American sports: Virus uptick impacts major US sports leagues

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta (left) makes a save against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Dec 12, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A fresh wave of positive Covid-19 test results has hit three major American sports leagues this week, forcing the National Hockey League (NHL) to postpone games and throwing into question whether it will send players to the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

The NHL announced the postponement of the Carolina Hurricanes' game on Tuesday (Dec 14) after additional players from the team were forced to enter into Covid-19 protocols.

At least nine NHL games will need to be rescheduled following outbreaks at the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid on Tuesday told the CBC that he wanted to compete at the Feb 4-20 Beijing Games.

Yet, he described potentially having to quarantine for up to five weeks in China in the event of a positive test result as "unsettling".

"There hasn't been a ton of information come out, and then there's that three-to-five week (quarantine) thing... it's kind of been floating around," McDavid said.

"Just trying to gather all the facts and information."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has until Jan 10 to withdraw from the Beijing Games without financial penalty.

The National Basketball Association's (NBA's) Los Angeles Lakers cancelled Tuesday's practice after guard Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive for Covid-19 and entered the league's health and safety protocols, ESPN reported.

Horton-Tucker's test result came a day after the NBA announced that two Chicago Bulls games had been postponed after 10 players and additional staff members were placed in protocols, which marked the first postponements the league has had to make this season.

Seven members of the Brooklyn Nets have also entered into protocols, the team said.

The National Football League's (NFL's) Los Angeles Rams placed star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and eight other players on the league's Reserve/Covid-19 list, the team said on Tuesday, which led to the closing of its practice facility.

Beckham Jr. scored a touchdown in the Rams 30-23 road win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night in a game where the Rams dropped four players just before the contest due to protocols.

"Where we're at right now is navigating through this Covid stuff," Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters on Tuesday.

"We had to test guys. We're in intensive protocols. We're remote today. We will be remote tomorrow.

"This has definitely been the most uniquely challenging situation we've dealt with with Covid over the last two years."

No NFL games have yet been postponed due to Covid-19 this season.

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