Tour de France postponed as major sports events get canceled and delayed amid pandemic

claudio.arnese/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The world's top cyclists will wait to compete for the yellow jersey after race organizers announced the Tour de France will be moved to August.

"Following the President’s address on Monday evening, where large-scale events were banned in France until mid-July as a part of the fight against the spread of COVID-19, the [organizers] of the Tour de France, in agreement with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), have decided to postpone the Tour de France to Saturday 29th August to Sunday 20th September 2020," the Tour announced in a press release on Wednesday.

The famed men's multi-stage bicycle race, which is primarily held in France with occasional passes through nearby countries, was initially scheduled from June 27 to July 19.

As countries around the world work to slow the spread of coronavirus, the health emergency has forced changes to major sporting events amid the uncertainty due to the disease.

The Tour de France will follow the same route, with no changes, from Nice to Paris.

"Over the last few weeks, there has been constant communication between riders, teams, the organisers as well as other relevant third parties all with the support of the UCI, who are responsible for arranging a new global cycling schedule, in which the Tour de France takes pride of place," race event organizers said.

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Houston Astros star Justin Verlander and Kate Upton donate his MLB paychecks to COVID-19 relief

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(HOUSTON) -- MLB star Justin Verlander and his wife, model Kate Upton, recently announced the generous way they are giving back amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Houston Astros pitcher and Upton will donate the weekly paychecks he is receiving during the MLB shutdown while the season is suspended to different COVID-19 relief organizations.

The couple, who have been married since 2017, shared what moved them to make this decision in an Instagram video posted Saturday.

"Obviously, this is an extremely difficult time for the entire world," Verlander said. "There’s so many people that are in need, whether it’s those that are on the front lines battling this disease head on or someone who’s at home and has lost their job and needs to provide basic necessities, such as food and water."

"As soon as the first paycheck is received we will be highlighting the first organization," Verlander wrote in the caption of his post. "We know everyone is impacted by this crisis, but for those who are able, we encourage you to stay home to help flatten the curve and look to those around you who need a helping hand."

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement last month that players on rosters and the injured list will receive full service time if any of the season's games are played.

If the pandemic prevents the entire season from occurring, these players will receive the same amount of service time they had in 2019.

Verlander is one of the many athletes stepping up to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tom Brady recently announced he is donating 10 million meals to Feeding America through his partnership with private aviation company Wheels Up for its "Meals Up" initiative. Russell Wilson and his wife, singer Ciara, also pledged to donate 10 million meals with the aviation company to Feeding America.

Check out some other famous figures who are raising awareness to food banks and various relief initiatives here.

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Tom Brady donates 10 million meals through Wheels Up partnership amid COVID-19

Al Powers / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Tom Brady is one of the many athletes giving back during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback announced he is donating 10 million meals to Feeding America on Thursday to help those in need during this time.

The donation was made through Brady's partnership with private aviation company Wheels Up for its "Meals Up" initiative.

Feeding America expressed their appreciation for his contribution in a tweet. "Such an amazing gift! Thank you, Tom, for helping us get much-needed meals to our neighbors during this uncertain time," the nonprofit organization posted.

The "Meals Up" initiative was launched in part by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife singer Ciara with Wheels Up.

The couple pledged to donate 10 million meals with the aviation company to Feeding America.

"The reality is that a lot of people are facing tough, tough times right now, and we're all facing it in different ways," Wilson said while appearing on CNBC Tuesday. "There is going to be people let go of their jobs. I think about the young kids across the country that may not have a mom or a dad, or their family situation may not be the best financially, and they're going to be looking for food."

Every dollar donated to Feeding America's food banks can provide at least 10 meals.

Check out some other famous figures who are raising awareness to food banks and various relief initiatives here.

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NFL agent’s parents die 6 minutes apart

da-kuk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- NFL agent Buddy Baker said his parents died six minutes apart from COVID-19.

The couple, married for 51 years, were in "perfect health" before contracting the virus, Baker said in a video posted to Twitter.

"Hopefully this can be a catalyst for a change. Practice social distancing, wash your hands as regularly as you can and importantly stay at home," said Baker, who represents Washington Redskins running back Terry McLaurin and Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, among others.

"It's going to take all of us banding together and deciding we're gonna stop the spread of this virus," Baker said.

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Wimbledon canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

kireewongfoto/iStock(LONDON) -- The 2020 Wimbledon championships has been canceled due to the escalating worldwide coronavirus pandemic and will next be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, said Wednesday in a statement, "This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen."

"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships," Hewitt said.

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NBA star Russell Westbrook details how he’s helping LA families hit hard by coronavirus

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- As the NBA season remains at a standstill, one of its star players has found a way to lend a helping hand to those most in need amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook joined Good Morning America via Skype from his home to discuss how he and his wife Nina have joined forces with Mayor Eric Garcetti's office through their Why Not? Foundation to launch the Angeleno Campaign.

"I'm excited about it. It's a campaign that's something that will be from my foundation finding ways to give cash and give access to families and people that's in need, especially in a time like this," he explained. "Obviously in times like this, you have to find ways to immediately impact as many people as possible, and I think this is the best way to do it thus far."

He added that being able to use his platform to give back to his hometown is "a blessing."

For people who want to help, Westbrook said "text LA Love to 21000. You can donate there, text it there, and it's very easy and very simple to do."

"My biggest thing now is to impact and inspire as many people as possible," he reiterated. "I'm trying to find more ways to give people hope, confidence, a sense of swagger to themselves that they can do and put their mind to do anything they want to do."

With the NBA season on an indefinite hiatus, Westbrook said he has enjoyed the time to be home with his wife and children.

"It's been great. My kids, I'm pretty sure they enjoy it so much. It's something that I really enjoy getting a chance to wake up with them every morning," the Houston Rockets point guard said.

He added that he's been able to help his wife, who is a former UCLA basketball star, "with the daily duties that she's always been doing."

"[She's been] doing an amazing job of raising our children while I'm away, and so I'm excited, I'm blessed to be home with the family, and I'm enjoying myself," he said.

Westbrook has also found fun and inventive ways to train at home with his family as they stay home amid the pandemic.

He took on the viral pushup challenge on Instagram and leveled up with some added weight, courtesy of his 3-year-old son Noah.

"[I'm] finding ways to be able to bring all of us together, and if that's the push-up challenge with your kid on your back, I think we should all try it and kind of see what happens," he said with a laugh. "My son's pretty big and pretty heavy, but we managed it."

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Tokyo Olympics postponed, will be held ‘by the summer of 2021’: Japanese PM

Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics "will be held by the summer of 2021," the prime minister's office tweeted Tuesday.

Abe pushed hard for Tokyo's selection as the host city during an International Olympic Committee meeting in 2013.

Japan appears to have successfully slowed the spread of the respiratory virus on home soil so far, with just 1,140 diagnosed cases as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

But as the health crisis deepens in other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, a growing number of Olympic teams and athletes called on organizers to postpone or cancel the upcoming Games.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board on Sunday said it would assess the worldwide situation over the next four weeks and make a decision that could include the scenario of postponing the Games. The board, however, emphasized that it has no current plans to outright cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics as such a scenario "would not solve any of the problems or help anybody."

Just hours after the International Olympic Committee said it would consider delaying -- but not canceling -- the Tokyo Games, Canada became the first country to announce it won't be sending athletes to this year's Olympics due to risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee called on organizers to delay the Games for one year.

"While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community," the committees said in a joint statement Sunday. "This is not solely about athlete health -- it is about public health."

Australia followed suit Monday. After deciding unanimously not to send a team, the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that "our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families."

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said athletes should prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

"The athletes desperately want to go to the games," Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday, "but they also take onboard their own personal health."

"We need to give our athletes that certainty," he added, "and that's what we've done."

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Olympic flame to arrive in Japan as plans for Tokyo Games forge ahead despite pandemic

ARIS MESSINIS / AFP / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- After being lit at a sparsely attended ceremony in Greece, the Olympic flame is slated to arrive in Japan on Friday amid growing calls for the upcoming Tokyo Games to be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced last week it was cancelling the Olympic torch relay around Greece "in order to contribute to the containment of the virus." The handover ceremony to Japanese Olympic officials was carried out as planned at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday, but with no public in attendance.

Bringing the flame to Japan takes organizers one step closer to their goal of staging the 2020 Summer Olympics as scheduled on July 24, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed hard for Tokyo's selection as the host city during an International Olympic Committee meeting in 2013.

But a global outbreak of the novel coronavirus has shrouded the games in doubt, even as organizers maintain they are forging ahead with the events as planned and encourage athletes to continue training.

More than 222,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with the new respiratory virus, known officially as COVID-19, since it was first detected in China back in December. Last week, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

A number of Olympic athletes have voiced concerns on social media about the games still being held as scheduled this summer amid the global health crisis.

Greek Olympic champion pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi wrote on Twitter that the International Olympic Committee's advice for athletes to keep training is "risking our health, our family's health and public health."

"This is not about how things will be in 4 months. This is about how things are now," Stefanidi tweeted Tuesday. "You are putting us in danger right now, today, not in 4 months."

British Olympic heptathlete wrote on Twitter that she feels "under pressure to train and keep the same routine which is impossible."

“We’re trying to follow information with how to continue safely whilst reducing the risk to everyone around us and the information of the IOC and local government are at odds with one another,” Johnson-Thompson tweeted Tuesday.

"The IOC advice 'encourages athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games as best they can’ with the Olympics only four months away, but the government legislation is enforcing isolation at home with tracks, gyms and public spaces closed," she continued.

Just under 1,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Japan, and a top Olympic official is one of them. Kozo Tashima, the president of the Japan Football Association and vice-chairman of the Japan Olympic Committee, revealed that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday.

"I pray that the Olympics and all sports can be performed safely in Japan and around the world," Tashima said in a statement.

With the Tokyo Olympics just four months away, Japan is scrambling to prevent further spread of the disease on home soil. The Japanese government has established the Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters, while the Tokyo metropolitan government has set up an internal task force. The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has also established its own task force.

Meanwhile, the Japanese prime minister has ordered all elementary, middle and high schools to stay closed until spring holidays begin in late March.

More recently, Abe announced that travelers from dozens of European nations and other countries, including Egypt and Iran, will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in Japan. He said an entry ban will also be imposed on visitors from Iceland as well as virus-hit areas of Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

After last week's symbolic lighting of the Olympic flame in the ancient Greek site of Olympia, the International Olympic Committee confirmed its "full commitment to the success" of the upcoming games and said it would continue to follow the advice of the World Health Organization.

"We remain absolutely in line with our Japanese hosts in our commitment to delivering safe Olympic Games in July this year," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement on March 12.

"At the same time, the world is facing challenges that are also impacting sport. But with 19 weeks before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace," the statement continued.

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee's CEO, Toshiro Muto, reiterated to reporters Tuesday night that "everyone is committed to having the games as scheduled."

"Our point of view, our stance is that as scheduled the Olympic games will take place in a safe and secure manner," Muto said at a press conference in Tokyo. "We will continue to make efforts for that to happen. That is our stance."

A spokesperson for Tokyo Olympic organizing committee told ABC News Thursday that their stance has not changed since the CEO spoke.

One employee at the headquarters for the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games acknowledged the doubts surrounding the games but, when asked how he felt about it, he simply shrugged and said, "I have no choice but to believe the games will happen."

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COVID-19 outbreak moves Roland-Garros French Open to September

:lusia83/iStock(PARIS) -- The famed clay courts of Roland-Garros in Paris will not be open on May 20 for the French Open as originally scheduled due to the health risks at play with COVID-19, the tennis tournament organizers announced Tuesday.

"In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in organising the tournament, the French Tennis Federation has made the decision to hold the 2020 edition of Roland-Garros from 20th September to 4th October 2020," the organization said.

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146th Kentucky Derby delayed amid coronavirus outbreak

traveler1116/iStock(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- The fastest two minutes in sports will have to wait until the fall.

Churchill Downs announced that the 146th Kentucky Derby will be rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5.

"Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community," Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO, Bill Carstanjen, said. "The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic."

Ticketed guests will automatically be valid for the new race dates, but if a patron can no longer attend at the new scheduled race dates, information will be made available later this week on the official website for potential refunds.

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