The Latest: 76ers, Devils rescind employee pay cuts

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

RADIO.COM Staff
March 24, 2020 - 2:12 pm
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The Latest: 76ers, Devils rescind employee pay cuts

By The Associated Press

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

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The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers have done an about-face on cutting salaries for employees making more than $100,000. A day after announcing the temporary 20% pay cuts because of the economics effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the teams' co-owners rescinded them.

Co-owner Josh Harris says after listening to his staff and players, it’s clear that the pay cuts was the wrong decision.

“This is an extraordinary time in our world — unlike any most of us have ever lived through before — and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.”

The teams did not say whether they plan to maintain a four-day work week, which was part of the cuts. Employees benefits were never changed and the teams plan on keeping their 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. The NHL's Devils and the NBA's Sixers are owned by Harris and David Blitzer, who are the founders of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment.

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Five-time Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings says it was the “responsible choice” to postpone the Olympics.

“When you do something on a grand scale, you want to do it right,” she told The Associated Press. “Give time for the world to heal. I can’t imagine the enthusiasm that’s going to be coming next year, with the whole world coming together to watch this. I know the Japanese people are going to make the best of this.”

A three-time beach volleyball gold medalist, Walsh Jennings was in position to make the 2020 Games with new partner Brooke Sweat. They’re treating the coronavirus shutdown like an offseason, staying home with their families and working out on their own.

California authorities have taken down the nets all along the Los Angeles-area beaches to discourage people from gathering. Walsh Jennings and her husband, beach volleyball pro Casey Jennings, put up a mini-net in their yard.

Walsh Jennings says she understands why the IOC wanted to wait to make the decision.

“Can you imagine making this decision after how many years and how much blood and sweat on a global level? People are having a problem calling off weddings, and calling off little tournaments, so imagine with all the billions of dollars that’s gone into this,” she said. “They have a grieving process to go through. They have so many moving parts to think about.”

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Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics say the IOC and the Japanese government have ”chosen the best possible scenario” in postponing the Tokyo Games until next year.

The Paris organizers said in a statement Tuesday that “postponing the world's biggest sporting event is not an easy decision,” but that the IOC did the right thing in listening to “the concerns of the sports world.”

The statement added that the ”postponement of the Tokyo Games will make it possible to offer the athletes optimal conditions for preparation and competition."

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Road race world champion Mads Pedersen of Denmark says he is happy the International Olympic Committee made the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games on Tuesday rather than wait weeks or even two months.

Pedersen would have been among the favorites to win cycling gold this summer. He says he's sorry for the athletes who had planned their seasons around the Olympics. But he ultimately calls it the right decision, saying that “it shows that we are thinking above the sport and making everyone's health the priority.”

The world cycling calendar has been suspended since the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Officials have not decided whether the Tour de France will carry on this July, but most of the events leading up to the Grand Tour race have been canceled or postponed.

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The Montreal Canadiens are temporarily laying off 60% of employees while the National Hockey League season is suspended.

Groupe CH, which owns hockey's most storied club, says the layoffs go into effect March 30. Groupe CH also is establishing a $6 million assistance fund that will enhance employment insurance to make sure employees receive 80% of their salary for the following eight weeks and be available for loans to employees.

Owner Geoff Molson says: “We are working extremely hard to limit the impact this situation will have on our employees.”

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One of the key worldwide athlete groups that called for postponement of the Tokyo Games termed the IOC’s announcement a “bittersweet victory.”

The group Global Athlete says it was appropriate for the International Olympic Committee to make the call Tuesday, instead of on a four-week timeline that it had suggested over the weekend.

In a statement, the group said that while it commended the IOC for its decision, it also pressed the committee to engage with athletes while deciding on a new date for the Olympics.

The statement said, “As shown over the past several weeks, no athletes, no Games."

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World swimming body FINA says it will talk to the Japanese organizers of the 2021 world championships about a possible schedule clash with the Tokyo Olympics.

The championships are planned for July 16-Aug. 1 in Fukuoka.

If an exact one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics is agreed upon, it would take place July 23-Aug. 8.

FINA says talks with Japanese officials will “determine flexibility around the dates of the competition, if necessary and in agreement with the IOC.”

The governing body cites priorities including “athlete wellbeing and maximizing opportunities for aquatics stars to compete at the highest level.”

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The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers have cut salaries for employees making more than $100,000 and put them on a four-day work week as the franchises deal with the impact of the coronavirus.

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CEO Scott O'Neil announced the move in a letter posted on the Devils' website.

The cuts are scheduled to last for three months and will amount to roughly 6% of the employees' yearly salary if the pandemic subsides.

The Devils of the NHL and the Sixers of the NBA are owned by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who are the founders of HBSE.

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Modern pentathlon has canceled the remainder of its World Cup season and postponed the world championships from May to September or October.

The four remaining World Cups — two in Sofia, Bulgaria, another in Budapest, Hungary, and the final in Seoul — had already been pushed to May and June but have now been officially canceled.

The worlds, relocated from Xiamen, China, to Cancun, Mexico, and set for May 25-31, were rescheduled. The new dates were to be determined.

Governing body UIPM says it welcomed the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and will finalize plans to revise qualification.

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The track world championships in Eugene, Oregon, could be moved from 2021 to 2022 after the Olympics were postponed.

World Athletics says it is talking with organizers about “alternative dates, including dates in 2022.”

The championships in Eugene are due to run from Aug. 6-15, 2021. That would conflict with the Olympics if the same July-August slot as originally planned for 2020 is used next year.

World Athletics adds that it is looking at a new qualification system to account for the postponement and for the havoc wreaked on the 2020 schedule by the coronavirus outbreak.

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The president of the International Paralympic Committee says postponing the Olympics and Paralympics to 2021 was “the only logical option.”

The Paralympics are governed by the same contract as the Tokyo Olympics.

IPC president Andrew Parsons says “by taking this decision now, everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement, including all Para athletes, can fully focus on their own health and well-being and staying safe during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

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USA Cycling chief executive Rob DeMartini tells The Associated Press that athletes were surveyed over the weekend by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and that the consensus was that postponing the Tokyo Games was the correct call.

DeMartini says “training disruption and qualification challenges are too big to overcome even if the environment returns to a degree of normal by late summer."

DeMartini says that he is a fan of a “soonest possible” reschedule but not until the situation is a bit more predictable. That could mean early in 2021 or an Olympics that is pushed into the fall of next year.

DeMartini says “we just need to be sure everything is being done to protect their safety."

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IOC president Thomas Bach says he did not discuss new dates for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

One option would be July 23-Aug. 8. That is exactly one year from the now-postponed July 24-Aug. 9 dates.

Bach says the exact dates is a question for the Tokyo organizing committee and an International Olympic Committee panel overseeing the preparations.

Swimming and track have their biennial world championships scheduled to start in July or August 2021.

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IOC president Thomas Bach says “alarming figures” in the past few days about the coronavirus were key to deciding the Tokyo Olympics must be postponed.

Bach cites the World Health Organization “saying in the last couple of hours that Africa has to prepare for the worst.”

The IOC has been advised by the WHO, which said Monday the pandemic is accelerating.

Bach says the original health issue for hosting the Tokyo Olympics was “could Japan offer a safe welcome" and the IOC was confident it could.

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The Tokyo Olympics have been officially postponed until 2021.

The International Olympic Committee along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and local organizers have decided that the Tokyo Games cannot go ahead as scheduled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The IOC says the games will be held “not later than summer 2021” but they will still be called the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says IOC President Thomas Bach has agreed “100%” to his proposal of postponing the Tokyo Olympics for about one year until 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bach had previously said the IOC would make an announcement about postponing the 2020 Olympics in the next four weeks.

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Taiwan's professional baseball league has set April 11 as the revised date for opening day.

The start of the Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League's season has been delayed twice this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CPBL's website says the opening game would go ahead in a closed stadium but there could be up to 150 season ticket holders allowed entry under strict social distancing guidelines if the government approves.

Sports leagues across Asia have been postponed or suspended because of the virus outbreak. The professional baseball and soccer leagues in Japan are aiming to start or resume their seasons in late April.

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Japan’s NHK public television says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics during talks with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Abe says a postponement is unavoidable if the 2020 Games cannot be held in a complete manner amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe held telephone talks with Bach after IOC said it would make a decision on the Tokyo Games over the next four weeks.

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The European club rugby finals in May have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Governing body European Professional Club Rugby announced the decision a day after a conference call by the board.

The Champions Cup and second-tier Challenge Cup had already suspended the quarterfinals scheduled for next month. Now the semifinals on May 1-3 and the finals in Marseille set for May 22-23 are off.

EPCR says it “remains committed to completing the 2019-20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season.”

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The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will start Thursday as planned in northeastern Fukushima prefecture but with no torch, no torchbearers and no public because of the coronavirus outbreak.

There will be an Olympic flame carried in a lantern and transported by a vehicle along what organizers hope will be empty roadsides.

The Tokyo Games and the relay have been caught in limbo since International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said four weeks were needed to decide on an inevitable postponement of the planned opening on July 24. He has ruled out a cancellation.

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Australian soccer's A-League has suspended its season indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.

That brings an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand.

Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson says the latest measures imposed by the federal government made it impossible for the A-League to continue. The league had only a few regular-season games remaining before the playoffs. Johnson said the postponement will be reviewed on April 22.

Johnson says “as a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible.”

Newcastle's 2-1 win over Melbourne City at an empty stadium on Monday was the last game completed. Sydney FC leads the standings with 48 points after 20 games.

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