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Britain becomes virus epicenter of Europe

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Jill Lawless, David Rising And Nick Perry, The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, May 5, 2020 5:29AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, May 6, 2020 10:34AM EDT

Edited By Harry Miller

LONDON – Britain on Tuesday became the first country in Europe to confirm more than 30,000 coronavirus deaths, and infections rose sharply again in Russia, even as other nations made great strides in containing the scourge. China marked its third week with no new reported deaths, while South Korea restarted its baseball season.

In the U.S., some states took continued steps to lift the lockdown restrictions that have thrown millions out of work, even as the country recorded thousands of new infections and deaths every day.

Underscoring the stakes, New York state reported 1,700 more people died in nursing homes than it had previously counted.

President Donald Trump headed for Arizona to visit a Honeywell factory that makes respirator masks, in what could be a return to more regular travel for the president.

“The people of our country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One.

Britain appeared set to surpass Italy as Europe’s hardest-hit nation, even as the rate of deaths and hospitalization declined and the government prepared to take tentative steps out of lockdown.

The British government said about 28,700 people with COVID-19 had died in hospitals, nursing homes and other settings, while Italy reported close to 29,100 fatalities. Both figures are almost certainly underestimates because they include only people who tested positive, and testing was not widespread in Italian and British nursing homes until recently.

Yet official British statistics released Tuesday on people who died with suspected COVID-19 put the country’s toll at more than 30,000 as of April 24, or one-third higher than the government count at the time. A comparable figure for Italy was not available.

In Russia, the number of infections rose sharply again, with Moscow reporting more than 10,000 new cases for three days in a row.

At the same time, many European countries that have relaxed strict lockdowns after new infections tapered off were watching their virus numbers warily.

“We know with great certainty that there will be a second wave – the majority of scientists are sure of that. And many also assume that there will be a third wave,” said Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s national disease control centre.

French President Emmanuel Macron took heat from parents, teachers and mayors, who pushed back against his plans to gradually reopen schools next week with classes capped at 15 students.

Italy this week allowed 4.4 million people to go back to work and eased restrictions on personal movement for the first time in two months.

The coming weeks are essentially an “experiment” to see how the infection curve reacts to the easing of the West’s first lockdown, the head of infectious diseases at Italy’s Superior Institute of Health told the La Repubblica newspaper.

“We are not out of the epidemic. We are still in it,” said Dr. Giovanni Rezza. “I don’t want people to think there’s no more risk and we go back to normal.”

Widely seen as a success story, South Korea reported only three new cases of the virus, its lowest total since Feb. 18. Schools will reopen in phases starting with high school seniors on May 13, but the highlight Tuesday was the baseball season, which began with no spectators allowed.

Cheerleaders danced beneath rows of empty seats, and umpires wore face masks as one of the world’s first major professional sports returned to action in games broadcast around the globe. Players and coaches were subjected to fever screenings before entering stadiums.

With major league baseball in the U.S. still mulling plans on what to do about its own season, American sports network ESPN signed a contract to broadcast six South Korean games per week, starting with Tuesday’s season opener between Daegu’s Samsung Lions and Changwon-based NC Dinos, which the Dinos won 4-0.

The country’s professional soccer leagues will kick off Friday, also without spectators.

In China, it has been three weeks since any new deaths have been reported in the country where the pandemic began late last year. Just one new case of infection was confirmed, and fewer than 400 patients are still being treated for COVID-19, health officials said.

Other places in the Asia-Pacific region have also suppressed outbreaks, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, which has reported no new cases for two days. But experts said India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, has yet to see the peak of its outbreak.

In Britain, which unlike other European nations remains in lockdown, a trial began Tuesday of a mobile phone app that authorities hope will help contain the outbreak. The app, which warns people if they have been near an infected individual, is being tested on the Isle of Wight, off England’s southern coast. The government hopes it can be rolled out across the country later this month.

In France, scientists released a study saying they may have identified a possible case of the coronavirus dating back to December, about a month before the first cases were officially confirmed in Europe. Outside experts said the study was interesting but not conclusive.

Governments around the world have reported 3.6 million infections and more than a quarter-million deaths, including more than 69,000 in the United States. Deliberately concealed outbreaks, low testing rates and the severe strain the disease has placed on health care systems mean the true scale of the pandemic is undoubtedly much greater.

Several states have been moving to relax restrictions even as daily new infections in the U.S. exceed 20,000 and daily deaths are well over 1,000, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

After India relaxed some lockdown restrictions on Monday, thousands of people turned up at liquor stores without following social distancing recommendations. Police used batons to disperse the crowds. On Tuesday, Indian authorities imposed a special tax of 70% on liquor purchases.

Rising reported from Berlin and Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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NBPA approves 22-team format to resume NBA season – Sportsnet.ca

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The National Basketball Players Association has signed off on the 22-team, return-to-play format for the NBA, the union announced in a statement Friday.

The NBPA said its Board of Player Representatives has approved further negotiations on the plan with the league and various details still need to be hashed out.

“The acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the statement reads.

The league’s Board of Governors approved the proposal for restarting the 2019-20 season on Thursday. The plan would see the campaign resume next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla.

The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that other aspects of the return-to-play plan were discussed by the NBPA on a call with its Board and Player Representatives on Friday afternoon, including:

• Two to three exhibition tilts before the regular season

• A maximum of 1,600 people on the Disney World campus

• Daily COVID-19 testing and a minimum seven-day quarantine if a player is found positive

• The NBA will continue to play if a player contracts the novel coronavirus

• Players and family must stay inside the bubble

• Potential manufactured crowd noise using NBA 2K video game sound

• A proposed 35-person travel party limit

• Potential three-hour practice windows for teams

• No blood tests in Orlando for substances that fall under the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBPA reportedly also said players will receive their full paycheques after taking a 25 per cent reduction in May.

Additionally, Charania reports that the union told players a Dec. 1 start to the ’20-21 campaign is “unlikely” and it plans to negotiate the date.

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'Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer and become the GOAT', says former World No. 1 – Tennis World USA

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Former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic was the protagonist of a long interview on Eurosport, where he commented on all the news that gravitates around the world of tennis. The former World number 1, who retired from the circuit at the end of 2016, has won 15 singles titles during his career, including Roland Garros in 2008.

She also reached a final in Paris in 2007 and one at the Australian Open in 2008. She was at the top of the world ranking from 9th June to 10th August 2008 and then from 18th August to 7th September of the same year (for a total of 12 weeks).

Ivanovic: ‘Djokovic will break Federer’s Slam record’

Ana had a recent talk with former world no.10 Barbara Schett-Eagle. She talked about Kim Clijsters: “I have been watching some of her matches and she has been striking the ball amazingly well, but I really hope she can get back to that level to play like she used to,” Serbia’s 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic, talking to Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi, said on Wednesday.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be easy after being out for so many years. It’s amazing what she achieved. I still respect her so much, it’s just difficult to imagine now after having three kids and being out for so long to make a comeback,” Ivanovic, who retired in 2016, aged 29, said.

“Not because she’s not fit, but because your body just reacts differently. When you are out of competition you realise how much fine-tuning is necessary and she’s been out a while”. When asked about her opinion about Novak Djokovic and the opportunity for him to break Federer’s slam record, Ana sounded rather positive.

“In tour we were very close friends, but then later over the years he had his own path and I had my own path, but what he achieved is really amazing,” Ivanovic said. “Yeah. Probably. He has time working for him.

He still has a few years left and he definitely has a big chance of doing it and that’s one of his goals probably,” she added.

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A spy and an armbar: The night ‘India’ welcomed Amanda Nunes to MMA – MMA Fighting

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“Let me rewind the tape here… There’s a drawer we open and memories come back.”

The first and only woman to win multiple UFC belts, Amanda Nunes, returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 250 to once again defend her throne when she takes on Felicia Spencer in Las Vegas. Like many other MMA stars, however, her career actually started with a defeat — and the woman responsible for it had a few tricks up her sleeve.

A mixed martial arts pioneer in Brazil, Ana Maria “India” received a call from Prime MMA promoter Luiz Fernando Menezes with an offer to be part of the company’s second show on March 8, 2008. It was scheduled for International Women’s Day, and he wanted women competing on it.

India was training under experienced boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea in Salvador and had previous experience in MMA, while Nunes, a 19-year-old protege under Edson Carvalho, was looking to make her debut in a cage. India was coming off a long layoff due to a knee injury and decided to collect as much as information as possible about her upcoming foe.

“I had six knee surgeries throughout my career and I was coming off one of them, just five months before the fight, and I never heard of Amanda before,” Ana Maria says. “A friend of mine trained at Edson Carvalho’s gym and I asked him if he could to the gym and film her a little bit so I could check her out [laughs].”

The experienced fighter received some inside information about Nunes, and only heard great things about her.

“Ana, this girl trains really hard,” the “spy” allegedly told Nunes’ opponent. “She sleeps in the gym and watches fights on computer all day everyday.”

“He told me she was really tough on the feet, with her background in karate, and very good on the ground,” Ana Maria says. “Since I was coming off the knee surgery and one leg was two inches shorter than the other one, I didn’t want to waste any time on the feet. I shouldn’t even be fighting, but I’m a fighter and we always think we can pull it off.”

India’s strategy was to take Nunes to the ground as quick as possible, but “The Lioness” started off with a leg kick followed by a combo of punches. Nunes was “fiery, she wanted to take your head off, but often got too emotional,” Ana Maria recalls.

She took advantage of Nunes’s aggression, pulling guard and snapping a tight armbar that forced the tap.

“35 seconds,” Ana Maria recalls. “A kick, three punches, I shot for a takedown, she sprawled, I pulled guard and got the armbar. We could see how hungry she was back then, her will to fight… You could see she was good.”

Nunes eventually joined Academia Champion in Salvador and trained with India, but saw a chance to move overseas as a way to improve as a mixed martial artist.

Amanda Nunes
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“She always told me she would go to the United States and only come back with the belt in her hands,” Ana Maria says. “She was the one to beat Ronda (Rousey). She said she would beat Cris (Cyborg) one day. She slept with a computer by her bed to watch videos of their fights. She was always very focused and determined.”

Their careers went different directions. Nunes eventually signed with Strikeforce and then joined the UFC, where she climbed to the top in two different weight classes — and beat both Rousey and Cyborg by first-round knockout.

Ana Maria became a popular name in Brazil after being on the cast of a Survivor-esque reality TV competition in 2009, but never made it to the big leagues in the sport. India often wonders if she was just born in the wrong era, where women simply didn’t get the same opportunity as men.

“I’ve asked myself a lot,” she says. “People didn’t understand why I was fighting, they said there was no event for women. I said it would be big one day and they called me crazy. PRIDE was the biggest promotion in the world, then Dana White said there would never be women fighting in the UFC, and I’ve always said they had nowhere to run.

“I wanted to fight, and I believed it would be big. I didn’t have someone to look up to, but I was doing it because I thought it was cool. If it wasn’t for me, Vanessa Porto, Michelle Tavares and others, these girls wouldn’t have the space they have today. That’s why I won’t complain. Someone has to be first, someone has to open the way for others.”

At 41 with a record of seven wins and five defeats (she says two victories are missing from online databases), India is open to the idea of taking a farewell bout if the terms are good. In 2018, back when she was training at Demian Maia’s team in Sao Paulo, Ana Maria says she received a “laughable” offer to fight for the first time since 2014.

“If there’s someone out there willing to pay, I’ll fight,” Ana Maria says. “I’ve had arguments with promoters for treating us like clowns. They set the circus up with a bunch of clowns. Everyone gets paid except for the fighters. It’s absurd. What’s the point of being part of a show if I’m getting paid nothing?”

Even if she doesn’t get her shot at a proper goodbye to the sport she helped build, Ana Maria India knows she was one of the pillars to get it where it is today.

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