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    Major League Baseball is extending its financial support to minor league players through May while suspending their contracts because of the new coronavirus pandemic. Minor league contracts have a provision allowing them to be suspended 'during any national emergency.' MLB said Tuesday it had told the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, that it was unable to supply players to minor league affiliates because of the emergency. MLB announced March 19 that it was giving minor leaguers $400 weekly allowances through April 8, the day before the minor league season was scheduled to start. The commissioner's office said Tuesday that minor leaguers will receive the allowances and health benefits through the earlier of May 31 or opening day. Major and minor league seasons are on hold due to the new coronavirus. Weekly minimum salaries on full-season minor league teams range from $290 at Class A to $502 at Triple-A over the five-month season. MLB reached an agreement last week with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which covers players in the minors who have big- league contracts. The teams are providing $170 million in advance salaries to that group. MLB's minor league initiative also does not cover players on the restricted, voluntary retired, disqualified or ineligible lists; and those already receiving housing or food from teams. In addition, each team will make arrangements for players on Dominican Summer League rosters. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Barcelona had been on track for a record season in revenues, set to surpass 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for the first time in club history. A month later, the club is bracing for losses caused by coronavirus pandemic. “We are the club with the greatest revenue in the world, but it's true that we won't be able to reach the 1.05 billion euros that we had budgeted for,” Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said in a series of interviews published by Spanish media on Tuesday. “We were on a record pace in February, well above our expectations.” Bartomeu's comments came a day after the club cut players' salaries by 70%, allowing it to save nearly 16 million euros ($17 million) monthly, which he said won't be enough to make up for the loss of income if competitions remain on hold and the lockdown continues in place for much longer. “We have no income from ticket sales, TV rights, hospitality, stores, the museum ...' he said. “It's a very significant decrease in revenue and we are trying to compensate it with the reduction of salaries of athletes and employees, including executives, and with other ways of reducing costs and projects that can be put on hold.' Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic, with nearly 95,000 cases of infections and more than 8,100 deaths. It recorded 849 new deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily toll since the pandemic hit the southern European nation. Bartomeu said he hopes the current situation will start improving in about two months, but losses will likely be inevitable if normality is not restored. “For the last few days we have been studying how to adjust when the pandemic is over,” Bartomeu said. “We will change models and the way we do things. We will have to adapt and be a pioneer.” The president said the millions in monthly savings represent nearly 6% of the athletes' annual earnings. He downplayed conflicts with the first-team players, who on Monday published a letter critical of team officials saying they put the squad under pressure. Bartomeu said the first meeting with players took place on March 20 with a video conference with Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto. He said he didn't want the pay cut to be an imposition and that players were on board with it from the start. “There were 10 days of constant dialogue,” the president said. “There were a lot of rumors, and certainly there were people inside and outside the club who gave opinions without knowing the real situation. There are lots of measures to help soften the decrease in income, but none could take place without the agreement of the first-team players because they are the club's foundation.” The players and the club were also contributing to the salaries of the other workers. Bartomeu said Barcelona's measures were similar to those of other top European clubs, including Juventus, which recently also reduced salaries in agreement with its players in Italy. Atlético Madrid was doing the same in Spain, although Real Madrid has yet to make announcements about its financial changes during the crisis. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
  • The long-awaited look at Michael Jordan’s last championship season with the Chicago Bulls is finally set for release. ESPN and Netflix announced on Tuesday that the 10-part documentary series called “The Last Dance” will run in the U.S. over five consecutive Sunday nights starting April 19 and running through May 17. There will be two hour-long episodes on each of those nights, airing back-to-back at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern. “April 19th can’t come fast enough. I CAN NOT WAIT!!” Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted upon hearing news of the series’ long-awaited release. The series will include never-before-seen footage from that season, one where the team chased its sixth championship in a span of eight years. “As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience,” ESPN said in a statement. “We’ve heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that.” ESPN was originally planning to release the documentary in June, when this season’s NBA Finals were to be played. Without sports to air right now because of the global coronavirus pandemic, those plans were accelerated. The documentary is nearly a quarter-century in the making. It was born in the fall of 1997 when Jordan, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and coach Phil Jackson allowed an NBA Entertainment film crew permission to follow the team all season. ESPN said the series includes “extensive profiles of Jordan’s key teammates including Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr,” along with Jackson. “Michael Jordan and the ‘90s Bulls weren't just sports superstars, they were a global phenomenon,” said Jason Hehir, who directed the series. “Making ‘The Last Dance’ was an incredible opportunity to explore the extraordinary impact of one man and one team. For nearly three years, we searched far and wide to present the definitive story of an era-defining dynasty and to present these sports heroes as humans.” The series will air in the U.S. on ESPN and internationally on Netflix. Subscribers on Netflix can view two new episodes on each Monday from April 20 through May 18, all of them dropping those days at 3:01 a.m. Eastern time. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world: ___ The Bundesliga soccer season will remain suspended through April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 36 clubs in Germany’s top two divisions have agreed to accept the recommendation of the league authority to extend the period without games to April 30 at least. The last game played was on March 11. League president Christian Seifert says “the most important thing without question is controlling the outbreak of the virus and especially protecting groups at risk.” Training for the 36 clubs is to remain stopped until April 5. UEFA is to meet with its 55 members on Wednesday with the fate of the remaining Champions League, Europa League and international games to be discussed. ___ Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend has agreed to a 25% salary deferral from April 1 to Sept. 1. The coaches of two professional sides, Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh and Dave Rennie at Glasgow, have made the same agreement, though Rennie begins his new job as Australia coach in July. Scottish Rugby also announced CEO Mark Dodson was taking a 30% deferral, and the board 25%. Last week, England coach Eddie Jones accepted a 25% pay cut. ___ ABC/ESPN has moved up the premier of the 10-part docuseries “The Last Dance” featuring Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls to April 19. The docuseries will be shown on ESPN on Sunday nights and on Netflix outside of the United States. It was originally scheduled to be released in June but sports fans have clamored on social media for the series to be moved up in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and with most sporting events canceled or postponed. The news was announced on Good Morning America. The Bulls won six NBA titles during the 1990s and were led by Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr and Dennis Rodman. ___ Hungarian Olympic swimmer Boglarka Kapas says she has tested positive for COVID-19. The 26-year-old Kapas writes in an Instagram post that she had to submit to testing in order to return to training. She says her first test was negative but a second test showed she has the virus. She is staying in quarantine at home for two weeks. Kapas says “I don’t have any symptoms yet and that’s why it’s important for you to know that even if you feel healthy you can spread the virus.' Kapas won gold in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2019 world championships in China and a bronze medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. ___ Global soccer union FIFPro says seven-time Slovakian champion Zilina is opting for bankruptcy after offering players a “take it or leave it” 80% pay cut. FIFPro says it believes Zilina is the first European club to go into liquidation since the coronavirus outbreak. The union says Zilina “refused to negotiate with the (Slovak) player union.' The move follows the club selling 20-year-old forward Róbert Boženík to Feyenoord in January for a reported fee of about 4.5 million euros ($4.9 million). Zilina is second in the now-suspended Slovak league. The club played in the Champions League in 2010-11 but lost all six games in a group that included Chelsea and Marseille. ___ The Badminton World Federation has frozen the world rankings while the circuit is suspended. The rankings have been backdated to March 17. That was the day after the last international tournament, the All England Open. They will be the basis for entry and seeding into the next international tournaments, whenever they are. The world circuit is suspended to the end of April, but the BWF expects more tournaments to be put off in May and June. It says it has yet to decide how the rankings will be unfrozen. The BWF says 'it is difficult to outline the exact procedure until we have an exact overview of what the international calendar will look like once play resumes and suspended tournaments have been rescheduled.' With the Tokyo Olympics delayed until 2021, the BWF says it is reviewing the Olympic qualification process. It notes the consequences of freezing the world rankings does not apply to Olympic qualifying. ___ Two-time mixed doubles champion Jamie Murray says he believes Wimbledon will be canceled. The All England Club board will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the fate of the 2020 tournament. The grasscourt season lasts only six weeks and Wimbledon is staged when daylight hours are the longest in Britain. The club has acknowledged the short window available to it and ruled out playing without spectators. The French Open has been postponed from May to September. The brother of two-time Wimbledon singles champion Andy Murray was asked whether he thinks a cancellation is more likely than a postponement. He told BBC Radio 4: “I think so. I think for them it is difficult to move the tournament back for many reasons, because you are running into other tournaments.” ___ Organizers of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Roger Federer’s hometown of Basel say ticket sales will start on schedule on Thursday. The tournament is due to run from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1. Organizers say tickets will be refunded “should the coronavirus crisis continue and the Swiss tennis highlight not take place.” The ATP Tour is currently suspended until at least June. Federer and his wife donated 1 million Swiss francs ($1.04 million) last week to help families in need in his home country during the pandemic. Federer is a 10-time champion at the Swiss Indoors and will turn 39 before this year's tournament. He was twice a ball boy at the event and made his debut as a player in 1998 when he was 17. He lost in the first round to Andre Agassi. Federer posted footage on his social media accounts on Monday of him practising trick shots in his rehabilitation after surgery on his left knee in February. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The countdown clocks have been reset and are ticking again for the Tokyo Olympics. The model outside Tokyo Station, and others across the Japanese capital, were switched on almost immediately after organizers announced the new dates — July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021. The clocks read 479 days to go. That seems a long way away, but also small and insignificant compared with the worldwide fallout from the coronavirus. Then again, it's not much time to reassemble the first Olympics to be postponed since the modern games began 124 years ago; not for 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes, and not for sponsors, broadcasters, the fans that have already bought tickets and Japanese organizers and taxpayers who have spent billions and will have to come up with billions more to pay for the setback. “I believe that these Olympics are going to have great historical significance,” Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, said after confirming the new dates. Mori, an 82-year-old former Japanese prime minister, also recalled there's no guarantee that the coronavirus pandemic will be under control a year from now. That includes the new dates for the Paralympics now set for Aug. 24-Sept. 5. “This is a prayer that we have and I do believe that someone is going to listen to our prayers,' Mori said. After cursory talk about an Olympics in the spring, the new summer dates overlap perfectly with the same time slot that was picked for 2020. Organizers are hoping to overlay the old plans with new plans, keeping venues in place, securing thousands of rooms in the Athletes Village, deploying the same volunteers, and letting people who bought tickets keep them. The summer date also avoids conflicts with the crowded North American and European sports schedules. But summer in Tokyo also means grappling with intense heat and humidity, the major worry for games organizers before the pandemic. “Obviously in the summer there might be typhoons and the heat problems,” Mori said. 'However, this situation is the same. We always had those problems so we will be prepared for those issues.' Though the international sports federations went along with the new dates, some of them, like the International Triathlon Union, preferred the cooler spring during Japan's cherry blossom season. But that was overridden by the easiest route to lining up venues. “We are having discussions with all the venues at the moment,' said Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee. “At this point we don't have a final decision. However, some problems have already become apparent.' Muto said organizers haven't yet heard from any venues saying the rescheduled Olympic events can't be staged there next year. “There are a lot of venues that can't make a decision yet. So we have to negotiate with them,' he said. “If we have to make a change to the venues, then we might have to change the competition schedule as well. “I personally don't think there are going to be many major changes to the (competition) schedule,' he added. “But our discussions haven't gone that far yet.” David Wallechinsky, the president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said the Olympics in 2021 — they will still be officially called the 2020 Olympics — could become a symbol for a world pulling together after the pandemic. “I see this postponement as more of an opportunity for the Olympic Movement, rather than a setback,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. He said an outright cancellation, rather than postponement, probably was not feasible. “From a financial point of view, cancellation was not a viable option,” he said. “The repercussions would have been complex and widespread.” The Olympic flame, which arrived from Greece on March 12, will stay temporarily in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. The Olympics were supposed to focus on that area’s struggles from the earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in 2011. But the flame’s symbolism next year is likely to shift to recovery from the pandemic. Mori and Muto have both acknowledged rejiggering the Olympics will incur “massive costs.” Estimates range between an added $2 billion-$6 billion. And Japanese taxpayers will pick up most of the bills, as they have for most of the preparations so far. Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up. “There will be costs and we will need to consider them one by one,” Muto said. 'I think that will be the tougher process.” Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are already twice that much. When it won the bid in 2013, Tokyo said the Olympics could cost $7.3 billion. All of the spending is public money except for $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget. About $3.3 billion in that budget has been raised from local sponsorship deals driven by Dentsu Inc., Japan's giant advertising and public relations company. That sponsorship amount is almost three times more than any previous Olympics. “The current sponsor contracts will expire this year,” Muto said. “And since the games will be extended until next year, we would like to ask them for extensions. I'm not hearing they have any specific objections to this. And whether we would like to ask them for more contributions — nothing has been decided.' The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion to the Tokyo Olympics, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC's contribution goes into the operating budget. The IOC had income in the latest four-year Olympic cycle of $5.7 billion, and 73% was from selling broadcast rights with 18% from long-term sponsor revenue. American broadcaster NBC makes up half of the IOC's broadcast revenue and pays more than $1 billion for the rights to each Olympics. The IOC also has almost $2 billion in reserve funds and insurance to cover emergency situations. “NBC, in particular, has a lot to say,” Wallechinsky said. “That's why the games are scheduled for the summer, which is not ideal for athletes competing in outdoors sports. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics took place in October, when the weather was more favorable.' The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of Japan's war with China. The Olympics in 1916 and 1944 were also canceled because of wars. And these Olympics have had a bumpy time, which included the resignation last year of the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee amid a bribery scanda l. “Even the 1940 Tokyo Olympics were planned for September-October,' Wallechinsky said. 'For 2020-2021, you see the power of television.” ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • The NCAA will permit Division I spring-sport athletes — such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility. The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring-sport athletes regardless of their year in school a way to get back the season they lost, but it did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year. Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision because many athletes in those sports had completed all or most of their regular seasons, the council decided. The council is made up of college sports administrators representing all 32 D-I conferences, plus two members of the student-athlete advisory committee. Earlier in the day, 60 SAAC members released a letter calling for the council to provide the extra eligibility to all athletes whose seasons were impacted by the COVID-19 related shutdown. Voting is weighted to give the Power Five conferences more say. Chairwoman Grace Calhoun, who is Penn's athletic director, declined to reveal the final vote. “At the end we really did coalesce around all of the decisions that we made today,” Calhoun said. “They were strongly supported.” How much scholarship money will be made available to each athlete whose college career would have ended this spring will be determined by the athlete's school. The amount could range from nothing to as much the athlete received had been receiving. The added scholarships could cost a school hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it would usually spend on spring-sport athletes. The extra expenses come at a time when athletic departments could be facing cutbacks. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which cut the association's distribution to members by $375 million this year. “We had long discussions around the fact that this does not avoid substantially difficult circumstances, but what we felt was important was to localize that decision-making and to ensure that we were as permissive as possible,' Calhoun said. “At the end of the day, each institution is going to have to figure out what it can do.” Schools will be able to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility in 2020-21. Roster and scholarship limits for teams will be adjusted next season to fit returning seniors and incoming freshman. Similar changes have already been approved in Division II. Katie Hoeg, an All-American lacrosse player from North Carolina, said she has a teaching and coaching job lined up after she graduates this spring, but now plans to return for another season as a graduate student. “I'm choosing my passion,' she said. 'I can't imagine ending my lacrosse career the way this season is going. I was pretty hopeful this would be a possibility. I'm really excited this decision has been made.” Nebraska-Omaha softball player Hailey Bartz was planning to graduate in December and move on from school. Now she's not so sure. “I've been speaking with my family about it and trying to figure out pros and cons. Do I want to take advantage of that year? Do I not?' Bartz said. 'Some of my teammates have their schooling set up, full-time jobs. You have your life planned out and then this kind of pushes everything back another year. At the same time it's really hard to pass up because it's a game of love.” NCAA Division I rules allow athletes to have four seasons of competition in a five-year period. Schools will be allowed to apply for waivers to restore one of those seasons for any athlete who competed while eligible in the spring season shortened by COVID-19 in 2020. After the 2021 spring season, scholarship and roster limits will apply to athletes granted the waiver. “This has a four- or five-year effect depending on how you want to count it,” said Marquette athletic director Bill Scholl, whose school fields track, lacrosse, tennis and golf teams in the spring. “So the roster management piece is just something our coaches, we’re going to have to figure out and work our way through.’’ Calhoun said the council did not consider the possibility of the fall sports season, including football, being interrupted. Football generates billions of dollars, especially for Power Five conferences. Losing that would be potentially devastating to schools that play major college football. “There was an acknowledgment that we don't know the future and if other seasons are canceled other things happen in the future we'll have to take that up with the individual merits of the case at time,” Calhoun said. ___ AP sports writers Eric Olson in Omaha, Nebraska, and Steve Megargee in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
  • Red Sox starter Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Monday, his 31st birthday, waiting 11 days after doctors said he needed the operation because of difficulty in scheduling during the coronavirus pandemic. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said the team worked with doctors to make sure the procedure didn't burden an already-stressed healthcare system. 'Under normal circumstances we might have been able to have it happen a little bit sooner,' Bloom said on a conference call with reporters. “We know that this is not life and death. ... It’s apples and oranges with this versus when you talk about something that’s life-threatening.' Dr. Neal ElAttrache replaced Sale's ulnar collateral ligament at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles; the Red Sox said the surgery was a success. Sale is expected to miss 14-15 months, which would bring him back in the middle of the 2021 season. “We look forward to his return sometime next year,” Bloom said. Also Monday, Red Sox general manager Brian O'Halloran said that the team will wait until next week to consider whether to reopen its facility in Fort Myers, Florida, where a minor leaguer tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24. “The reports that we are getting is that he is fine,” O'Halloran said. “There have been no other positive tests.” Sale missed the start of spring training with an illness the team described as a flu that morphed into pneumonia. The Red Sox then said he had a flexor strain near the elbow, but the team hoped he would avoid ligament replacement surgery. A seven-time All-Star, Sale is 109-73 in 10 major league seasons and entering the second season of a $160 million, six-year contract. After helping the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series, he went 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts last year — his fewest wins and starts, highest ERA, and the first time he failed to finish among the top six in Cy Young Award voting in any full season as a starter. “Tommy John's been a factor in my life for 20 years now,' Sale said this month. “It's on the table, but it's always been on the table. So, that's not something I'm going to worry myself with. I can't go out there with that in the back of my mind. I have to have the confidence that what we're doing is going to work.” ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • As Major League Baseball and the players' union contemplate various ways to create a schedule for whenever the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart raised a concern that is surely shared by others around the sport: Could trying to cram in games, and maybe extend the season into late November or December, lead to injuries? 'The player safety piece is a big thing,' Barnhart, a union representative, said Monday on a conference call with reporters. That involves how many off-days are salvaged in 2020, how many times teams are told to play in any given week and how 2021 could be affected if there is a shorter-than-usual offseason. 'Moving forward, I don't think you can do things that are going to compromise the integrity of next season, as well. What I mean by that is forcing the issue of getting so many games in that you risk injury, and you risk major injury to players, because you are trying to get in as many games as you can,' Barnhart said. 'This is all assumptions and thoughts from me specifically -- it's not from the union -- but you're going to have to protect us as players,' he continued. 'And if you can't do that, I think that would be where I personally would kind of draw the line.' That's also top of mind for Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, who already has been ruled out for 2020 while recovering from a second reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. He's brought up the idea of trying to return if the season goes into November, but said that's been 'shut down pretty quickly.' Speaking more generally about the effect an altered season could have on guys around the majors, Taillon said: 'This is a unique situation. We're going to have to be careful health-wise.' No one knows when baseball and other suspended sports will resume, because no one knows when life might return to normal in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak. Three-quarters of a million people around the world have become infected and over 35,000 have died, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University, counts that include more than 140,000 infections and more than 2,500 deaths in the U.S. Spring training was halted on March 12; opening day was supposed to be last week and won't happen any earlier than mid-May. 'At this point, it's hard to say what can or should be done. MLB is exhausting all of their brainpower and manpower, along with the 30 clubs, to come up with some ideas and what's the best way to play a regular season in as many games as possible and get to a playoff scenario,' said Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, whose team has turned over the grounds of its spring facility to public testing for the coronavirus. 'As the commissioner said, we're going to need to get creative,' Rizzo added. 'But beyond that, we're just speculating on all of these things.' MLB and its players are hoping to complete initial discussions on scheduling by April 10, and among the proposals under consideration: pushing back the end of the season, even if it involves using neutral sites and domes to avoid colder weather in many cities; increasing doubleheaders to get more games in per week than usual; playing games without spectators; changing the postseason format. 'We've been told,' said Taillon, a union rep, 'there's no such thing as a bad idea right now. ' Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, also a union rep, described a recent call about scheduling options with other players this way: 'We were basically talking about potential scenarios and how crazy this season will be, how challenging it will be.' Barnhart, for one, is realistic about what is going to drive the ultimate decisions about what a season might look like. 'It goes without saying that, as players, we want to play as many games (as possible), not only because we love playing, but also we want to make as much money as possible. That's the God's honest truth about it,' he said. 'And the same goes with ownership and all of that. So everybody wants to make money.' ___ AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Stephen Hawkins and Joe Kay contributed to this report. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Free agent safety Eric Reid wants the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement invalidated over language added following ratification of the pact earlier this month. He is calling for an investigation and a re-vote. In a letter to the NFLPA on Monday, Reid's lawyers said language posted on the players association's website after passage of the agreement by a 1,019-959 vote on March 15 contains different language than the one players signed off on. The new CBA is set to begin with the upcoming 2020 season and extend through 2030. The letter from attorneys Ben Meiselas and Ray Genco highlight a difference in wording in the section about the league's disability plan that affects hundreds, and potentially thousands, of ex-players who applied for Social Security disability insurance payments before Jan. 1, 2015. In the version the players received and approved, those offsets applied only to players who applied after Jan. 1, 2015. In a series of tweets Monday, Reid, a vocal opponent of the agreement, provided screenshots of the CBA agreement that showed the language added after players approved the deal. The NFL declined comment and the NFLPA did not respond to a request for comment on Reid's letter or say why the language was modified after the vote. Meiselas told The Associated Press by phone Monday that the discrepancy was discovered when lawyers were 'working with families of disabled players to guide them through the process.' 'We've been obviously critical of the CBA from the outset because it takes from disabled players. And so in advising them, we were looking at it and pointing out where they had issues and where they were going to be likely getting less money,' Meiselas said. 'And then we saw it, and we go, 'I don't remember seeing this in Paragraph B.'' Meiselas questioned why the language was added and why the NFL and players' union weren't transparent about the change. 'And so Eric's letter demands the invalidation and an investigation and a re-vote because how do you stick in language that players didn't know they were voting for?' Meiselas said. 'It's perplexing and concerning even if the changes were minor that there was no transparency and no explanation. But here, the changes are major and drastically and dramatically impact disability benefits to players.' He said a re-vote seems like 'the only logical answer.' 'When there's a potential manipulation of the language to an agreement, what's the alternative?' Meiselas said, adding, 'We're waiting on an explanation at this point.' ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Despite some early differences of opinion, the 33 sports that make up the Summer Olympic program voted unanimously on Monday to delay the Tokyo Games by a full year. Moments later, local organizers and the International Olympic Committee made it official. “We were the last to express our view. We’re the ones who have problems with the calendar to deal with,” said Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). “Two minutes after the end of our call, the press release was issued,” Ricci Bitti told The Associated Press in an interview. IOC President Thomas Bach held three conference calls before giving the go-ahead to make official the July 23-Aug. 8 dates for 2021. First, Bach consulted with the local organizers in Tokyo. Then he talked with the IOC’s executive board. The ASOIF — which represents the international track and field, swimming and gymnastics federations as well as every other Summer Games sport — came last. “We knew last night. … Today the vote was unanimous by the 33 federations,” Ricci Bitti said by phone from Switzerland. “Everyone was convinced that this was the best solution.” Including NBA, Major League Baseball, golf and tennis players was decisive. So was keeping NBC happy. Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s when Ricci Bitti became extremely busy, working day and night to get all of the sports involved on the same page. As a former president of the International Tennis Federation, where he had to deal with sometimes conflicting forces such as the ATP and WTA tours, Ricci Bitti is experienced at getting various factions to form a consensus. “When we started to discuss it everyone had their own ideas,” Ricci Bitti said, referring to opinions from the triathlon and equestrian federations, which would have preferred holding the games earlier in the year due to concerns over hot weather in Tokyo. In the end, though, the prospect of placing the games earlier in the year — when many professional athletes would be unavailable — became untenable. “The biggest reason is participation. For other dates, many sports — especially the professional ones — wouldn’t have had this (availability),” Ricci Bitti said. “There are too many things that coincide.” He added that “at least six or seven professional sports” wouldn’t guarantee that their athletes would participate if the games were held earlier. Holding the games in May or June would have allowed track and field and swimming world championships to go ahead as planned next year in July and August — but too many other major sports would have been affected negatively. “During our opening discussions when some were pushing to have the games earlier, I said no. Because the Tour de France and Wimbledon are too important,” Ricci Bitti said. “Because we were talking about a few weeks earlier. There were a lot of options. There was the spring option, a few weeks earlier, and midsummer. In the end, the summer was the only possible time. “Everyone has their own problems. We look at it all generally,” he said. “When FINA (the International Swimming Federation) and World Athletics generously proposed to move their events, the problem was mostly resolved.” While FINA is considering moving its worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, to another period in 2021, World Athletics is delaying its showcase event until 2022. “This gives our athletes the time they need to get back into training and competition,” World Athletics said. “Everyone needs to be flexible and compromise.” Another major factor in choosing the dates: The IOC gets 73% of its $5.7 billion income in a four-year Olympic cycle from selling broadcast rights. About half of that TV income is from American network NBC. “American TV was in agreement,” Ricci Bitti said. “Clearly they were consulted. With the current professional sports calendar, really the only time available is the summer. Otherwise there are too many things going on at the same time. “The professional calendar is no longer athlete-oriented; it’s business-oriented.” For the ASOIF, the concern now is what a full-year delay means for its federations’ bottom lines — especially for smaller sports like archery and modern pentathlon. “Of our 33 federations, 15 to 20 are very dependent on Olympics funding,” Ricci Bitti said. “They’ll get to 2021, but in what condition?” Overall, though, keeping the dates in the usual end of July-beginning of August period was the only solution. “Totally. This is what we were working toward,” Ricci Bitti said. “We’re tired. But we’re happy because now it’s decided.” ___ AP Sports Writer Chris Lehourites in London contributed to this report. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf