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Wednesday July 28th, 2021 4:21AM

The Latest: Cactus League asks MLB to delay spring training

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 Cactus League has asked Major League Baseball to delay the start of spring training due to coronavirus concerns just over three weeks before pitchers and catchers are supposed to report.

The Cactus League made the request in a letter to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. The letter was co-signed by Arizona community leaders, including the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Goodyear and Peoria, as well as representatives from Phoenix and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Maricopa County is averaging just over 7,000 new coronavirus cases per day, but the Cactus League cited data in its letter from the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation projecting a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by mid-March, down to as few as 3,072 daily.

Despite the roiling case numbers, the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes are hosting 3,450 fans for home games in Glendale, and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns are playing without fans. High school sports are also still operating.

Any changes to the major league schedule are subject to agreement with the players’ association.

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The Chattanooga Mocs have postponed a pair of men’s basketball games after a positive COVID-19 test among the team’s Tier 1 personnel.

Chattanooga has postponed Wednesday night’s game at ETSU and Saturday’s trip to Furman. Tier 1 personnel includes players, coaches and essential support staff.

This is Chattanooga’s first schedule change since the start of the season. The Mocs’ season opener was changed from Bellarmine to Lander with their second game postponed a couple weeks due to issues with both of the Kentucky-based programs.

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The Southern Conference postponed three games because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Furman and Chattanooga men’s basketball programs.

UNC Greensboro at Furman on Monday night and Chattanooga’s visit to East Tennessee on Wednesday night were postponed, and Chattanooga’s game at Furman scheduled for Saturday also was called off.

Furman’s next scheduled game is Feb. 3 at Samford, while Chattanooga is slated to return to the court at Western Carolina the same day. ___

Minnesota’s premier sled dog race will take place beginning next week, but this year spectators will not be part of the event.

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon traditionally attracts thousands of spectators at the start of the race in Duluth, at checkpoints, and at the finish in Grand Portage. But, because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, spectators have been told to stay home and watch the race online.

Race officials, mushers, handlers and the hundreds of volunteers will be required to wear a face covering.

It’s a big field this year with more than 70 mushers registered between three races, WDIO-TV reports.

The race has been held every January since 1980. At about 400 miles, the event is billed as the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states and is a qualifier for the Iditarod in Alaska.

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There were eight positive tests out of 2,518 English Premier League players and club staff who were tested twice last week.

The results follow 16 cases announced last Monday, and 36 the Monday before that.

All eight positives last week were recorded in the first round of testing from Monday, Jan. 18 to Thursday, Jan. 21. There were no positive tests from Friday, Jan. 22 to Sunday, Jan. 24.

All of the individuals who tested positive have to self-isolate for 10 days.

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The Belgian soccer federation says amateur competitions should be suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional soccer and the Belgian Cup competition will be able to continue with no fans at stadiums. The amateur teams in the Belgian Cup will be granted a special permission to play.

The federation says only kids under 12 will be allowed to continue playing.

The federation says the financial consequences of the pandemic have been “huge” and that it has already spent 8 million euros ($9.55 million) in aid to clubs.

Belgium has been hit hard by the pandemic. The country of 11.5 million inhabitants has reported more than 20,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

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

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