When sports will return

The major sports leagues are inching closer to a return during the coronavirus pandemic
iStock/Washington Post illustration

The coronavirus pandemic threw the schedules of sports leagues into disarray starting in March, with big events such as Wimbledon and the British Open outright canceled and the Olympics pushed to 2021. Many major sports leagues suspended their seasons or altered offseason plans. Sports such as golf, horse racing, auto racing and soccer have begun or are about to begin and now the machinery of major team sports is beginning to start up in the United States, even if it is possible that there will be no fans in the stands.



MLB

  • Reopening: July 23 or 24
  • Fans: TBD

Major League Baseball and the players’ union have an agreement, with a July 1 date for the reopening of “spring” training camps and Opening Day for a 60-game schedule set for July 23 or 24, nearly four months behind schedule. Unlike other sports, baseball aims to play with teams in their home ballparks, as opposed to a one-site, quarantined “bubble.”

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MLB finalizes plan for July return

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NBA

  • Reopening: July 30
  • Fans: No

The NBA’s Board of Governors approved a plan to resume the season in July with 22 teams playing and living at the massive Disney sports complex near Orlando. The proposal, approved by a 29-1 vote, has games starting July 30 and continuing into October without fans. The players’ union has signed off on that plan.

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NBA approves plan to return with games set to start July 31

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NBA players express concern about potential return amid coronavirus spikes, national protests


NFL

  • Opening: Regular season starts Sept. 10
  • Fans: TBD

The league held its draft in April as scheduled, albeit remotely, and its regular season schedule was released as planned. Team facilities opened with states relaxing coronavirus restrictions, although players have not returned to them.

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NFL ‘will have positive cases’ in bid to play season

NFL expects coaches will be able to return to teams’ facilities this week

NFL is testing face masks that contain surgical and N95 material



NHL

  • Reopening: Training camps open July 10
  • Fans: TBD

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have announced that training camps will open July 10. The length of camp and start date for the 24-team playoff at two to-be-determined hub sites will be announced later.

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Capitals GM on NHL’s return to play: ‘Answers aren’t always completely there’

NHL ends regular season, will return with 24-team playoff at an undetermined time

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Soccer

  • Reopening: Underway in many countries
  • Fans: Not immediately

The competition has resumed in Germany, Spain, England and Italy. France will restart in August. In the United States, the National Women’s Soccer League opened its Challenge Cup tournament June 27 near Salt Lake City; one team, the Orlando Pride, pulled out after an outbreak on its roster. Major League Soccer returns July 8 with a leaguewide tournament without spectators at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando.

Read more:

Orlando Pride withdraws from NWSL tournament, citing 10 positive tests for coronavirus

MLS to return with tournament in Orlando starting July 8

MLS and players reach deal on new CBA, clearing way for return this summer


WNBA

  • Reopening: Late July
  • Fans: No

The WNBA will play a 22-game season in Bradenton, Fla., without fans. All 12 teams will report to IMG Academy in early July, and the site will host training camp and games and provide housing. The league has not announced safety guidelines, but players will receive full pay and benefits. Some have begun opting out, including a pair of players for the defending champion Washington Mystics.

Read more:

WNBA to hold a shortened 22-game season without fans

Mystics’ Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders opt out of 2020 WNBA season

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Auto racing

  • Reopening dates: NASCAR and IndyCar racing is underway; Formula One begins July 5
  • Fans: Some allowed at Homestead, Talladega; Indianapolis 500 will be at half capacity

NASCAR was the first major U.S. sport to return to competition when it raced May 17 in Darlington, S.C., without spectators. The circuit has races planned through the summer at tracks in southeastern states; it allowed some spectators at Homestead (Fla.) and welcomed up to 5,000 fans at Talladega (Ala.).

IndyCar held its first race June 6, albeit with no fans, but plans to allow fans at half capacity for the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500.

On June 4, Formula One announced a schedule for its first eight races, beginning the first weekend in July in Austria. The second race will also be in Austria before the circuit moves to Hungary, Britain (two races), Spain, Belgium and Italy. All eight are tentatively planned to be closed to fans. On June 12, the circuit announced that races scheduled in Japan, Singapore and Azerbaijan have been called off.

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Shut out at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR fans set up camp next door

NASCAR is ready to get weird with a Wednesday night race that covers 500 kilometers

NASCAR fires up its engines Sunday, hoping to lead sports’ return from quarantine


Golf

  • Reopening: PGA Tour resumed June 11; LPGA, European tours in mid-July
  • Fans: On a limited basis July 16-19 at the Memorial

The PGA Tour returned in early June, without fans, at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth. As for the major tournaments, the British Open has been canceled, but the PGA Championship is set for Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco; the U.S. Open for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.; and the Masters for Nov. 12-15 at Augusta National. The Ryder Cup remains on scheduled for Sept. 25-27 At Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

The LPGA Tour lost its first major June 9: The Evian Championship in France has been canceled.

Read more:

Rory McIlroy says a fan-free Ryder Cup isn’t worth holding, predicts it will be moved to 2021

Phil Mickelson wants to make ‘The Match’ with Tiger woods an annual event


Horse racing

  • Rescheduled: Started with Belmont Stakes, June 20
  • Fans: TBD

The Triple Crown has a different look. With the Kentucky Derby and Preakness postponed, the Belmont Stakes moved to the head of the three-race pack. It was held June 20 at a shorter distance at Belmont Park in New York — favorite Tiz the Law won handily — with the Derby being run Sept. 5 and the Preakness Stakes wrapping up the Triple Crown on Oct. 3.

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Tiz the Law lays down the law, wins Belmont Stakes to open reshaped Triple Crown season

Belmont Stakes set for June 20, becoming the first of the Triple Crown races

Kentucky Derby moves to September


Olympics

  • Rescheduled: July 23-Aug. 8, 2021
  • Fans: TBD

Olympic athletes will be better able to resume training as states and countries relax restrictions, but much remains unclear. Will there be another wave of illness? Will travel be possible next summer? Will fans be present for the competition in Tokyo?

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With Olympics postponed, Katie Ledecky focuses on educating herself — and others

Simone Biles casts doubt on training if Olympics are postponed again: ‘I do not know what I would do’

Olympics to be canceled if they can’t be held in 2021



Tennis

  • Reopening: TBD
  • Fans: TBD

Exhibitions and local events have begun to be held in places where authorities have loosened restrictions, but the calendar remains empty until early August. As for the Grand Slam events, Wimbledon was outright canceled, but the U.S. Open remains scheduled for Aug. 24 to Sept. 13 in New York, to be quickly followed by the French Open from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4 in Paris. The Australian Open remains set for mid-January. Travel remains an issue for all international sports, and the U.S. Tennis Association is considering group flights for players.

Read more:

The U.S. Open intends to play on schedule, but will tennis’s top players show up?

World Team Tennis to play its July schedule at the Greenbrier, with scattered fans

Tennis confronts a grim outlook

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