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ATP, WTA tennis tours suspend weeks of tournaments

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The ATP suspended all men’s professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the WTA said Thursday it was calling off one event in April and would decide on any further changes to the women’s tour schedule within a week.

After the men’s tour said it would halt ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour competition until late April, WTA spokeswoman Amy Binder told The Associated Press the women’s tour was not immediately prepared to do the same.

“At this point in time,” Binder wrote in an email, “we are not looking to put in a 6 week suspension.”

Later, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said the tournament in Charleston, S.C., won’t be held as scheduled because of concerns about coronavirus. The clay-court Volvo Car Open was supposed to be April 6-12.

Simon added that the WTA will work with player and tournament leadership to make a decision in the next week about the European clay-court season.

In a further indication of the fractured nature of tennis decision-making, the International Tennis Federation said its lower-tier events would be on hold until April 22; the men’s tour said its tournaments would not resume before the end of that week.

The next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, is still scheduled to be held in Paris beginning May 24.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

The combined men’s and women’s tournament at Indian Wells, Calif., that was scheduled to begin main-draw play this week already had been called off Sunday because of fears about the virus outbreak.

Thursday’s ATP announcement affects the combined men’s and women’s Miami Open, where play was supposed to begin in less than two weeks, along with the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.

The Miami Open was supposed to be played March 23 to April 5 at the NFL’s Dolphins stadium complex in Miami Gardens.

With Miami-Dade County under a state of emergency, Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced the cancellation of the Miami Open, along with a county youth fair and all major events at the Miami Heat’s arena.

Unlike with Indian Wells, where there was an insistence that rescheduling later this year might be possible, Miami Open tournament director James Blake made clear that his event would not be played until 2021.

The Miami Open draws fans from all over the world, which compounded health concerns. Last year’s attendance totaled nearly 389,000, the most in tournament history. Tournament officials estimated the economic impact for South Florida at $390 million.

Most of the world’s top tennis players were supposed to participate in Miami; 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer was not going to be there because he is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

The ITF said Thursday its suspension applied to all tournaments on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour, the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors, the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour and ITF Seniors Tour.

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Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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