to each match winner in repechage finals.

Ghasemi, whose only loss in London came to gold medalist Taymazov, was originally upgraded to gold by United World Wrestling in 2019. Makhov, whose loss came to Modzmanashvil, was originally upgraded to silver before the later upgrade to a second gold.

American Tervel Dlagnev and Kazakh Daulet Shabanbay, who lost the bronze-medal matches to Ghasemi and Makhov, were upgraded to bronze-medal positions last year, according to United World Wrestling.

Taymazov became the second athlete to be stripped of gold medals from multiple Olympics for doping, losing his London 2012 title two years after giving up his Beijing 2008 crown. Both were because of retests coming back positive for banned steroids.

Wrestling has been contested at every modern Olympics save 1900.

In 1912, Sweden’s Anders Ahlgren and Finland’s Ivar Bohling wrestled for nine hours in a final without deciding a winner, according to Olympedia.org. The match was declared a “double loss” and both awarded silver medals. There was no gold medalist.

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Deajah Stevens, Olympic sprinter, suspended through Tokyo Games

Deajah Stevens
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Deajah Stevens, a U.S. Olympic 200m sprinter, was suspended through Aug. 15, 2021, for missing drug tests, ruling her out of the Tokyo Games unless she successfully appeals.

Stevens, who placed seventh in Rio, missed three drug tests in 2019, grounds for a suspension between one and two years.

The exact length depends on an athlete’s degree of fault and, with the timing in this case, determined whether she would be banned through the Olympics.

Full details of her case are here.

The 18-month ban was backdated to Feb. 17, the date that Stevens requested her case be expedited. Her last of three missed tests was Nov. 25.

Stevens’ lawyer requested the suspension be backdated to the third missed test, which would have kept her eligible for the Olympics, or the date of Stevens’ request for an expedited hearing on Feb. 17, which could have kept her Olympic eligible if the ban was closer to one year.

For Stevens’ second missed test, she did not hear door knocks from a back bedroom. The drug tester called her five times but never received an answer. Stevens said her phone was out of battery power.

For her last missed test, the drug tester again tried to call Stevens. But Stevens changed her phone number six weeks earlier, after somebody was harassing her and threatening her fiance’s life. She had not yet notified drug-testing authorities that she changed her number.

“Despite our sympathy for the athlete, we have not been satisfied on a balance of probability that her behavior was not negligent and did not cause or contribute to her failure to be available for testing,” a disciplinary tribunal found. “She already had missed two doping tests in the last six months. She should have been on red alert and conscious that she could not miss the next one.”

Stevens’ initial provisional suspension was announced May 1 ahead of a June 25 disciplinary tribunal hearing.

Stevens, 25, was disqualified from the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Championships 200m semifinals in her only outdoor meet of the year, according to World Athletics.

She ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in the 200m in 2017 (and placed fifth at the world championships), No. 31 in 2018 and No. 59 in 2019.

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