New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will miss the Los Angeles Clippers matchup due to the NBA's health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pelicans announced Williamson's absence prior to Wednesday's tip-off against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

New Orleans were already set to be without Lonzo Ball (knee) and Eric Bledsoe (eye) for the Clippers showdown as they try to arrest a three-game slump.

Williamson – the number one draft pick in 2019 – has been averaging 21.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Pelicans (4-5) this season.

It comes after the NBA postponed Wednesday's Atlanta Hawks-Phoenix Suns game due to league rules on health and safety protocols.

The scheduled midweek contests between the Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic-Boston Celtics were also postponed amid the growing impact of COVID-19 on the NBA season.

The Washington Wizards' clash against the Utah Jazz scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed amid coronavirus concerns.

The Wizards announced on Tuesday they had Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner enter the NBA's health and safety protocols and had cancelled their scheduled practice.

Washington (3-8) were due to face the Jazz on Wednesday, but that game will not go ahead in the latest postponement in the NBA due to COVID-19.

"The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tomorrow between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena has been postponed in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols," an NBA statement read.

"Because of ongoing contact tracing with the Wizards, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tomorrow's game against the Jazz."

The Boston Celtics have had three straight games postponed, while the Houston Rockets also had a clash pushed back earlier in the season.

The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, played against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday despite having just eight active players.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will remain absent and there is no timeline for a return as the team and NBA review videos circulating on social media.

Irving will sit out his fourth consecutive game on Tuesday due to personal reasons amid the emergence of videos that appeared to show the six-time All-Star without a mask at a family birthday party.

The NBA's coronavirus protocols ban players from entering clubs, bars and lounges, while they are also forbidden from attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.

Nets general manager Sean Marks addressed the situation in a statement on Tuesday, prior to Brooklyn's matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

"We are aware of a video on social media featuring Kyrie Irving at a family gathering," Marks said.

"We are reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.

"Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons. A date of his return has yet to be finalised. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organisational goals.

"Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so."

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Nets (5-6) this season.

The Boston Celtics have had another game postponed after their clash with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA announced the game could not go ahead as planned, just as Sunday's clash with the Miami Heat and Tuesday's planned encounter with the Chicago Bulls could also not be played.

The Celtics would have been without nine players for the Heat game at the weekend, including seven absentees owing to COVID-19 protocols, but at the time they had the minimum eight players available.

It was a contact tracing matter within the Heat camp, after a player reportedly had an inconclusive coronavirus test, that triggered that postponement, but the Celtics' trip to face the Bulls was then also scratched.

On Tuesday, it was announced the Celtics no longer had sufficient players available to form a team.

The NBA said in a statement: "The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tomorrow between the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics at TD Garden has been postponed in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols.

"Because of testing and contact tracing within the Celtics, the team does not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tomorrow’s game against Orlando."

Neymar will make his return for Paris Saint-Germain when they take on rivals Marseille in the Trophee des Champions.

PSG will look to win the trophy for a remarkable eighth consecutive season as they line up against Marseille in Lens on Wednesday.

New head coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Neymar will play some part in the contest after missing the last five matches with an ankle injury.

"Neymar is available - he will be with the group," Pochettino said about the Brazil forward, who has been out for a month since the Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon.

"We will decide on Wednesday if he will start."

There have been concerns about burnout for Kylian Mbappe, who again played 90 minutes in the 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest on Saturday.

But Pochettino is optimistic about the World Cup winner's fitness ahead of a match with high stakes, where the coach feels pride is more important than the silverware on offer.

"Kylian is in perfect condition," Pochettino said when asked if Mbappe could start for a third time in eight days.

"We are evaluating the different options for our line-up on Wednesday. We will see which team is the best to win this match. We need to perform at the best level to get the win against Marseille.

"My main motivation is to win this game. We are playing against a great rival in OM. Pride is important, much more than titles. We will do everything to win this match. 

"If we win, we know it will bring a trophy. But the most important thing is pride."

Asked about his own experiences of Le Classique as a PSG player, Pochettino added: "I remember these meetings perfectly.

"All the games were very special. For the players, the fans, the club, football is a sport of emotions.

"We realise with the health situation how much we miss the fans. The importance of this match, I had already felt it in my time."

Five players were sent off in stoppage time when these two sides met in Ligue 1 in September, following a brawl, but Pochettino sees that having no bearing on this week's game.

"The first match [against Marseille this season] is one I was not involved in. I can't talk much about it. I saw pictures. The situation is over," Pochettino said.

PSG will be without Colin Dagba, the latest player at the club to test positive for coronavirus.

Dagba has started both PSG games under Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side as he is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Colin Dagba is the latest Paris Saint-Germain player to test positive for coronavirus ahead of the Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille.

Dagba has started both PSG games under new head coach Mauricio Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.

The Ligue 1 champions confirmed on Tuesday that Dagba had contracted COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia were on target as PSG secured a first win of the Pochettino era on Saturday, beating Brest 3-0 in Ligue 1.

 

The Formula One season will start a week later than originally scheduled in Bahrain after the Australian Grand Prix was put back to November due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit was due to stage the opening race of 2021 on March 21, but F1 revealed a revised calendar on Tuesday.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first of the year on March 28, with the event in Australia now taking place on November 21 - subject to World Motor Sport Council approval.

Travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will prevent the Chinese Grand Prix - which was due to be the third round of the season - going ahead on April 11 and no new date has been set for that race.

Imola is back on the calendar for the second race of the campaign on April 18, while there is a spare date in the calendar of May 2 for a race to be staged and a venue for that weekend will be announced in due course.

The season is due to end with a record 23rd race of the year in Abu Dhabi on December 12 and F1 expects fans to return to the grandstands this year.


"It has been a busy start to the year at Formula 1 and we are pleased to confirm that the number of races planned for the season remains unchanged," said president and CEO of Formula 1 Stefano Domenicali.

"The global pandemic has not yet allowed life to return to normal, but we showed in 2020 that we can race safely as the first international sport to return and we have the experience and plans in place to deliver on our season.

"It is great news that we have already been able to agree a rescheduled date for the Australian Grand Prix in November and are continuing to work with our Chinese colleagues to find a solution to race there in 2021 if something changes.

"We are very excited to announce that Imola will return for the 2021 season and know our fans will be looking forward to the return of Formula 1 after the winter break and our revised season opener in Bahrain. Obviously, the virus situation remains fluid, but we have the experience from last season with all our partners and promoters to adapt accordingly and safely in 2021."


F1 2021 calendar in full:

March 28 – Bahrain (Sakhir)
April 18 - Italy (Imola*)
May 2 - TBC
May 9 – Spain (Barcelona)
May 23 – Monaco (Monaco)
June 6 – Azerbaijan (Baku)
June 13 – Canada (Montreal)
June 27 – France (Le Castellet)
July 4 – Austria (Spielberg)
July 18 – United Kingdom (Silverstone)
August 1 – Hungary (Budapest)
August 29– Belgium (Spa)
September 5 – Netherlands (Zandvoort)
September 12 – Italy (Monza)
September 26 – Russia (Sochi)
October 3 – Singapore (Singapore)
October 10 – Japan (Suzuka)
October 24 – USA (Austin)
October 31 – Mexico (Mexico City)
November 7 – Brazil (Sao Paulo)
November 21 - Australia (Melbourne*)
December 5 - Saudi Arabia (Jeddah**)
December 12 - Abu Dhabi (Yas Island)

*Revisions to calendar are subject to World Motor Sport Council approval **Subject to circuit homologation.

Miami Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have been ruled out of Tuesday's scheduled showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers due to the NBA's health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Butler and Adebayo were added to Miami's COVID-19 protocol list on Monday, joining team-mates Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, Maurice Harkless, Udonis Haslem and KZ Okpala.

Heat guard Avery Bradley had been placed on the health and safety protocols list before Sunday's matchup against the Boston Celtics was postponed.

The coronavirus situation also saw the postponement of Monday's game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, as well as the Celtics-Chicago Bulls encounter on Tuesday.

Miami are ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 4-4 record after reaching last season's NBA Finals, eventually beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Joan Laporta and Victor Font are among four candidates who look set to do battle for the Barcelona presidency later this month. 

Laporta, Font, Toni Freixa and Emili Rousaud all delivered signatures from enough socios on Monday to advance to the election on January 24. 

Laporta, previously president for a decorated period between 2003 and 2010, presented 10,272 signatures, significantly ahead of Font's 4,713, Frexia's 2,822 and Rousand's 2,510.

Validation of these signatures will begin on Tuesday, with confirmation of the final candidates announced on Thursday. 

Jordi Farre, Xavier Vilajoana, Agusti Benedito, Luis Fernandez Ala and Pere Riera were unable to meet the threshold of 2,257 signatures.

Given the small amount by which he passed the cut-off total, Rousand might yet miss out on the final run-off.

Barca last week ratified January 24 as the date for their presidential election despite calls for it to be postponed amid rising cases of coronavirus.

The region of Catalonia has recently imposed new restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections, with certain rules tightened for 10 days as of January 7.

While that does not interfere with the previously agreed date for the election, there had been increasing clamour for it to be delayed due to fears some members would not be able to vote.

But Barca confirmed on Thursday that the date of January 24 and "all procedures" have been accepted by the local authorities.

The NBA has postponed Monday's game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, as well as the Boston Celtics' clash with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, due to health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

It is the second straight game Boston has had postponed; Sunday's visit from the Miami Heat was called off just hours before tip-off.

The total number of games in the league that have not taken place as scheduled because of COVID-19 issues this season now stands at four. 

Entering this past weekend, the only game the NBA had called off was the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets matchup on December 23 - the second day of the season. 

On Sunday, Boston had seven players out due to health and safety protocols – and nine overall – while Miami did not have the required eight players because of contact tracing after guard Avery Bradley was ruled out. 

Dallas reportedly did not have enough players cleared on Monday because of contract tracing. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics or Mavericks will be able to play their next games on Wednesday. Boston is scheduled to host the Orlando Magic, while Dallas is slated to visit the Charlotte Hornets. 

The same uncertainty goes for the Heat, who are scheduled to visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. 

The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been temporarily suspended after the French authorities ruled the participation of Top 14 clubs to be too much of a public health risk. 

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) made the announcement on Monday following a meeting last week with French government officials. 

Due to concern over a new variant of coronavirus, the French government has decided to prevent its clubs from participating in games both in France and in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

It means the EPCR has been forced to suspend the Champions Cup with two rounds of the pool phase remaining. The Challenge Cup is in its preliminary phase. 

The development would appear to place the 2021 Six Nations, scheduled to start with a meeting between France and Italy in Rome on February 6, in jeopardy. 

Last year's Six Nations tournament was only completed in October because of the pandemic-enforced delay. 

An EPCR statement read: "EPCR and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby took part in a meeting by audio conference last week with representatives of the French ministries of the Interior, Health and Sport, as well as of the President's office. 

"Notable updates to EPCR's COVID-19 protocols were presented to the French authorities, including the addition of PCR tests no earlier than three days before matches in the tournaments, conforming to French government guidelines and supplementing the existing, meticulous contact tracing measures put in place with a view to limiting the risk of transmission. 

"Against the backdrop of the recent detection of a new strain of coronavirus, the French government has directed that French clubs postpone their participation in EPCR's tournaments for the month of January, both for matches scheduled in France and for those due to be played in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

"On the basis of this directive, EPCR had no choice but to temporarily suspend the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup and the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup. 

"While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, and prioritising the health and welfare of players and club staff, EPCR, in conjunction with its shareholder leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to resume and complete the tournaments as soon as practicable. 

"EPCR will be making no further comment at the present time." 

Celtic confirmed on Monday that manager Neil Lennon and 13 senior players are self-isolating, but the club are still defending the decision to hold a training camp in Dubai.

Defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for COVID-19 after the team returned to Scotland ahead of Monday's Premiership clash with Hibernian.

Although all other squad and staff members returned negative tests, Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players are self-isolating after being deemed close contacts.

The reigning champions remain insistent they followed "rigorous" COVID-secure protocols and that the threat of contracting the virus would have been similarly high had they stayed in Scotland.

In a statement, Celtic said: "Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.    

"These protocols have served us well in the past, as the club has not had one positive case in our own 'bubble' until now. As we have already stated, Celtic's decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons. Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.  

"The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.
 
"Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols. From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so."

Jose Mourinho is preparing for Tottenham's Premier League clash against Aston Villa to go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

After a significant coronavirus outbreak, Villa used youth players in a 4-1 FA Cup loss to Liverpool on Friday.

The outbreak has put their hosting of Spurs at risk, but a postponement would create more fixture chaos for Tottenham.

After a 5-0 FA Cup win over Marine on Sunday, Mourinho was asked when Tottenham's next game would be and the Spurs head coach responded: "Wednesday."

"No-one has told me any different that I am not going to play so tomorrow morning we'll start preparing that game," he added.

"The same Tuesday, unless we're told different."

Spurs are fourth in the Premier League table, four points behind Liverpool and Manchester United.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is available for Sunday's contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder, though Kyrie Irving remains out.

Durant missed three consecutive games due to the NBA's coronavirus health and safety protocols, but the two-time champion and Finals MVP is set to return at home to the Thunder in Brooklyn.

After sitting out the 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, Durant is averaging 28.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Nets this term.

Durant – the 2014 MVP – is also shooting 51.4 per cent from the field and 45.5 per cent from three-point range as Steve Nash's Nets sit at 5-5 in the Eastern Conference.

Nets team-mate Irving, meanwhile, will again be absent due to personal reasons.

NBA champion and six-time All-Star Irving has missed the past two games for the Nets.

Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in Brooklyn this season.

The NBA has postponed the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat showdown due to health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday's contest was set to go ahead, despite the Celtics missing seven players – including star pair Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – because of COVID-19 protocols, and nine in total.

But the NBA announced the postponement just hours before tip-off after a Heat player reportedly returned an inconclusive coronavirus test, leaving Miami without the required eight players to play due to contact tracing.

Heat guard Avery Bradley (health and safety protocols) had been ruled out of the game earlier in the day.

The Celtics were set to have the minimum eight players available against the Heat after Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Robert Williams II and Tristan Thompson were listed as outs pre-game.

Injuries had already forced Celtics pair Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) to miss the scheduled meeting.

It comes as COVID-19 outbreaks impact the NBA following a coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign in the United States.

Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers were depleted for Saturday's loss to the Denver Nuggets after Seth Curry tested positive for coronavirus.

Contract tracing seriously impacted Doc Rivers' 76ers, who were without Curry, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier, paired with injures to All-Star duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Philadelphia were only able to dress eight players against the Nuggets, though Mike Scott was unable to play due to a knee injury.

The Celtics own a 7-3 record in the Eastern Conference, ahead of last season's NBA Finals runners-up the Heat (4-4).

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