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Coronavirus makes major impact on sports world, including Buffalo

'Persons on or near the floor' tested positive for coronavirus during MAAC games, including one between Niagara and Canisius at the Koessler Center on March 6.
Credit: AP
Bill Gannon, a carpenter from Local #255, puts the finishing touches on the court for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men's and women's basketball championship tournament at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, March 9, 2020. (Edward Lea/The Press of Atlantic City via AP)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo News' Rachel Lenzi reported Saturday that "persons on or near the floor" tested positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, at Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference college basketball games.

That includes the regular-season finale between Niagara and Canisius at the Koessler Center on March 6. That was one week before before cases were confirmed in Western New York.

The MAAC added that there was exposure to the virus at two tournament games before the tournament was scrapped.

Canisius says the team and staff who were at the game are self-quarantining, and anyone who was at the games and has symptoms of COVID-19 should as well.

Canisius released this statement about the exposure.

On Tuesday (March 17), Canisius College was informed that two game officials who worked the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament opening round game preceding the Canisius vs. Iona game in Atlantic City, N.J., on March 10, 2020, later tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In an abundance of caution and following CDC guidelines, the Erie County Department of Health recommended on that the Canisius men’s basketball team and staff that were present at the game on March 10 enter precautionary quarantine for 14 days. 

Earlier today (Saturday, March 21), Canisius was made aware that additional persons on or near the floor during certain MAAC games have also tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those games, March 6 (vs. Niagara at Koessler Athletic Center) and March 10 (vs. Iona in Atlantic City, N.J.) involved the Canisius men’s basketball program. 

If you attended any of these events, and you have developed symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your health care provider and isolate at home. You should remain in isolation for 14 days since your symptoms began, and for 72 hours after your symptoms have resolved. 

A second Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19.    

The player was part of the recent road trip that included NHL games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. The total number of people on the trip was 52, including players, staff, media, guests and flight crew.

Of those on the trip, 44 have shown no symptoms, eight have been tested, and two positive results were received. The team is awaiting more results from tests given over the past three days.     

Everyone on the California trip was instructed to self-quarantine on March 13. The team says it is actively monitoring the situation and following all appropriate and professional guidelines.     

In other virus-related developments:

Health concerns and travel bans that have closed international borders because of the new coronavirus pandemic have forced the International Ice Hockey Federation to cancel the men’s world hockey championships. The decision to cancel the 16-team tournament to be held in Switzerland in May was formally announced Saturday. The move essentially wipes out the IIHF’s entire spring calendar of world championship of events after the women's and Under-18 men's tournaments were canceled earlier this month. Due to the pandemic's global scale, the council ruled there was no possibility of relocating the championship to another country.

The U.S. track federation has added its name to a growing chorus of calls to postpone the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus. In a letter to the CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Track and Field CEO Max Siegel urged the federation to advocate for the postponement of the Games, which are to start July 24. The track federation joins USA Swimming, which sent a similar letter to the USOPC on Thursday.

Brazil’s Olympic Committee is calling for the Tokyo Games to be postponed until 2021. The Brazilian body said in a statement published on Saturday that the decision is a necessity due to the seriousness of the pandemic and “the consequent difficulty for athletes to keep their best competitive level.” And the Norwegian Olympic Committee says the Games shouldn’t take place until the coronavirus outbreak “is under firm control” worldwide.

Saturday marks the 10th full day of the NBA’s shutdown, a stoppage that has cost the league 75 games and counting. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says it’s too soon to tell what the economic impact will be. He says the league is considering all options - best-case, worst-case and countless ideas in between - as it tries to come to grips with this new normal. By April 15, the day the regular season was supposed to end, the NBA will have missed 259 games.

The owners of the Boston Bruins say they have established a $1.5 million fund for employees of the team and TD Garden who have lost work because of the suspension of the NHL season. The Bruins were the last team in the league to commit to taking care of part-time and game-day employees. According to a statement from the team, the Jacobs family would help workers “who will be financially burdened if the six remaining regular season Bruins games are not played.”

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says he has been self-isolating for more than a week after meeting people who later tested positive for the new coronavirus. Hamilton was at a charity event in London on March 4 also attended by actor Idris Elba and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister. Both were later found to have the virus. In a message on social media, Hamilton says he’s shown “zero symptoms” but has been isolating himself from other people ever since March 13, when the Australian Grand Prix was called off. He said he hasn’t been tested because test kits are in short supply and “there are people who need it more than I do.”

Auto racers around the world are moving online while the coronavirus pandemic keeps them off the track. Drivers from Formula One, NASCAR and other leading series are using simulators to stay sharp and entertain fans - and finding they're struggling to keep pace with pro gamers. Since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off last weekend, Red Bull's Max Verstappen has been racing online, as has McLaren's Lando Norris. F1, NASCAR and INDYCAR have had drivers sign up to take part in virtual races in place of real ones, and sports networks with time slots to fill are saying they'll air them.

A handful of golf mini tours are continuing to play through as coronavirus fears shut down major sports leagues across the world. The Cactus Tour in Phoenix this week was won by two-time major champion Anna Nordqvist and the Outlaw Tour held a men's event across the Valley of the Sun. The Cactus Tour instituted preventative guidelines to prevent spread of the coronavirus, sanitizing golf carts, limiting one rider per cart and asking for social distancing on the course.

Gulfstream Park has dropped purses for its seven stakes races on Florida Derby day by 20.5%. Track officials say the changes for next Saturday were necessitated by the loss of on-track handle and revenue from the track’s casino. The biggest hit went to the Florida Derby itself, which was to have a $1 million purse and now will be run for $750,000. Purses for the Gulfstream Park Oaks and the Kitten’s Joy were trimmed by $50,000 apiece, while the Cutler Bay and the Sanibel Island will be run for $100,000 each, down from the originally planned purse of $125,000. 

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