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Tuesday August 4th, 2020 10:19AM

The Latest: Texas Longhorns exploring 25% stadium capacity

By The Associated Press
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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The University of Texas is now exploring how it can host football games at 25% percent stadium capacity instead of the previously announced 50% as the return to campus and the planned start of the season rapidly approaches.

Texas officials had told season ticket holders earlier this month they were planning for 50 percent capacity, which would be allowed under statewide orders from Gov. Greg Abbott. That would include nearly 50,000 fans.

But Austin’s health authority said Tuesday the 50% plan caught the city off guard and he questioned whether the school should host any fans at games. Texas is scheduled to host South Florida on Sept. 5 and the Big 12 has held out hope it can play a 12-game regular season.

In a campus letter Wednesday, Interim President Jay Hartzell said the chairman of the school’s Board of Regents asked the school to plan for a 25% attendance, including students.

The state of Texas has seen record numbers of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the month of July.

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The National Women’s Hockey League is pushing back the start of its season from mid-November to January because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The league announced Wednesday it still plans to have teams play a full 20-game season, with the playoffs to conclude by the end of March. Should time permit, the NWHL will schedule holding its traditional midseason all-star game after the playoffs.

The NWHL has six teams, with the addition of a Toronto expansion franchise. The league was unable to complete last season, having to cancel the championship game between Boston and Minnesota in mid-March because of COVID-19.

The NWHL plans to begin holding optional practices beginning the week of Sept. 21, followed by formal practices a month later. The schedule was determined by the league’s COVID-19 safety committee formed in April.

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The Big 12 will hold its football media day online Monday with only the conference’s 10 head coaches available.

The coronavirus pandemic forced all major college conferences to cancel their traditional in-person football media days and switch to virtual events. The uncertainty of when and if the season will start then prompted the virtual events to be delayed.

The Big 12 will be the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference to conduct a media day, with some of the teams in the conference scheduled to begin play on Aug. 29.

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Athletic director Greg Byrne says the University of Alabama has taken cost-cutting measures for each department and sport with the coronavirus threatening fall sports.

In a letter to fans posted Wednesday on the Crimson Tide’s website, Byrne says the athletic department placed a freeze on hiring for non-coaching jobs because of potential revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says Alabama also is finding ways to save on energy and facility operating costs and is reviewing other steps. The Southeastern Conference hasn’t announced plans for fall sports, including football, which could ultimately mean a limited number of fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

“Under normal operations, a large percentage of our annual budget comes directly from ticket sales and TIDE PRIDE memberships,” Byrne said, referring to Alabama’s ticket priority program.

“In the event we have to adopt a modified seating model at Bryant-Denny Stadium, this number will be impacted significantly. While we don’t yet know the effects on individual ticketholders, we do know that we will need your continued and generous support.”

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Spanish soccer club Sevilla says one of its players has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The club has not disclosed the name of the player. It says he has not shown symptoms of COVID-19 and is in good health and isolated at home.

Sevilla says the positive result was discovered on Monday. It immediately informed sports and health authorities and temporarily suspended the team’s training sessions. It also disinfected the club’s facilities in accordance with the strict protocols in place because of the pandemic.

Sevilla is scheduled to face Roma on Aug. 6 in the Europa League.

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FIFA has ratified a coronavirus relief plan that will make $1.5 billion available to soccer communities and national associations around the world.

All of the 211 FIFA member associations will receive a $1 million grant “to protect and restart football” and can access interest-free loans of up to $5 million.

Each member association will also receive an additional $500,000 grant for women’s soccer during the plan’s third phase.

The massive spending plan aims to help men’s and women’s professional soccer as well as youth and grassroots soccer through a system of grants and loans.

Each of the six soccer confederations will also receive a grant of $2 million.

FIFA expects to make the funds available by January 2021.

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Three riders competing at the Vuelta a Burgos cycling race in Spain have been dropped from the event after being in contact with someone with the coronavirus.

UAE Team Emirates says Colombian riders Sebastian Molano, Cristian Munoz and Camilo Ardila will not start the second stage.

The team says they were in contact with a person who turned out to be positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. They have been isolated and sent home in accordance with protocols by the team and international cycling body UCI.

The team says the three riders returned two negative tests three days before the race.

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The first two stops on the 2021 World Sevens Series rugby circuit have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

World Rugby says the joint events in Dubai from Nov. 26-28 and in Cape Town from Dec. 4-6 have been cut because of the “ongoing and dynamic global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The 2020 series was curtailed and New Zealand declared champions of the men’s and women’s titles after sports around the world were shuttered in March.

Planning for the remaining qualifiers for the postponed Tokyo Olympics is ongoing. Twenty-one of the 24 places in the Olympic tournaments have been confirmed.

A dozen teams are set to play in each of the men’s and women’s tournaments in the first half of next year for the remaining spots in Tokyo.

The last five stops in the 2020 series were canceled in June.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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