No fans, no protesters as Leipzig beats Mainz

Leipzig’s Timo Werner in action with 1.FSV Mainz 05’s Moussa Niakhate during a German Bundesliga soccer match between FSV Mainz 05 and RB Leipzig in Mainz, Germany, Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Kai Pfaffenbach/pool via AP)

BERLIN — Leipzig seemed to enjoy playing in an empty stadium with no protesters as it routed host Mainz 5-0 to move third in the Bundesliga on Sunday. Germany forward Timo Werner scored a hat trick.

Leipzig has got used to protests from rival fans due to its support from backer Red Bull. The energy drinks manufacturer founded the club in 2009 and helped finance its steady progress through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga.

Many fans object to what they claim is a distortion of fair competition. Leipzig players have been regularly whistled at away grounds, and Union Berlin supporters even held a “funeral march” for soccer before their team’s game in Leipzig earlier this season.

But supporters have been banned from Bundesliga games for the rest of the season in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The league resumed amid strict hygiene measures last weekend.

Werner opened the scoring in the 11th minute, and there were more goals from Yussuf Poulsen and Marcel Sabitzer before the break. Werner grabbed two more in the second half.

Leipzig, which beat Mainz 8-0 in front of its own fans earlier this season, took advantage of Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 3-1 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as it stayed three points behind second-place Borussia Dortmund. Fourth-place Leverkusen is a point behind Leipzig, with Gladbach a point further back, in the race for Champions League qualification. The top four qualify in Germany.

DELAYED DEBUT

After waiting 75 days, Heiko Herrlich finally made his debut in charge of Augsburg in a 3-0 win at Schalke earlier Sunday.

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Postponed Indy 500 puts short-track drivers in spotlight

GAS CITY, Ind. — The roaring engines and flying dirt pellets briefly brought Gas City I-69 Speedway back to life Sunday.

It wasn’t the same.

The grandstands were empty. Track organizers only allowed a few crew members per team to comply with Indiana’s social gatherings limit. Gabe Wilkins even brought a car with the freshly painted word “covid” next to his No. 19.

And despite being on centre stage with nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway still silent, everyone sensed something was missing. Seventy-five miles away, the Indianapolis 500 was devoid of a crowd, the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” even A.J. Foyt on its traditional race day.

“I went to my first Indianapolis 500 in 1969, and I love the 500,” track promoter Jerry Gappens said. “So it sure hasn’t felt like Memorial Day weekend. We’re not the Indianapolis 500 but at least we have racing and that’s a good sign.”

Dirt tracks, like this one in northeastern Indiana, have served as the lifeblood of automobile racing for decades. Some of the sports biggest stars began their careers at places like Gas City, rolling cars off haulers and working with family members in parking lots to solve problems.

Now, with the sports world revving up again, these sorts of venues could become a central component in establishing how to put fans back in the stands.

Leisure sports are leading the way with golf courses rapidly reopening, celebrity foursomes becoming all the rage and outdoors sports such as fishing, hiking and cycling surging in popularity as state’s relax stay-at-home orders.

One reason people flock to those sports today is that social distancing can be more easily achieved in non-contact outdoor sports.

But as Americans look for additional options to get out of their homes amid the global pandemic, automobile racing

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WNBA teams set to make tough decisions on roster cuts amid pandemic

New York Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb knew that he and first-year coach Walt Hopkins would have to make some tough decisions on the team’s roster this year.

He just didn’t think they’d have to do it so quickly and without seeing players compete in training camp. The WNBA and the players’ union decided that teams would have to get their rosters under the salary cap by Tuesday so that players could start getting paid on June 1.

It’s left many teams with tough decisions on who they will cut and little time to figure it out.

“It is the worst part of this job,” Kolb said in a phone interview. “These are dreams that are suddenly altered and you’re a large part of that. These are human beings, not just basketball players.”

Connecticut Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller had set up his training camp roster so a few position battles would determine the final spots on the team. Now he’ll have to make choices a different way.

“Ultimately we have to decide, because we can’t do it all together, what skill set strength of theirs makes most sense to round out our roster,” Miller said.

Teams usually have to cut their rosters to get under the salary cap before the regular season begins, which would have been on May 14. The WNBA postponed the start of the season in early April because of the coronavirus pandemic and is still focusing on a handful of scenarios that would allow it to play this year.

Teams typically would be able to evaluate players by their on-the-court actions. Now it’s more based on how quickly they pick things up on Zoom conference calls or how well they understand plays online.

“The league office didn’t foresee a pandemic,” Kolb said in

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