LeBron James shares Twitter video of peaceful protest in Colorado over George Floyd killing


LeBron James shares Twitter video of peaceful protest in Colorado over George Floyd killing

LeBron James took to social media Sunday to share video of a peaceful, powerful protest in Colorado following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The 35-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star posted a video on Twitter showing thousands of protesters Saturday at Colorado’s Capitol as they laid face down with hands behind their backs while chanting ‘I can’t breathe,’ which were some of Floyd’s last words before he died on May 25 in Minneapolis.

‘Media showing this???? I bet you they’re not. You know why, cause this is unity, peaceful, beautiful and love!,’ James tweeted for his roughly 46.2 million followers.

Protest video: LeBron James, shown in January in New York City, took to social media on Sunday to share video of a peaceful George Floyd protest in Colorado

The protesters in the video chanted ‘I can’t breathe’ for nine minutes, which is roughly the length of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee of Floyd’s neck. Chauvin has since been fired, arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The peaceful protest video was originally posted by the Colorado Times Recorder on its Twitter page and it has amassed 7.4 million views on the platform.

The Colorado Times Recorder is a small news site that produces original journalism with a nonpartisan, progressive orientation.

James also took to Instagram on Sunday with a stark message.

Bet on: 'Media showing this???? I bet you they’re not. You know why, cause this is unity, peaceful, beautiful and love!,' James tweeted for his roughly 46.2 million followers

Bet on: ‘Media showing this???? I bet you they’re not. You know why, cause this is unity, peaceful, beautiful and love!,’ James tweeted for his roughly 46.2 million followers

 ‘If YOU ain’t wit US, WE ain’t with Y’ALL!,’ he wrote in a black-and-white letters for his roughly 65.4 million followers.

James earlier spoke out on social media after unarmed black man Floyd died at age 46 with an Instagram post that referenced Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who kneeled during the playing of the US national anthem to protest against racial injustice.

The post showed a photo of Chauvin pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck next to a photo of Kaepernick kneeling while playing for the San Francisco 49ere.

Stark message: 'If YOU ain't wit US, WE ain't with Y'ALL!,' James also wrote in a black-and-white letters for his roughly 65.4 million followers on Instagram

Stark message: ‘If YOU ain’t wit US, WE ain’t with Y’ALL!,’ James also wrote in a black-and-white letters for his roughly 65.4 million followers on Instagram

‘This…. … Is Why,’ James captioned the images.

He also wrote: “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke”.

James has been married since 2013 to his high school sweetheart Savannah Brinson, 33.

Family picture: James is shown in September 2018 in Los Angeles with wife Savannah and sons Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri

Family picture: James is shown in September 2018 in Los Angeles with wife Savannah and sons Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri

They have sons Bronny, 15, Bryce, 12, and five-year-old Zhuri together.

The NBA star previously spoke out about racial injustice at the 2016 ESPYS in Los Angeles in the wake of police killings of two black men. 

James and the Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 49-14 and already had clinched a spot in the playoffs when the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Racial injustice: NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and James spoke onstage against racial injustice at the 2016 ESPYS on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles

Racial injustice: NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and James spoke onstage against racial injustice at the 2016 ESPYS on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles

First place: The Akron, Ohio native, shown in January in Los Angeles, and the Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference when the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic

First place: The Akron, Ohio native, shown in January in Los Angeles, and the Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference when the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic



Roger Federer tops Forbes’ Athletes Rich List for the first time


Roger Federer becomes first tennis player EVER to top Forbes’ Athletes Rich List after raking in yearly earnings worth £86m as 38-year-old edges out Lionel Messi, LeBron James and Tyson Fury

  • Forbes have released their list of the top-50 paid athletes in the world of sport
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and LeBron James all earn spots in the top 10
  • Tennis player Naomi Osaka is the highest ranked female, ranking in at No 29 
  • Her tennis counterpart Roger Federer tops the standings with $106.3m earnings 

Roger Federer has been crowned No 1 on Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes list for the first time in his career. 

The Swiss tennis icon has held off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and LeBron James to take top spot with pre-tax earnings in 2020 of $106.3million (£85.9m).

Federer, who has won 20 Grand Slam titles to date which is the most of any male player in the tennis Open era, has amassed such a profile that he generated $100m (£80.7m) in endorsements alone.   

Roger Federer has been crowned as the highest earning athlete in the world by Forbes

Cristiano Ronaldo waived four months of his salary as part of the reductions due to the coronavirus pandemic

Lionel Messi has traded top spot for years with Ronaldo but Barcelona's squad accepted wage cuts of 70 oper cent back in March

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi (right) shared top spot in three of the last four years

Interestingly, Forbes’ research found that the top 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined figure of $3.6billion in the last year.

While that is a staggering figure, it is nine per cent below what was reported in 2019 and represents the first decline in earnings since 2016.

The 38-year-old Swiss is just the ninth athlete to take top sport since it was first done in 1990. He is the first tennis player in those 30 years to finish No 1, too. 

Federer topping the pile is significant given that Ronaldo, who finished second, and Messi, who finished third, have traded the No 1 position in three of the last four years the list was compiled.  

British heavyweight Tyson Fury (left) had a lucrative year after beating Deontay Wilder (right)

British heavyweight Tyson Fury (left) had a lucrative year after beating Deontay Wilder (right)

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton ranks 13th on the overall list, behind Fury

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton ranks 13th on the overall list, behind Fury

But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and major pay-cuts at both of their clubs, have seen their overall earnings take a hit, resulting in them conceding first place. 

Ronaldo and Messi combined for total pre-tax earnings of $209m (£169m) in the last 12 months, a $28m (£22.6m) drop from the year before. 

Messi announced in March that Barcelona’s players took a 70 per cent pay cut to help the club get through the pandemic. 

Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates waived four months wages in a bid to do their part, a move which is believed to save the Italian champions €90m (£81m).  

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is the highest earning British athlete, according to the list, narrowly edging out Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who ranks 13th, two places below Fury.

Fury has returned to the top of the sport of boxing and now holds one of the prestigious heavyweight belts having beaten Deontay Wilder, who ranks 20th on the list, in February by knockout to take the prize belt.

Anthony Joshua finished in 19th position having had yearly earnings of $47million (£38m)

 Anthony Joshua finished in 19th position having had yearly earnings of $47million (£38m) 

LeBron James leads the NBA players with the league the most represented in this Forbes list

LeBron James leads the NBA players with the league the most represented in this Forbes list

Fury’s breakdown shows $50m in winnings and salary with $7m of his pre-tax yearly earnings from endorsement deals. His total puts the heavyweight $3m ahead of Hamilton. 

In terms of other athletes from the UK and Ireland, Rory McIlroy (14th), Conor McGregor (16th) and Anthony Joshua (19th) all feature inside the top 20.   

No sport has more representatives on the list than the National Basketball League and LeBron, the face of the NBA, comes in at No 5 as the highest-ranked basketball star. The Los Angeles Lakers star is reported to have earned $60m in endorsements in the last 12 months on top of his $28.2m salary in California.    

While Federer took top sport in a landmark moment for tennis, Naomi Osaka is another boost for the sport as she was crowned as the highest-earning female athlete in the world. 

The Japanese WTA Tour player surpassed Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete, raking in $37.4million (£30.1m) in prize money and endorsements over the last year. Osaka earned $1.4m (£1.1m) more than American great Williams who had topped the list for the last four years.

Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah, Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba earn spots inside the top 50 but the list is largely populated by individual sports or American sports such as the NBA and NFL (National Football League). 

Japan's Naomi Osaka made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months

 Japan’s Naomi Osaka made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months

Manchester United's Paul Pogba is one of only three players to earn spots inside the Top 50

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is one of only three players to earn spots inside the Top 50

LeBron James and others demand justice in Georgia shooting of unarmed black jogger by two white men


LeBron James led a line of celebrities speaking out about the shooting of an unarmed black jogger by two white men less than three months ago – and the lack of consequences against the men involved in the shooting.

In the incident, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was fatally shot by Travis McMichael as he jogged in Brunswick, Georgia February 23; McMichael’s father Gregory also chased Arbery in the incident, according to police.

The men told authorities that the shooting came amid an attempt to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery, adding that Arbery matched a description of an active burglar in the region, police said.

Condolences: The Akron, Ohio native continued: 'I’m sorry Ahmaud(Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the..... heavens above to your family!!'

Demanding justice: LeBron James led a line of celebrities who were speaking out about the shooting of an unarmed black jogger by two white men less than three months ago, and the lack of legal action against the shooters in the face of jarring video evidence 

No one has been arrested in the incident, which infuriated the NBA stalwart, who said, ‘We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!.

‘Can’t even go for a damn jog man!’ the 35-year-old Los Angeles Laker said. ‘Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!’

The Akron, Ohio native continued: ‘I’m sorry Ahmaud(Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the….. heavens above to your family!!’

The iconic basketball player added the hashtags #StayWoke and #ProfiledCauseWeAreSimplyBlack after a jarring video of the incident made its way online this week, leading many on social media to call for immediate action in the case.

Upset: No one has been arrested in the incident, which infuriated the NBA stalwart, who said, 'We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes'

Upset: No one has been arrested in the incident, which infuriated the NBA stalwart, who said, ‘We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes’

The case continued to gain traction Wednesday as a number of other notable names  took to social media to share their thoughts of sadness, anger and vengeance in the ongoing case.  

‘If you are in Georgia and are comfortable going outside with social distancing protocols, please safely support this family whose loved one was murdered in cold blood while jogging by gun-toting Trump supporting White supremacists,’ director/writer Ava DuVernay said on Twitter. 

Gabrielle Union made her thoughts on the situation crystal clear amid her calls for justice

‘It’s been months and his killers walk free,’ the actress said in an Instagram post. ‘I don’t want to beg, plead, reason, cry, or scream for you to see us as worthy of our breath. If you need to be cajoled into empathy, you are not who you think you are.’

Focused: Gabrielle Union made her thoughts on the situation crystal clear amid her calls for justice

Focused: Gabrielle Union made her thoughts on the situation crystal clear amid her calls for justice 

Outrage:  Rosanna Arquette also expressed their disgust over the situation, calling it a 'racist' and 'heinous' crime

Outrage:  Rosanna Arquette also expressed their disgust over the situation, calling it a ‘racist’ and ‘heinous’ crime 

The L.A.’s Finest star ended her post in saying, ‘We keep fighting. We will not stop. There will be justice.’ 

Zoe Kravitz said the incident was reflective of an unjust system. 

She wrote: #ahmaudarbery was murdered by two white men, ON CAMERA, and dudes have not been arrested. come on, people…come. the F*** on.’  

Rosanna Arquette suggested the McMichaels be charged with murder for their ‘despicable racist heinous crime.’ 

Maria Shriver called the story ‘absolutely outrageous,’ adding, ‘Watching this video should outrage and disgust us all.’ 

  

Time to answer: Academy Award winner Halle Berry, comedy star Amy Schumer and A-lister Kerry Washington called for justice in the situation

Time to answer: Academy Award winner Halle Berry, comedy star Amy Schumer and A-lister Kerry Washington called for justice in the situation 

Focused: Pop star Justin Bieber said he was 'praying for justice' in the case

Focused: Pop star Justin Bieber said he was ‘praying for justice’ in the case 

Upset: Kendall Jenner indicated she was heartbroken by the turn of events

Upset: Kendall Jenner indicated she was heartbroken by the turn of events 

Actress Viola Davis quoted late activist Fannie Lou Hamer in writing, ‘I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

Pop superstar Justin Bieber wrote, ‘Praying for the family mourning the loss of Ahmaud Arbery. Also praying for justice!’ 

Serena Williams, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Taraji P. Henson, Tristan Thompson, Olivia Wilde, Tina Lawson, Lily Collins, Vanessa Hudgens and Sailor Brinkley Cook also paid memorial to the late Arbery, with some demanding a day in court for the men involved in the shooting.

Passionate: Tennis icon Serena Williams had a bold response to the story involving Arbery

Direct: Williams made clear she thought the incident was a racially-fueled hate crime

Passionate: Tennis icon Serena Williams had a bold response to the story involving Arbery 

Powerful: Oscar-winner Viola Davis  called for action from officials in the situation

Powerful: Oscar-winner Viola Davis  called for action from officials in the situation 

Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones told reporters that her late son ‘was just out for his daily jog’ in the incident, which the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is also probing.

‘I saw my son come into the world,’ she said, according to the AP, ‘and seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I’ll want to see ever.’

The case is expected to continue for at least another month, as courts in Georgia are closed due to COVID-19 shutdown. 

Calls for action: Khloe's ex, NBA star Tristan Thompson, said that justice 'NEEDS' to be served in the ongoing case

Chiming in: Khloe's confidante Malika Haqq said that situations like the one involving Arbery 'have to stop'

Calls for action: Khloe’s ex, NBA star Tristan Thompson, said that justice ‘NEEDS’ to be served in the ongoing case 

Crestfallen: Khloe Kardashian posted an emoji depicting her heartbreak over the tragic death

Crestfallen: Khloe Kardashian posted an emoji depicting her heartbreak over the tragic death

Upset: Vanessa Hudgens linked to a Change.org petition demanding justice in the case

Support: Olivia Wilde posted a shot of the late Arbery on her page

Upset: Vanessa Hudgens linked to a Change.org petition demanding justice in the case 

When the courts reconvene, a prosecutor appointed to the incident says he hopes a grand jury can come to the determination whether or not either McMichael is charged in the deadly incident.

Jones’s’ lawyer Lee Merritt said Travis McMichael and his father Gregory ‘were vigilantes … and they performed a modern lynching in the middle of the day.’ 

In his latest statement on the case, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp said that proper ‘resources & manpower’ have been allocated to local authorities ‘to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death.’

Kemp said that ‘Georgians deserve answers,’ and that ‘state law enforcement stands ready to ensure justice is served.’

One-time presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke tweeted, ‘I would ask why the killers are not already in jail, two months later, but we know why. Still, there is a chance for justice to be done. There must be accountability and there must be consequences for murder of Ahmaud Arbery.’ 

Response: Actress Lily Collins called the situation 'tragic and unacceptable'

Response: Actress Lily Collins called the situation ‘tragic and unacceptable’ 

Growing group: Sailor Brinkley Cook and Naomi Campbell also shared their thoughts on the deadly incident

Growing group: Sailor Brinkley Cook and Naomi Campbell also shared their thoughts on the deadly incident 

Statement: Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp said that proper 'resources & manpower' have been allocated to local authorities 'to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death'

Statement: Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp said that proper ‘resources & manpower’ have been allocated to local authorities ‘to ensure a thorough, independent investigation into the death’

Blunt: Senator Bernie Sanders kept things blunt and

Blunt: Senator Bernie Sanders kept it simple in his assessment of what happened, and what should occur next

LeBron James says he won’t play in empty stadium after NBA issues warning over coronavirus crisis 


2020 OLYMPIC GAMES 

In doubt 

The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.

Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation

The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.

Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22.

ATHLETICS

Cancelled

World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea.

The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.

The Paris half-marathon is canceled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organizers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined. 

In doubt

A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.

BADMINTON

Cancelled

German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’.

BOXING

Cancelled

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur in Amman from March 3-11

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

CRICKET

Impacted

England players will not be shaking hands on their tour of Sri Lanka and will use fist bumps instead.

CYCLING

In doubt

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.

Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin on Thursday after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.

Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

FOOTBALL

Cancelled

All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.

Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled last weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.

Serie A then announced on Saturday that five of the weekend’s fixtures, including the title showdown between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been cancelled.  

The Coppa Italia match between Napoli and Inter Milan on Thursday became the latest fixture to be called off, when it was postponed indefinitely. It was the 12th game to be postponed since the crisis began and the third involving Inter Milan.

An update from sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora later confirmed all the upcoming Serie A fixtures for the weekend commencing March 7,8, would be played behind closed doors.

In France, the Ligue 1 game between RC Strasbourg and champions Paris St Germain was postponed on Friday.

It was the first Ligue 1 game to be postponed, with Strasbourg’s Alsace region one of the worst hit by the coronavirus in France, where 613 cases and nine deaths have been reported.

Impacted

The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.

Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 will be played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.

Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 will be played behind closed doors, including Juventus v Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals. 

Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears.

Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday. 

In doubt

England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is now in doubt as the FA holds crisis talks following the outbreak in northern Italy.

Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26. 

Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.

Premier League games are ‘likely’ to be played behind closed doors ‘in the coming weeks’ over coronavirus fears, Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev has warned, in line with the action taken in Serie A. 

FORMULA ONE

Cancelled

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

In doubt

The Australian Grand Prix will go ahead despite an emergency response plan being enacted across the country to deal with the virus. The chief executive of the tourism council says that Victoria cannot afford for the event to be cancelled.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is still planned to go ahead despite a number of flights from Dubai and the UAE into the country being cancelled this week due to coronavirus fears.

There are growing concerns over whether the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5) will go ahead.

GOLF

Cancelled

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.

The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed

The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.

The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health

The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).

Impacted

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus.

HORSE RACING

Impacted

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go behind closed doors.

Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.

In doubt

Cheltenham festival is in doubt as organisers set up a steering group to consider the danger posed by the virus, just 13 days prior to the prestigious Gold Cup event

The Cheltenham Festival is set to go ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

The Cheltenham Festival is set to go ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY

Cancelled

Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.

Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.

Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.

Ireland's Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.

England’s final Six Nations game against Italy is off ‘with the intention to reschedule it at a later date’. The same applies to the corresponding women’s and U20s fixtures. All were due to be played on March 13-15.

In doubt

Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.

All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy.

Fears of the virus spreading then prompted ITV to abandon plans to send commentators and pundits out to Rome for England’s game against Italy in Rome.

TENNIS

Cancelled

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine is cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 playoff.

WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

Impacted

Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.

Players will be banned from handing their towels to ball-kids at next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, organisers said on Friday.

In doubt

WTA event Kunming Open is considered for cancellation after Xi’an Open was called off. It is due to start on April 27.

OTHER SPORTS

Cancelled 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. Moto2 and Moto3 will though run in Qatar though as they were already based at the track for pre-season testing.

Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room. 

South Korean baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.

The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.

Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April. 

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

Impacted

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan. 

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA have told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

In doubt

The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.   

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed.

Inside Lakers’ flight back to LA as they learned of Kobe’s death and LeBron James led a team prayer 


The morning after overtaking Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and receiving a congratulatory phone call from his retired former rival, Lakers star LeBron James found himself leading a spontaneous prayer circle on a team flight back to Los Angeles, he has revealed, attempting to make sense of the tragic helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others last month.

‘It was just off the top off my head, just off the cuff,’ James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin of the moment he learned about Bryant’s death on a cross-country flight back to LA. ‘I think it was needed for us to come together and just give thanks to the man above.

‘Even though at times we question him and question why he do some of the things that he do, know that he’s never made a mistake. And just hope that he has his hands on top of [Bryant’s wife] Vanessa and the kids at that time, and hope that he continues to watch over all of us. So, I don’t know, it wasn’t something I thought about. It was something that just kind of came to me, and I said my piece’.

Details have emerged from the Lakers’ flight home from Bryant’s native Philadelphia on the morning of January 26, when players began to learn of the fatal accident.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts during the national anthem after a pre-game tribute to Kobe Bryant before playing the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on January 31

The Lakers' team plane pictured after arriving in Los Angeles from Philadelphia on January 26 - the day Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident

Lakers players embrace each other after getting off a team flight from Philadelphia and learning that Bryant had died in a helicopter accident

Lakers players embrace each other after learning that Kobe Bryant had died on January 26

Lebron James and Quinn Cook cry during the Los Angeles Lakers pregame ceremony to honor Kobe Bryant before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on January 31

Lebron James and Quinn Cook cry during the Los Angeles Lakers pregame ceremony to honor Kobe Bryant before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on January 31

Bryant had not played for the Lakers since his 60-point farewell performance in 2016, and his only former teammate on the current squad, Dwight Howard, was seven years removed from briefly playing with the man dubbed ‘Black Mamba’ during a previous stint in Los Angeles.

Likewise, Bryant had not worked with Lakers coach Frank Vogel or any of his assistants, such as NBA legend Jason Kidd or Lionel Hollins, himself a former head coach in Memphis and Brooklyn.

But although he had minimal professional experience with the current incarnation of the Lakers, Bryant’s memory consumed the team flight.

At first, players and coaches were in disbelief.

‘There was that uncomfortable time, feeling like, ‘This is a crazy report,” Vogel told ESPN. ‘Like, ‘This is not true. There’s no way.’ My expectation was to hear that it was a false report’.

LeBron James honored Kobe Bryant by writing 'Mamba 4 Life' on his sneakers after the crash

LeBron James honored Kobe Bryant by writing ‘Mamba 4 Life’ on his sneakers after the crash

Power forward Anthony Davis was watching a movie when Howard approached him.

‘Dwight tells me, “Man, Kobe died,”‘ Davis said. ‘And me thinking as invincible as Kobe Bryant is, I’m like, “Kobe who?” Because I’m like, that’s not — it’s not Kobe Bryant.

‘And he was like, “Kobe.” And I was like, “OK. Kobe who? I’m not sure who you’re talking about.” And he was like, “Kobe Bryant.” And at this time, Bron is still asleep. So I was like, “Wait, what? How? Like, I need details, like, tell me.” And he was like, “Man, helicopter crash.”‘

Davis immediately turned to wake up James, a longtime friend and former Olympic teammate of Bryant’s: ‘And I just like, start shaking Bron, like, ‘Wake up! Wake up!”

‘I remember the first thing Bron said to me was, “Man, y’all stop playin – like, stop playing with me,”‘ Davis continued. ‘And I’m trying to get on the internet. And Dwight, like, you can see him start crying. He was like, “It’s true.”‘

One by one, players log onto the plane’s wi-fi network to learn that Bryant’s helicopter had crashed in southern California that morning.

‘By this time, all the players have woken up,’ Davis said. ‘Everybody’s trying to get to the internet to get on their phone and see what’s going on. “Is it true?” Or, “What’s going on?”‘

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant won a pair of gold medals together on Team USA

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant won a pair of gold medals together on Team USA

Current Lakers center Dwight Howard played alongside Bryant during a previous stint in LA

Current Lakers center Dwight Howard played alongside Bryant during a previous stint in LA

Vogel took it upon himself to inform those who remained unaware of the tragedy, going up and down the rows delivering the bad news.

Many had already heard the news, but it was Vogel’s unfortunate duty to confirm it.

‘Everybody was crying,’ Davis told ESPN. ‘It was just like something that we didn’t believe, something that was shocking to all of us. Because Kobe, he’s touched so many, you know — players on this team, staff members. You know, Judy [Seto], his trainer; [Lakers general manager] Rob [Pelinka was his] agent; Robert Lara, security. He touched so many people.’

The plane then fell into what one passenger described to ESPN as a ‘suffocating silence’ before landing in Los Angeles, where the emotionally drained players were seen staggering off the plane.

James, himself, appeared to be crying as he made his way off the tarmac.

As Anthony Davis told ESPN, there was an urgency to get off the plane and see loved ones

As Anthony Davis told ESPN, there was an urgency to get off the plane and see loved ones 

‘We were just like, we just need to get off this plane,’ Davis told ESPN. ‘We just want to get off the plane. And be with your families and, you know, just get back home.’

Although James declined to say whether he attended Monday’s memorial service at Staples Center (he was not photographed at the event), James did deliver a heartfelt speech before the Lakers first game back at their home arena on January 31.

‘Kobe is a brother to me,’ James told the crowd while he and his teammates wore Lakers jerseys emblazoned with Bryant’s two jersey numbers, 8 and 24. ‘From the time I was in high school watching him from afar, to getting in this league at 18 and watching him up close, all the battles that we had throughout my career, the one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win, to just want to be great.

‘The fact that I’m here now means so much to me. I want to continue, along with my teammates, his legacy. Not only for this year, but for as long as we can play this game of basketball that we love, because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want. So in the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother.’ 

Although James declined to say whether he attended Monday's memorial service at Staples Center (he was not photographed at the event), James did deliver a heartfelt speech before the Lakers first game back at their home arena on January 31

Although James declined to say whether he attended Monday’s memorial service at Staples Center (he was not photographed at the event), James did deliver a heartfelt speech before the Lakers first game back at their home arena on January 31