The Latest: Pop keeping eye on Japan, and Olympic hopes

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Photo credit New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, left, leaves the field after a bullpen session with catcher Gary Sanchez after a bullpen session during a baseball summer training camp workout Sunday, July 5, 2020, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
By The Associated Press

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

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San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, the U.S. men’s basketball coach, says he is watching how Japan — the site of the next Olympics — is handling the coronavirus.

“They seem to be doing a pretty good job,” Popovich said. He said he hopes the Tokyo Games, which were delayed until 2021, could still happen — especially if a vaccine or other remedies are developed beforehand.

The NBA plans to start next season in December, which could complicate Olympic availability for players. It’s not clear if the playoffs would be finished before the Olympics would begin on July 23, 2021.

That will make filling a roster “a little bit trickier,” Popovich said.

“I think there will undoubtedly be some players that we’d probably love to have, but circumstances may make it difficult for them with a short turnaround between whatever the end of the season is going to be and the Olympics,” Popovich said. “You can’t foresee people’s family situations and what might be good for them. So, we’d like to have all the players that we want. But I think to have every single one that we want, we’d have to be very fortunate.”

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Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not travel with the team to Orlando and did not participate in the team’s first practice.

Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t provide a reason for their absence but said he expects both players to join the team in Florida soon.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too many days,” D’Antoni said. “It will work itself out. Some things you can’t control totally, but in a few days they’ll be here.”

D’Antoni was asked how much missing the team’s two biggest stars for the first few days of practice will hinder his team.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “But it’s going to be good and we’ll be ready to go. It won’t set us back.”

Houston’s first game is July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.

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The Indy Eleven has resumed its United Soccer League season with fans inside Lucas Oil Stadium, a home they share with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

The retractable roof was supposed to be open, but late afternoon storms forced team officials to keep it closed.

Before entering, fans were required to undergo temperature checks and go through contactless security checkpoints. They also were required to wear face coverings.

Team officials announced last week tickets would be sold in groups of four or fewer with every other row of the lower bowl empty. The team also said it would keep at least four empty seats between groups.

All of the players and referees knelt during the national anthem, which was followed by a 15-second moment of silence against racism.

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Cleveland Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. worked out with his teammates at training camp for the first time after being sidelined by the COVID-19 virus.

DeShields had suffered some “mild symptoms” after testing positive with the virus before the Indians reported to Cleveland for the re-start of training camp last week. DeShields arrived a few days ago, but he was only cleared Saturday after twice testing negative.

Indians manager Terry Francona said DeShields, who was acquired in a trade that sent pitcher Corey Kluber to Texas in December, took batting practice and did some running.

“He’s been bottled up for close to three weeks, so it’s going to take a little while to get him back rolling,” Francona said. “But that was good to see.”

DeShields is one of 10 outfielders trying to win a spot on the club’s 30-man roster. He batted .249 and stole 24 bases in 118 games for the Rangers last season.

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New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms.

Manager Aaron Boone announced the diagnosis Saturday. He said Chapman “overall is doing well” but “will not be here for the foreseeable future.”

Chapman threw a bullpen session Tuesday, and Boone wouldn’t comment on whether he had been at Yankee Stadium since. Boone said the team had gone through contact tracing protocols, and no other players or personnel would be forced to isolate because of Chapman’s positive test.

The Yankees will open their regular season July 23 against the World Series champion Nationals at Washington. If Chapman isn’t back by the opener, Boone said left-hander Zack Britton would be a “natural guy” to replace him, but a formal decision hasn’t been made.

Chapman, a six-time All-Star, has 273 career saves, including 37 last season when he had a 2.21 ERA.

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The NHRA resumed its season Saturday in front of an expected crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Fans were not allowed at Friday’s practice session but returned in a limited capacity for qualifying NHRA President Glen Cromwell said ticket sales were capped at about 10 to 15% of normal capacity.

They also are expected to attend Sunday’s finals.

Most fans wore face coverings on a hot, sun-drenched day, complying with county guidelines, and observed social distancing in the stands, pits and at concession areas.

John Force Racing did not attend the first of two consecutive weeks of activity in Indianapolis.

The weekend ends a 138-day hiatus for America’s top drag racing series.

“The NHRA Task Force spent months going through detail after detail to get this done,” Cromwell told The Associated Press. “It’s been a lot of work the past 3 1/2 months.”

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Coronavirus cases spiking in the Las Vegas area contributed to the NHL choosing two Canadian cities to complete its season.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly on Saturday called the rise a “concern” to the league. He adds that it was “one of the reasons” the NHL chose to put games in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. Las Vegas was long considered a front-runner.

Daly says one player testing positive when play starts isn’t expected to shut down the playoffs, but an outbreak would change the equation. He didn’t say what the league considered an outbreak.

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David Beckham has presented a framed England soccer shirt to Captain Tom Moore, who was named the honorary captain of a special England Lionhearts team.

The Lionhearts are an initiative by England’s Football Association to celebrate 23 people who have inspired during the pandemic.

Beckham went to the Bedfordshire home of Captain Tom to say thank you to the World War II veteran.

Captain Tom was aged 99 in April when he decided to do laps of his backyard garden on his walker until his 100th birthday to fundraise for Britain’s National Health Service. He aimed for 1,000 pounds ($1,200). By his birthday on April 30, he raised nearly 33 million pounds ($42 million).

He was knighted in May.

Beckham said: “The highlight of my whole career was being made England captain. To have Sir Tom as our captain — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

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The Houston Astros have canceled their workout after learning that a staff member could have been exposed to a person outside the organization with the coronavirus.

It’s the second time this week the Astros have canceled a workout because of concerns about the pandemic. Houston also scrapped its Monday workout because of delays with testing results due to the holiday weekend, as did some other teams around the majors.

General manager James Click said they decided to cancel Saturday’s workout as a precaution.

“As part of MLB’s testing and reporting plan, we were alerted that a staff member was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization,” Click said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have canceled today’s workout. We are working closely with MLB and our team physicians to follow the established testing and cleaning protocols so that we can safely bring our players and staff back to the field as soon as possible.”

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Parma soccer club has announced that a non-playing member of the team tested positive for the coronavirus.

Parma says the person is asymptomatic and is being isolated according to Italian government protocols. The Serie A club adds that every other member of the team tested negative but that the rest of the squad was being kept under observation at its training center.

According to the league’s virus protocol, Parma can still play its home game against Bologna in the top tier on Sunday as usual.

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