The Latest: Durham Bulls laying off front-office staff

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

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The Durham Bulls are placing just over half of their front-office staff on furlough with Minor League Baseball on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Triple-A team in Durham, North Carolina, announced Wednesday that the changes are going into effect this week. The Bulls and parent company Capitol Broadcasting Company will offer full health benefits to affected employees, including to cover the employee portion of coverage costs.

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Team vice president Mike Birling told The Associated Press that the front office consists of 44 employees, including four working with the Coastal Plain League team for summer college baseball in nearby Holly Springs. Birling said the furlough would impact 24 employees.

“These steps were made to allow staff to utilize the measures our federal government passed to support employees in these unique times,” Birling said in a statement released by the team. “This is an unprecedented time for sports. Not only is our season indefinitely on hold, but the only way to solve the crisis is to not engage in group gatherings which is essential to our business.”

The team said it will “remain in close contact” with staff to react quickly if a start date for the season is determined.

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Reliving last year at Augusta National turned out to be a big hit for CBS Sports.

The network says its “2019 Masters Rewind” on Sunday — the final round of Tiger Woods winning a fifth green jacket, along with commentary from Woods — earned a 1.4 rating and a 4 share with an average of 2.2 million viewers.

CBS said the re-airing of the 2004 Masters on Saturday — Phil Mickelson adding commentary of his first major — had a 0.7 rating with a 2 share and an average of 1 million viewers.

CBS said Sunday’s broadcast was the most-watched and highest-rated weekend sports telecast since live sports was suspended just over a month ago.

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The start of the new women’s soccer season in Belarus has been delayed by fears that players have been exposed to the new coronavirus.

The women’s league was due to start its 2020 season on Thursday, but the Belarus soccer federation says it is now “suspended until further notice.”

The federation says “several” players had contact with “possible carriers” of the coronavirus.

Belarus is the only country in Europe still playing professional men’s soccer games with spectators in the stands. However, attendance has plummeted in recent weeks as many fans chose to stay away.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has opposed strict lockdown measures and even played in an ice hockey game in front of spectators last month.

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Siena College announced the death of former men’s basketball player Matt Gras. The school said the cause of death was related to complications from COVID-19.

The 46-year-old Gras had been ill with cerebellar ataxia, a neurological disorder, for many years.

Gras appeared in 114 games for the Saints from 1991-95 and played a key role in Siena’s third-place finish in the 1994 NIT.

Former Siena coach Mike Deane, who was Gras’ coach for three seasons, said in a release distributed by the school that he hopes Gras “can rest in peace now, because I know that he was struggling of late because of his disease, and I know that he will be sorely missed by all.”

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Major League Eating is launching a bracket-style elimination tournament starting Friday that will air on MLE’s YouTube channel.

Among the eight contestants are Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo, the top-ranked men’s and women’s eaters in the world. They’ll face off via video from their homes in four first-to-finish rounds.

In the qualifying round, contestants will need to consume two pounds of sliced bologna. The quarterfinals require one family pack of Oreo cookies and a half-gallon of milk, the semifinals involve 10 pounds of baked beans, and the finals will be 10 individual ramen noodle cups.

The winner earns $5,000.

MLE and event sponsor BetOnline will donate $10,000 to Feeding America, which has a COVID-19 response fund.

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The Chicago Blackhawks have canceled their fan convention due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event was scheduled for July 24-26 at the Hilton Chicago. It gives fans autograph opportunities as well as an audience with management, coaches and players.

The team says refunds for convention passes and hotel rooms will be processed automatically.

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Parma has become the second club in Italy’s top soccer division to announce cost-cutting measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The club says its first-team players, coaching staff and the sporting director have unanimously agreed to take a salary cut amounting to a month’s wages.

Juventus players and coach Maurizio Sarri agreed in March to forgo four months worth of salary.

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With no NBA games to watch during the sports shutdown, the Dream Team’s historic romp through Barcelona will be rebroadcast in its entirety.

The Olympic Channel will begin weekly streaming of the U.S. basketball team’s victories in the 1992 Olympics, when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined the team.

The 1992 Olympics were the first that featured NBA players, and the Americans stormed to the gold medal. They won by an average of 44 points per game and were credited with jump-starting basketball’s global growth. The team was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Full game replays will stream at Olympicchannel.com and its apps for mobile, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and the Roku platform. First up is the Americans’ victory over Angola on Thursday night at 7 p.m. EDT.

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Italian soccer will likely resume with the Serie A before the two lower divisions.

The Italian soccer federation met with its medical commission and says it could consider a staggered start “with priority to Serie A.”

The medical commission has also recommended that when clubs resume training they do so in training camps with limited access and with strict screening protocols.

Federation president Gabriele Gravina says “we are working without rushing, but without stopping so we will be ready when the relevant institutions give us the go-ahead.”

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Speedway Motorsports, owner and operator of eight tracks that host NASCAR’s top Cup Series, has laid off 180 employees and furloughed 100 as part of a company restructuring during the sports shutdown.

Speedway Motorsports owns the Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte, Kentucky, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Sonoma and Texas tracks. The coronavirus pandemic caused NASCAR to suspend the season just four events into a 36-race schedule. To date, Speedway Motorsports has had its races at Atlanta, Texas and Bristol postponed.

Tracks receive a significant financial payout from NASCAR’s television contract, but that revenue has stopped without racing.

Both NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports are hoping to restart the season May 24 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Novak Djokovic has been praised by the director general of the local health authority in Bergamo for his donation to help control the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Peter Assembergs says “we never expected to see on our bank account a donation from such a prestigious person.”

Assembergs says “reading among the donators the name of the best tennis player in the world … made me emotional.”

The money will be used to help buy ventilators and other medical equipment.

Djokovic, his wife and their foundation recently donated 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) to help hospitals in Serbia.

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This year’s Tour de France will start on Aug. 29 and finish on Sept. 20 and will be followed by cycling’s two other major races.

The International Cycling Union announced the new dates after consulting with race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation. The Tour could not start as scheduled on June 27 because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UCI also says the world championships will go ahead as planned from Sept. 20-27 and will be followed by the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta. No official dates were given for those two major races.

The UCI says prestigious one-day road classics such as Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be maintained at dates still to be defined.

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