More sporting events affected by spread of virusUNDATED (AP) — All sports in Italy will be halted because of the virus outbreak.Premier Giuseppe Conte announces that games and travel will be banned nationwide through April 3. That includes games in the country’s top soccer division and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics. Serie A has not been canceled since World War II.Events around the world have been affected by the spreading virus. The BNP Paribas Open, set to begin this week in the California desert, won’t be played as scheduled after a case of the virus was confirmed in the Coachella Valley. The announcement to cancel the tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, came after many players were already in the desert practicing. Qualifying matches were to begin Monday, with women’s main draw matches starting Wednesday and the men’s draw beginning Thursday. March 9, 2020 UNDATED (AP) — The St. Louis Blues, winners of nine of their last ten, host the Florida Panthers in one of the five games on the NHL schedule.The Vegas Golden Knights, who regained the top spot in the Pacific Division last night, skate at Edmonton.The Washington Capitals, who are now battling with Philadelphia for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, visit the Buffalo Sabres.Arizona is at Winnipeg, and Los Angeles hosts Colorado. The Kings have won five straight.NHL NEWS MLB-NEWSVerlander doesn’t expect to be ready for opening dayWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Houston ace Justin Verlander has a mild strain of a back muscle and said it would “probably take a miracle” for him to pitch in the Astros’ opener at Oakland on March 26.The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was hurt on his second-to-last pitch in Sunday’s exhibition game against the New York Mets. He had an MRI on Monday and was diagnosed with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle. There is not a timetable for his return.Verlander had a similar lat injury during spring training in 2015 and did not make his season debut until June 13. The 35-year-old two-time All-Star played 42 games with Memphis last season after agreeing to a buyout with the New York Knicks. Noah averaged 7.1 points, 2.1 assists and 5.7 rebounds for the Grizzlies.He’s been limited to 124 games since the end of the 2014-15 season in Chicago, which selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft.Noah was the NBA defensive player of the year in 2014. NHL-SCHEDULEBlues host Panthers The leagues made the announcement in a joint statement Monday night.The leagues said they made the decision “after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.” They say the changes will be temporary and that media will still have access to players.COLLEGE BASKETBALL POLLKansas retains top spotUNDATED (AP) — Kansas maintained its grip on the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll. UNDATED (AP) — Second-ranked Gonzaga meets San Francisco in tonight’s college basketball action. The only other ranked team in action is number-14 BYU, which plays Saint Mary’s.NBA-SCHEDULEBucks meet Nuggets, still without MVPUNDATED (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks will again be without MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s nursing a sprained knee, as they visit the Denver Nuggets tonight.The Bucks lost Friday night against the Lakers, in the game in which he was injured, and then lost to Phoenix last night. — New York Giants tight end Rhett Ellison has retired after eight seasons in the NFL. Ellison played at Southern California before being selected in the fourth-round of the 2012 draft by the Vikings. He spent five years in Minnesota before joining the Giants as a free agent in 2017. His 2019 season was cut short due to a concussion suffered against the Jets on Nov. 10. — The Las Vegas Raiders have released linebacker Tahir Whitehead after two seasons as a starter. The move saves the Raiders more than $6 million on the salary cap for 2020 as the team looks to overhaul a struggling defense. Whitehead was originally signed to a three-year, $19 million deal as a free agent in 2018 and started all 32 games with the Raiders the past two seasons. Whitehead led the team with 234 tackles but delivered few big plays with only one interception, one forced fumble and no sacks over the two seasons.— The Detroit Lions have announced their coaching staff for the 2020 season, including five new hires. Tyrone McKenzie is taking over as linebackers coach, Tony Carter has been hired as a defensive assistant, Morris Henry and Tom Kanavy are new assistant strength and conditioning coaches, and Ty Warren joins the team as part of the William Clay Ford minority coaching assistantship program. Detroit also announced three promotions: Josh Schuler was moved to head strength and conditioning coach. Steve Gregory was promoted to defensive backs coach and Ben Johnson to tight ends coach.NFL-LABORUnion extends vote deadline Update on the latest in sports: Associated Press French police say the Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes will be played without fans. It is the second of the four matches in the competition this week to be played in an empty stadium.The virus also forced the postponement of the Six Nations rugby match between France and Ireland. French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu says the decision was taken after discussions with tournament organizers and the French rugby federation.HORSE RACING-DRUGSTrainers, vets among more than two dozen chargedNEW YORK (AP) — The trainer of champion Maximum Security is among more than two dozen people charged in what authorities describe as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them race faster. After losing three in a row, the Toronto Raptors have won three straight, and they will look to extend that streak tonight in Utah against the Jazz.In tonight’s other NBA contest, the Atlanta Hawks host the Charlotte Hornets.NBA-CLIPPERS-NOAHClippers sign free-agent NoahLOS ANGELES (AP) — The Clippers have signed free-agent center Joakim Noah. NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL players’ union has extended the deadline for its members to vote on a new labor agreement with the league by two days to Saturday night.Ballots from some 2,500 members now are due at 11:59 EDT on Saturday. The NFL Players Association gave no reason for the extension, though reaching so many players to meet the previous deadline of one week certainly can present logistical problems.The 32 NFL owners approved the deal last month. The NFLPA’s executive board then rejected it 6-5, but the player reps voted 17-14 in favor.A simple majority of the union membership is required to accept or reject the contract that would run through the 2030 season.VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOCKER ROOMS BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Two people with knowledge of the decision tell The Associated Press that veteran cornerback Josh Norman has agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Buffalo Bills.The people spoke to The AP on Monday on the condition of anonymity because the signing has not been announced. NFL Network first reported the deal. Norman is an eighth-year player who spent the past four seasons in Washington before being released last month. He struggled to play to high expectations and was cut with one season left on a five-year $75 million contract he signed in free agency in 2016.In Buffalo, he is reunited with coach Sean McDermott, who served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator during Norman’s first four NFL seasons.In other NFL player news: NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS closing locker rooms amid virus scareMIAMI (AP) — The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus crisis.The leagues made the announcement in a joint statement Monday night.The leagues said they made the decision “after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.” They say the changes will be temporary and that media will still have access to players.SPORTS-VIRUS-OUTBREAK Elsewhere around major league training camps:— Clayton Kershaw will start the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opener against the visiting San Francisco Giants on March 26. Kershaw will extend his franchise record for opening day starts to nine. His streak of consecutive opening day starts was stopped last year when he began the season on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation and was replaced by Hyun-Jin Ryu.— The Milwaukee Brewers will be paying Christian Yelich until 2042, when the All-Star outfielder is 50 years old. Yelich’s $215 million, nine-year contract with the team calls for Brewers to defer $4 million each year from his $26 million annual salary from 2022-28. The 28-year-old outfielder is a two-time All-Star and a one-time Gold Glove winner.NFL-NEWSNorman reportedly agrees to deal with Bills Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditVIRUS OUTBREAK-LOCKER ROOMSNBA, MLB, NHL, MLS closing locker rooms amid virus scareMIAMI (AP) — The NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer are closing access to locker rooms and clubhouses to all non-essential personnel in response to the coronavirus crisis. The Jayhawks received all 65 first-place votes to remain at the top for a third straight week. The past two weeks they have been the unanimous choice ahead of Gonzaga and Dayton.Florida State climbed three spots to No. 4 after winning its first Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title. This is FSU’s highest ranking since sitting at No. 2 in December 1972.West Virginia and Butler were the week’s new additions. Michigan and Penn State fell out of the poll.COLLEGE BASKETBALL-SCHEDULEGonzaga in action Sharks, Red Wings extend defensemenUNDATED (AP) — The San Jose Sharks have signed defenseman Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.Simek was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer before the Sharks locked him up with the new deal worth a reported $9 million. The 27-year-old Simek made his debut with the Sharks last season. He has three goals and 15 assists in 88 career games. In other NHL news:The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Alex Biega to a one-year contract extension. Biega was acquired by the Red Wings in an Oct. 6 trade with Vancouver. He has three points — all assists — in 48 games with Detroit this season. The charges against horse trainers, veterinarians and others were detailed in four indictments unveiled Monday in Manhattan federal court. Among them is trainer Jason Servis, whose stable includes last year’s 3-year-old champion Maximum Security. He was charged with administering performance-enhancing drugs to that horse and others.Authorities say the drugs can cause horses to overexert themselves, leading to heart issues or death.Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference and has since won four of his five high-profile races.
Access to financing for small businesses will now be less restrictive with the implementation of the new $100 million Revolving Fund project.Business Minister Dominic Gaskin said the project would be executed by the Ministry’s semi-autonomous agency, the Small Business Bureau (SBB).The initiative will help to finance micro and small businesses whose goods and services are sustainable and environmentally friendly.Business Minister Dominic GaskinThe SBB currently invests in low carbon sectors to support the Government’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions, through loans, grants, and guaranteed collateral.However, Minister Gaskin pointed out that “…it is restrictive, and we have found that many small businesses that would have liked to access financing through that programme were not allowed to do so, because of the specific terms of reference”.The Business Minister explained the new initiative with its open terms of reference policy will differ from the ongoing access-to-finance programme, because “this $100 million Revolving Fund has no restrictions, in terms of what type of businesses can access it”.The Revolving Fund also aims to provide small loans to persons leaving the sugar industry who are desirous of establishing individual business ventures.In 2017, the SBB dispersed some 50 approved loans valued at $270 million to finance small businesses in the low-carbon sector across the country.