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Coronavirus forces Olympic soccer and boxing qualifiers to move

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness.

A four-nation Asian qualifying group for the women’s soccer tournament was switched from the city at the center of the health scare to Nanjing.

The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifying tournament scheduled for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan was cancelled. No new plans were announced.

The decisions followed Chinese health authorities telling people in Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

The Asian Football Confederation said the round-robin group — featuring host China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — will be played on Feb. 3-9, retaining the same dates, in Nanjing.

More than 500 people have been infected and at least 17 killed since the outbreak emerged last month. The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus.

Cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. All involve people from Wuhan or who recently traveled there.

In the soccer qualifiers in China, two teams advance to a four-nation playoff round in March. That will decide which two teams from Asia join host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd headline U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying

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Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd lead a 20-player U.S. Olympic soccer qualifying roster, which could be a peek at what the team could look like in Tokyo.

The U.S. women, reigning World Cup champions after being upset in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, will clinch an Olympic spot by placing top two at a CONCACAF qualifier in the United States from Jan. 28-Feb. 9.

The Americans played in every Olympic soccer tournament since women debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Given they are ranked No. 1 in the world, and only one other CONCACAF nation is in the top 25 (No. 8 Canada), they will be heavy favorites to reach the Olympic qualifier final.

The qualifying team of 20:

Goalkeepers
Adrianna Franch
Ashlyn Harris
Alyssa Naeher

Defenders
Abby Dahlkemper
Crystal Dunn
Ali Krieger
Kelley O’Hara
Becky Sauerbrunn
Emily Sonnett

Midfielders
Julie Ertz
Lindsey Horan
Rose Lavelle
Samantha Mewis
Andi Sullivan

Forwards
Tobin Heath
Carli Lloyd
Jessica McDonald
Christen Press
Megan Rapinoe
Lynn Williams

The eight players who were named in December to this month’s camp who didn’t make the team: goalie Jane Campbell and field players Tierna Davidson, Midge Purce, Casey Short, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith.

Brian, Long and Pugh made the Rio Olympic team. The Tokyo Olympic team will be 18 players, two fewer than qualifying, with the roster likely to include two goalies.

Competition to make the final 18 will intensify in the spring, in part due to the expected return of forward Alex Morgan from pregnancy. The last two Olympic teams each had four forwards, but new coach Vlatko Andonovski may be signaling a different makeup by putting six on the qualifying team.

Williams and Sullivan are the only two players on the qualifying roster who were not on the 23-player 2019 World Cup champion team.

In 2016, Rapinoe was not on the Olympic qualifying roster due to an ACL tear but came back to make the Olympic team.

Lloyd, who turns 38 a week before the Tokyo Games, is bidding to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player in history, breaking Christie Rampone‘s record. Lloyd and Heath are trying to tie Rampone’s U.S. record of playing in four Olympic tournaments.

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Biles, Felix, Rapinoe and Shiffrin nominated for World Sportswoman of the Year

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Gymnast Simone Biles, sprinter Allyson Felix and Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, each staking a claim as the best ever in their sports, have been nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. The winner will be announced Feb. 17 in Berlin.

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is also nominated, giving the U.S. four of the six nominees for the award. The other nominees are Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Naomi Osaka.

The U.S. women’s soccer team is also nominated for World Team of the Year, alongside two other World Cup champions — South Africa (men’s rugby) and Spain (men’s basketball). The NBA champion Toronto Raptors are also nominated, along with European and world champion Liverpool FC and perennial Formula 1 champion Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Tiger Woods, who won The Masters after several years with no major championships, is nominated for Sportsman of the Year. Argentine soccer great Lionel Messi (Barcelona FC) is also nominated, along with tennis player Rafael Nadal, two-hour marathon barrier breaker Eliud Kipchoge, and motorsports stars Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1) and Marc Márquez (MotoGP).

Two tennis players, Coco Gauff and Bianca Andreescu, are nominated for Breakthrough of the Year, along with U.S. swimmer Regan Smith, Colombian Tour de France champion Egan Bernal, Japan’s men’s rugby team and boxer Andy Ruiz Jr.

U.S. swimmer Nathan Adrian, who won his 15th and 16th world championships after a bout with testicular cancer, is nominated for World Comeback of the Year, along with Liverpool FC, tennis player Andy Murray, NBA champion Kawhi Leonard, German Formula 3 driver Sophia Flörsch and Australian rugby star Christian Lealiifano.

Skier/cyclist Oksana Masters is nominated for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability, along with Dutch wheelchair tennis player Diede de Groot, Cuban sprinter Omara Durand, Dutch cyclist/triathlete Jetze Plat, Swiss track and field star Manuela Schär and British swimmer Alice Tai.

U.S. athletes Nyjah Huston (skateboard), Chloe Kim (snowboarding) and Carissa Moore (surfing) are up for Action Sportsperson of the Year, along with 11-year-old Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal, Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira and Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris.

Biles has already won this award twice, in 2017 and 2019. She’s nominated this time after taking five of a possible six gold medals in the world championships, running her career totals to 19 golds and 25 medals.

WORLDS: Biles breaks career record

Felix broke Usain Bolt’s record for world championship gold medals, winning two relays for her first two gold medals as a mom.

2020: Felix has everything on the table

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the U.S. women won their second straight World Cup, and she was consistently in the spotlight for her outspoken views on LGBTQ rights and equal pay.

AWARD: Rapinoe takes Ballon d’Or

Shiffrin also had a record-setting year, winning 17 World Cup races to take her third straight overall title along with the season titles in slalom, giant slalom and super-G.

RECORD: Shiffrin wraps up fourth globe of 2019

Woods won The Masters, his first major victory in more than a decade. He won the Sportsman of the Year award in 2000 and 2001, along with the Comeback of the Year award last year.

2020: Woods contending for Olympic berth

Gauff became the youngest winner of a WTA Tour event since 2004, taking the Linz Open title at age 15, and defeated Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Smith set a 200m backstroke world record in the world championship semifinals and went on to win the title, along with a medley relay gold, at age 17.

In his first world championship since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, Adrian took gold in two relays, including a thrilling anchor leg in the 4x100m freestyle.

Masters won five gold medals in the cross-country skiing world championships and two silver medals in the cycling worlds. She won the U.S. Paralympic Athlete of the Year award in November.

Huston three-peated as world champion in the street skateboarding event. Kim swept the world championship and X Games halfpipe events before beginning her studies at Princeton. Moore won her fourth world title.

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