The Latest: Saints' Thomas donates to help with medical debt

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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New Orleans Saints All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas has joined with a non-profit group to help relieve $2.3 million in health care debt for Louisiana residents.

Thomas contributed $20,000 to the group RIP Medical Debt, which works with individual donors and organizations to purchase medical debt at steep discounts for people whose bills exceed their ability to pay.

''I hope these families get a little relief in knowing their medical bills have been taken care of during these very difficult times,'' Thomas said.

Thomas, who set an NFL record with 149 catches last season, also recently bought lunch for medical personnel at a New Orleans hospital.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread into the United States earlier this year, Louisiana has had more than 43,000 cases and at least 2,831 related deaths.

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The NCAA will consider a six-week plan for football teams to prepare for the start of their seasons that includes two weeks when teams can hold walk-throughs before full practices start.

A copy of the the Football Oversight Committee's plan, which still needs to be approved by the Division I Council, was obtained by The Associated Press. Sports Illustrated first reported on the one-page document.

The oversight committee has been working on a six-week model to lead into the season for weeks. It calls for two weeks preceding the start of a typical preseason practice schedule during which time teams can do up 20 hours per week or weight training, conditioning, film study, meetings and walk-throughs with coaches. Players would not be permitted to wear helmets and pads during walk-throughs, but a ball could be used for instruction.

NCAA rules state teams can begin preseason practice 29 days before the date of their first game. The walk-through period would begin 14 days before preseason practice, according to the proposal.

The plan has not been finalized but could be approved within two weeks.

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Want a tennis lesson from coaches who work with Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer?

Or how about from a former coach and player such as Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker or Goran Ivanisevic?

Bidding is open from Monday through June 29 for a fundraising auction organized by the ATP and ATP Coach Programme to sell private coaching lessons.

The money will be used to help tennis coaches who lost the chance to work while the tours have been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some donations will be given to a global COVID-19 relief fund.

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Iowa announced that one person tested positive for COVID-19 out of 237 tests performed on athletes, coaches and athletic department staffers to prepare for the beginning of voluntary individual workouts.

The school did not reveal who tested positive or whether it was a player. Iowa says the school began testing May 29. Football players were cleared to begin voluntary workouts on Monday, mostly weight training and conditioning, in team facilities.

Iowa says the person who tested positive will be isolated and quarantine will be prescribed for individuals who might have been exposed to that person.

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The group that runs the U.S. Open tennis tournament is eliminating 110 national positions and reducing travel costs over the next few years to deal with the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Tennis Association also announced Monday that it will close its headquarters in White Plains, New York, and shift remaining staff to an as-yet-undetermined location in the state.

Other budget-trimming moves include merging player development and facilities departments, and hosting only one in-person meeting per calendar year from 2021 to 2023.

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Wisconsin is permitting the voluntary return of football and volleyball players for initial health assessments and COVID-19 testing this week to clear the way for them to begin voluntary strength and conditioning activities June 15.

The men's and women's basketball teams will return later this month, followed by the men's and women's hockey teams.

Strength and conditioning activities are being altered to reduce health risks. Each station will have sanitation supplies. The weight racks will be spaced out and will be used by only one individual per session. Conditioning sessions will take place outside unless poor weather prohibits it.

Before arriving on campus, all athletes will undergo nasal swab testing for COVID-19. They will be tested again if they report symptoms, or if they're believed to have contacted someone who tested positive. Athletes will be screened daily before entering athletic facilities, and athletes and staff will wear masks at all times other than during conditioning activities.

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Orioles general manager Mike Elias is currently focused on this week's Major League Baseball draft, but he expects to soon turn his attention toward getting the team ready to play again.

In a conference call with media on Monday, Elias said he was ''very confident we're going to play.''

The return of baseball would be a bright spot in a year marred by the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented the season from starting.

The draft is Wednesday and Thursday and has been shortened to five rounds because of the pandemic. Baltimore has three picks in the top 39, including the second overall, as Elias hopes to rebuild a team that has lost more than 100 games in each of the past two seasons.

-- David Ginsburg in Baltimore

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NASCAR fans won't be allowed to attend when the Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday night, but the sport's impact will surely be felt by Henry County residents the next day.

The Joey Logano Foundation, the NASCAR Foundation and Elevation Outreach are partnering to bring a Convoy of Hope to Martinsville with the goal of providing 40,000 pounds of food and supplies to approximately 1,000 families during a drive-thru distribution at NASCAR's oldest track.

The effort is similar to one conducted at Darlington Raceway in May.

''After seeing how impactful Darlington went, we quickly moved forward and scheduled our next event with Convoy of Hope in Martinsville,'' Logano, chairman of his foundation, said in a release.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced NASCAR to pause its season in March. The race at Martinsville will be the seventh since the series went back to racing without fans last month.

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The North Carolina High School Athletic Association will lift its dead period next week to allow for in-person workouts for prep athletes.

The organization announced Monday that it would allow limited workouts beginning June 15, though education agencies across the Southern U.S. state must also permit it at a local level.

Restrictions for the first phase of return include having workouts of no longer than 90 minutes, with no more than 25 people at outdoor venues and no more than 10 in gymnasiums. They also require daily temperature checks and social distancing, along with instructing schools to keep the same groupings of athletes working together each time.

Locker rooms and weight rooms remain closed for now. The restrictions include no shared use of athletic equipment. Guidelines for future phases will be developed and shared at a later date.

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The Italian soccer federation has approved plans for a playoff or the use of an algorithm with no champion declared if the season is stopped again.

Serie A has been suspended since March 9 because of the coronavirus outbreak. It is scheduled to resume on June 20.

The plans were approved by an 18-3 vote at an FIGC council meeting. Italian soccer clubs had asked for no champion or relegations unless mathematically certain.

Playoffs are the preferred idea but an algorithm will be used to determine the final standings if matches cannot be held because of time restrictions or the worsening of the pandemic. But there will not be a champion if the algorithm is used.

The top two men's divisions are the only ones set to resume their regular seasons. The women's Serie A will not restart.

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English soccer club Brighton is offering fans the chance to have cardboard cutouts of themselves in the stadium when the Premier League resumes.

Games in the league will be closed to spectators for the remainder of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Five of Brighton's nine remaining games are at home. The first is on June 20 against Arsenal.

Fans need to send in a photo wearing a Brighton jersey and pay $25.

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Italy's female soccer players are against the possibility of a playoff format to finish their season.

A decision on whether and how the Serie A women's league will resume is expected to be made during an Italian soccer federation meeting.

One of the proposals is to have playoffs. That would involve half of the 12 Serie A teams.

A statement by the Serie A women's players says they are against it because ''it doesn't guarantee true fairness.''

They say ''we all go out on the field or no one does.''

Juventus, AC Milan and Sassuolo are the only three clubs which have managed to resume training. Many of the clubs also have players who are still abroad.

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

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