Sunday, July 5th, 2020 pm31 5:26pm

The Latest: Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns

Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns
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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:———

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the league’s return to play format this afternoon.

Bettman is set to make a televised address at 4:30 p.m. EDT about what hockey will look like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a 24-team straight-to-playoffs format with the league’s other seven teams having their seasons ended.

The Players’ Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed by the Return to Play committee. It involves the top four teams in each conference playing a mini-tournament for seeding, while the other 16 face off in best-of-five series to set the field.

There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts. This announcement does come on the heels of the league and NHLPA unveiling protocols for those workouts, including a limit of six players on the ice at a time.

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Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Tuesday that as long as the NFL’s Giants and Jets and the NHL’s Devils follow health and medical protocols, they could open training camps or even hold competition.

The NFL’s preseason and training camps wouldn’t begin until midsummer — teams are doing virtual workouts in place of the usual on-field activities because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the NHL is planning ways to complete the 2019-20 season. Should those plans include the Devils, they now can reopen their training facilities.

“Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition — if their leagues choose to move in that direction,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

“We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel.”

A Jets spokesman said: “We are working closely with Gov. Murphy’s office, the league and our medical staff to establish prudent, health and safety measures for our staff and players. Based on those guidelines, we will begin to open our facility using a phased approach at a time that is the most practical for our operations.”

The Giants echoed those sentiments and said: “With today’s announcement by the governor, we are finalizing our plans to reopen the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. We will continue to have as many employees as possible working remotely. For employees who need to return to work at our facility, we expect to begin that process next week, and we will do so in a systematic and safe way that adheres to the state’s guidelines and NFL protocols.”

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Formula One carmaker McLaren says 1,200 jobs will be lost across its entire group’s operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.

It was not immediately clear how the cuts would affect the group’s F1 operation. The sport has yet to start its 2020 season amid the pandemic.

The McLaren Group says “the cancellation of motorsport events, the suspension of manufacturing and retail activities around the world and reduced demand for technology solutions have all led to a sudden impact” on its revenue-generating activities.

McLaren says the reduced budget-cap level for F1 teams also led to the job losses.

The cuts represent about a quarter of the group’s workforce.

McLaren executive chairman Paul Walsh says “we plan to emerge as an efficient, sustainable business with a clear course for returning to growth.”

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World TeamTennis says it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at outdoor matches during its three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West Virginia.

All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation are on hold at least until late July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the WTT is not affiliated with those tours and does not need to abide by their decisions about when it is OK to compete. No ATP or WTA ranking points are available for its matches.

The WTT says it is increasing its prize money to $5 million. That is $1.5 million more than for its 2019 season.

The league is bringing all nine of its teams to one site at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, because of the pandemic instead of having matches around the United States.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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