Major League Baseball Season To Start In July, Says Commissioner

Major League Baseball
File photo Major League Baseball



The 2020 Major League Baseball season is set to start in July, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday, after players signed off on health protocols and agreed to report to training.

The announcement that the season will begin July 23 or 24 comes after weeks of wrangling between owners and players over a framework for a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Major League Baseball is thrilled to announce that the 2020 season is on the horizon,” Manfred said in a statement.

“We have provided the Players Association with a schedule to play 60 games and are excited to provide our great fans with baseball again soon.”

Manfred’s comments came after the Major League Baseball Players Association said its members would report to training camps on July 1.

“All remaining issues have been resolved and players are reporting to training camps,” the union said.

MLB and the MLBPA had been at loggerheads over how to salvage a season that should have begun on March 26.

The league proposed a succession of deals that would have seen the players receive only a percentage of their salaries, prorated by number of games played.

Players pushed back against the league proposals, noting that they had already agreed to a pay cut in March and should not be required to accept a further reduction in salary.

The MLBPA had wanted a longer regular season, but when the union rejected the most recent MLB proposal owners voted on Monday to impose a 60-game schedule — which would still be contingent on reaching agreement with players on health and safety protocols.

MLB said in a statement posted on that the players had accepted the protocols.

When the season gets underway teams will play in their home ballparks without fans, baseball opting against the kind of “bubble” environment that will see the NBA return to action with all teams playing at a single location at a sports complex at Disney World in Florida.

To decrease travel, each team will play the majority of its games against its four division rivals, and remaining games against the clubs in the corresponding geographical division in the other league.

Under format, players will receive the full prorated share of their salaries.

Multiple media outlets reported that as usual 10 teams will qualify for the playoffs.


Nigerian Air Force Thwarts Bandits’ Attack In Kaduna

Air Force Personnel Dies In Parachuting Accident
File: NAF



The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has thwarted an attack by armed bandits along the Kwauya-Tsamiya village axis in Kaduna State. 

This is according to a statement issued on Monday by the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major General, John Enenche.

According to the statement, the personnel of the 404 Force Protection Group (404 FPG) NAF Base Kaduna thwarted the planned attack in the early hours of Sunday.

READ ALSO:  NDLEA Arrests 158 Suspected Drug Dealers In Katsina

Major General Enenche explained that this followed “reports that some cattle rustlers/armed bandits had raided the Fulani settlements adjacent to the NAF Base and seized some heads of cattle from some herders at gun point.”

The statement further noted that a Rapid Response Force (RRF) Team was dispatched to pursue and recover the rustled cattle.

“The RRF Team, supported by NAF Special Forces deployed to Operation BADAMAMAKI, in conjunction with the local vigilantes, quickly located the bandits and engaged them in a firefight causing them to retreat in multiple directions abandoning 40 cattle in the process,” the statement added.

“While there were no casualties to any civilian or NAF personnel in the encounter, some of the bandits managed to escape with gunshot wounds.”

This is as the statement commended the officers for their gallantry and urged them “to sustain their efforts to curb the activities of bandits and all other criminal elements threatening the peace and security of our beloved country.”


COVID-19: South Africa’s Cases Push Past 100,000

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
File: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP


South Africa on Monday said it had over 100,000 coronavirus cases, the highest in the continent, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.

“As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa has breached the 100, 000 mark at 101,590,” the health ministry said.

Sixty-one deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,991.

Despite the grim death toll, data shows that the mortality rate in South Africa is at two percent, while 52.6 percent of virus patients have recovered.

The worst-hit area is the coastal province of the Western Cape, accounting for 1,458 of the country’s deaths and more than half of its infections.

According to the World Health Organization, South Africa accounts for more than half of Africa’s coronavirus infections.

Nigeria and Ghana are next on the list, having recorded over 20,000 and 14,000 cases respectively.


298 Nigerians Depart UAE As 17 Others Arrive Abuja From Senegal

Emirates Airlines
File: The Emirates Airlines plane conveying 300 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 19, 2020.


Two hundred and ninety eight Nigerians have departed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the country with 17 others arriving Abuja from Senegal on Sunday. 

This is according to a series of tweets, on Monday, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

READ ALSO: 350 Stranded Nigerians Return From UAE, Pakistan

According to Mr Onyeama, the Nigerians will arrive at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos via an Emirates Airline.

The Minister explained that upon their arrival from the UAE, they will undergo the mandatory 14-day isolation as prescribed by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.


On the 17 Nigerians who were evacuated from Senegal, the Minister explained that they were received in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Sunday.

ECOWAS Endorses Okonjo-Iweala For WTO Director-General Post

A file photo of former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
A file photo of former Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala



The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has backed Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General.

In a statement by ECOWAS dated June 19, 2020, and shared by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema on Twitter, the regional body said it took the decision based on the authority of the Heads of State and Government of its member-nations.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Some Big Businessmen Are Hoarding Foodstuff, Says Agric Minister


The statement signed by the President of ECOWAS, Mahamadou Issoufou, comes as a big boost to Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy after the African Union (AU) had last week rejected her nomination.

According to the ECOWAS leader, the body’s endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala also followed the information it got from chairman of the General Council of the WTO informing the regional body of her nomination alongside four others for the role.

ECOWAS said it also took the decision having “acknowledged the strong academic and professional background of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and her very large experience in national affairs as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006) and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister briefly in 2006.”

The statement added that since the inception of the WTO, no African has worked as the DG of the body, making the endorsement more appropriate.

Issoufou, therefore, called on other African and non-African countries to back the former World Bank Managing Director’s candidacy, saying Africa needs a strong representative in the WTO election.

See the statement on Okonjo-Iweala’s endorsement below:




‘A Big Thank You’

Okonjo-Iweala also took to her official Twitter handle to thank ECOWAS for backing her candidacy for the WTO top job.

“A big thank you to the Economic Community of West African States for supporting my candidacy for DG WTO,” she said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 5th, 2020, nominated her as Nigeria’s candidate for the job. 

WHO Urges Dexamethasone Boom For Worst Virus Cases

This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
This picture taken on April 24, 2020 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva next to their headquarters, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus.


The World Health Organization called on Monday for a rapid increase in production of dexamethasone, a cheap steroid which has been shown to reduce deaths in critically ill coronavirus patients.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said demand had already surged after a British trial of the drug was publicised but he was confident production could be ramped up.

Some 2,000 patients were given the drug by researchers led by a team from Oxford Unversity, and it reduced deaths by 35 percent among the most sickly, according to findings published last week.

“Although the data are still preliminary, the recent finding that the steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19 patients gave us a much-needed reason to celebrate,” Tedros told a virtual news conference in Geneva.

“The next challenge is to increase production and rapidly and equitably distribute dexamethasone worldwide, focusing on where it is needed most.”

– Priority countries –

Dexamethasone has been on the market for over 60 years and usually serves to reduce inflammation.

The WHO emphasises that dexamethasone should only be used for patients with severe or critical disease under close clinical supervision.

“There is no evidence that the drug works for patients with mild disease or as a preventative measure, and it could cause harm,” Tedros warned.

The UN health agency boss insisted that countries with large numbers of critically ill coronavirus patients needed to be prioritised.

But Tedros warned that suppliers had to guarantee quality “as there is a high risk of substandard or falsified products entering the market”.

– ‘Grim record’ –

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has topped nine million and killed more than than 468,500 people since the outbreak began in China last December, according to an AFP tally using official sources.

“Almost every day we reach a new and grim record,” said Tedros, noting that more than 183,000 new cases were reported to the WHO on Sunday — easily the most in a single day so far.

Some countries were witnessing a rapid increase in cases and deaths, he said, while others that had successfully suppressed transmission were now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopened their societies and economies.

After the initial outbreak in China, the epicentre of the virus has moved from East Asia to Europe and now to the Americas.

But its presence in Europe seems to go back much earlier than previously thought, with a study showing that fragments of the new coronavirus was in the wastewater in Milan and Turin back in December.

“Clearly there is a chance that this virus was circulating in northern Italy obviously before anyone had realised that it had been,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.

But he added: “I don’t think that, at this point, it changes the hypothesis of disease origin.”

– Mink link –

Scientists believe the virus originally jumped from animals to humans, with the focus on a market that sells exotic animals for meat in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said studies in northern Europe seemed to show that humans had been infected by mink.

Dutch authorities reported two possible cases in May where humans were believed to have caught the virus from the animals, which are farmed for their fur.

“There are some minks that have been found positive in the Netherlands and in Denmark,” said Van Kerkhove.

“What we understand from these investigations, which are currently ongoing, is that there were… people who infected the mink — and in turn, some of these minks infected some people.

“It is very limited in terms of the transmission that is happening.”

Ize-Iyamu Asks Obaseki To Set Aside His Anger And Return To APC



Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has called on Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State to sheathe his sword and return to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Pastor Ize-Iyamu made the appeal on Monday in Benin City, Edo State after he emerged as the governorship candidate of the APC for the September 19, 2020 poll in the South-South State.

According to him, Governor Obaseki should “set aside his anger” and return to the APC, adding that it will be a mistake for him (Obaseki) to leave the party.

READ ALSO: Buhari, APC Governors Meet Over Party Crisis

He argued that there are bound to be issues in “every family” and that it would be bad for Obaseki to leave the APC due to some disagreements.

‘Family’ Issue

“I will like to appeal to him to return to the party,” he said. “In every family, you have disagreements; let it not be said that it was this disagreement that pushed him out.”

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 Edo election said he made “that mistake before and I have come to realize it was a grievous error and I would not want him as an elder brother to make the same mistake.”

Furthermore, he said Obaseki’s defection to the PDP is not the best choice, assuring that he would work with him (Obaseki) for the betterment of Edo State if he returns.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu explained that in the “APC, he (Obaseki) is recognized as a leader but in the new party you are going to, it will be difficult for them to accept you as a leader.

“It would be nice for him to come back and we are ready to work with him and all well-meaning Edo people.”

‘Atmosphere of Peace’

The APC governorship candidate called on Edo people and political parties to eschew violence during the election campaign, urging them to work in an “atmosphere of peace and love.”

He lamented that the atmosphere in the state has been tensed in the past few months which he admitted had slowed down the pace of development.

The APC also did well in conducting its primary election without violence, according to Ize-Iyamu who lauded members of the party for the peaceful exercise.

PDP ‘Energy’

Obaseki joined the PDP on Friday, June 19, 2020 after quitting the APC and had picked up his PDP membership card at the party’s secretariat in Benin City.

While addressing party officials, the governor said he automatically becomes the PDP leader in the state following his defection.

Obaseki also reiterated his commitment to providing what he described as quality leadership, adding that he is ready to lead the party to victory in the governorship election.

He noted that “the energy I see in this party is the kind of energy I require to take Edo to the level we should go to next.”

Japan To Let 5,000 Fans Attend Baseball, Football Games

File: About 5,000 photo panels of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars fan are displayed amid empty stadium seating during the Japanese professional baseball match between DeNA and Hiroshima at the Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture on June 19, 2020. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP


Up to 5,000 fans will be able to attend Japanese football and baseball games from July 10, officials said Monday as the sports inch towards normality after coronavirus suspensions.

The heads of Nippon Professional Baseball and football’s J-League announced the move at a joint press appearance after consultations with infection experts.

“We must fully consider the current situation… but we have received word from government officials that we can declare that we will let spectators in from the 10th of next month,” baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito told a press briefing.

J-League chief Mitsuru Murai said the same date would apply for football matches.

Stadiums will admit only 5,000 spectators or 50 percent of their capacity, whichever number is smaller. Fans are expected to be asked to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and avoid shouting, according to reports.

Professional baseball, Japan’s most popular sport, began its season last Friday behind closed doors after a three-month delay as the coronavirus pandemic swept around the world.

The top tier of Japan’s J-League football will return on July 4, initially in front of empty stadiums.

While Japan has experienced a comparatively small coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic has forced a one-year delay of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with some experts concerned that even that postponement may not be enough time for the event to be held safely.

Japan’s government last month lifted a national state of emergency over the virus, saying major events such as sports games could only gradually allow fans to return to stadiums.


‘Incredible’ Ronaldo Will Rediscover Best Form – Sarri

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Juventus vs AC Milan on June 12, 2020 at the Allianz stadium in Turin, the first to be played in Italy since March 9 and the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus.
File: Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Juventus vs AC Milan on June 12, 2020 at the Allianz stadium in Turin, the first to be played in Italy since March 9 and the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP


Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has told Cristiano Ronaldo not to worry about his slow resumption to the season, insisting on Sunday the Portuguese star will return to being “the most incredible player of all time”.

They will play their first Serie A match in over three months against Bologna on Monday, four days after losing the Italian Cup final to Napoli.

The Serie A leaders failed to score in their two Cup matches since the Italian season resumed following the coronavirus lockdown, with goalless draws against AC Milan in the semi-finals, where Ronaldo missed a penalty, and with Napoli in the final before a 4-2 defeat on penalties.

“I spoke to Cristiano again yesterday. He must not worry about trust,” Sarri said.

“He must not lose confidence, as soon as he regains his brilliance he will return to being the most incredible player of all time.

“At the moment, physically he cannot give the maximum.”

Ronaldo, 35, has scored 25 goals for Juventus in all competitions this season.

He spent the coronavirus lockdown in his native Portugal.

“We must not forget that we have arrived after being inactive for 60 days and the physical brilliance cannot be at the highest levels,” said Sarri.

Ronaldo also failed to find the net in Juventus’ last two matches before the lockdown, having scored in nine straight matches before that.

Juventus have just a one-point advantage over Lazio in the Serie A table, as they target a ninth consecutive Scudetto.

The 61-year-old urged his players to “turn the page” quickly having lost two finals this season, after the Italian Super Cup loss to Lazio in December.

“Losing a trophy is always painful, it hurts, it gives disappointment and bitterness, but this is the situation and we must not beat ourselves up,” said the former Chelsea coach.

“We have to turn the page and think about our next games. We hope to improve quickly in the next 10 days, both in physical and mental condition.”

Sarri, meanwhile, dismissed reports he had a training ground bust-up with Bosnia midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

“The story of my quarrel with him is fake news,” said Sarri.

“Pjanic is one of the guys I talk to the most and, like the whole team in the last two games, he has played well in the opening minutes, dropping a bit during the game.”


Tennis Star Dimitrov Tests Positive For Coronavirus

File: Tennis star, Grigor Dimitrov. Photo: [email protected] Grigor Dimitrov


Grigor Dimitrov said on Sunday he has tested positive for coronavirus after pulling out of an exhibition tournament which also featured world number one Novak Djokovic.

“I want to reach out and let my fans and friends know that I tested positive back in Monaco for Covid-19,” world number 19 Dimitrov wrote on Instagram.

“I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering.”

Last weekend, Dimitrov, 29, took part in the Adria Tour event in Belgrade with Djokovic, world number three Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, ranked seven.

He also played in the second leg of the Balkans tournament in Zadar on Croatia’s Adriatic coast on Saturday.

However, he withdrew after losing to Borna Coric, complaining of feeling unwell.

Later on Sunday, the final between Djokovic and Russia’s Andrey Rublev was immediately cancelled as a precaution.

“This is the best possible decision. We have to take care about security of all involved,” former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, the tournament director of the Zadar event, said in remarks quoted by local media.

“Those who were in contact with Grigor will be tested. I tested by chance three days ago and I’m negative.”

Zverev and former US Open winner Marin Cilic were also in the Croatia line-up.

“I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions,” added Dimitrov.

– ‘Novak took news very hard’ –

Djokovic’s brother Djordje, who is the overall tournament director, told Sportske Novosti daily paper online edition: “Novak? He took this news very hard. We undertook all the measures prescribed by the governments of Serbia and Croatia.”

Bulgarian Dimitrov is a former world number three who was the ATP Tour Finals champion in 2017, one of his eight career titles.

The Adria Tour, organised to fill the gap in the virus-hit tennis calendar which has been on ice since mid-March, played out to a daily crowd of 4,000 fans at Djokovic’s tennis centre on the banks of the Danube in Belgrade last week.

Dimitrov, Djokovic and Thiem, as well as the other players, were then seen partying at a packed Belgrade night spot.

Thiem has since travelled to the south of France to play in another exhibition tournament, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

On Sunday, tournament chief Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, tweeted a picture of Thiem undergoing a coronavirus test at the event being staged at his tennis academy.

The Adria Tour had already suffered an embarrassing setback when the planned Montenegro leg of the four-nation tournament was cancelled over coronavirus protocol rules.

Montenegro was due to be the third stop on June 27 and 28 after Croatia and before the conclusion in Bosnia.

But organisers said the visit to Montenegro had to be called off when it became apparent Serbia did not match strict health requirements.

Meanwhile, asked to comment on social distancing measures during the Belgrade leg, Djokovic said both Serbia and the region had been relatively successful in containing the virus.

“Of course you can criticise, you can also say this is dangerous or not, but it’s not up to me to make the calls what is health-wise right or wrong,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner told reporters, stressing he was acting in line with recommendations of the Serbian government.

Last week, the ATP and WTA said they were restarting their tours in August.

However, the US Open in New York will be played behind closed doors and under strict health protocols which Djokovic has described as “extreme” and “impossible”.

The drama surrounding Dimitrov’s test brought sympathy but also questions from fellow players.

“While watching images from the Adria Tour, I kind of felt that something was really wrong. Am I the only one? Is it a consequence of it? Get better soon Grigor,” tweeted French player Alize Cornet.

Noah Rubin of the US added: “It’s just not okay. Reckless and disappointing that they thought tennis deserved the risk.”

Senate President Meets Buhari Over National Security, APC Crisis


President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on Sunday, met behind closed door at the State House in Abuja.

The Senate President revealed this in a tweet on his official handle where he noted that they discussed the crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as national security among other issues.

According to Senator Lawan, the party will take certain actions to see that the crisis within the APC is resolved.

READ ALSO: Controversy As Giadom, Etta Lay Claim To APC Chairmanship Seat

Senator Lawan called on the country’s security chiefs to sit up but admitted that the security agencies need more funding as well as manpower to tackle the challenges facing Nigeria.

“The current situation (in APC) should not and must not be allowed to further degenerate than it has,” the Senate President said.

He added that “we (APC) must go into the constitution of our party and see how we are to address the issues, but while we do this, we must not allow the situation to continue as it is today.”

See photos from the meeting below: 

Photo:[email protected]
Photo:[email protected]

COVID-19: Lagos Discharges 45 Recovered Patients

A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu
A file photo of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu


The Lagos State Government has discharged 45 recovered COVID-19 patients after they tested negative to the virus.

This was revealed in a tweet on the Lagos State Ministry of Health official handle on Sunday.

According to a breakdown given by the Ministry, the recovered and discharged patients include 18 females and 27 males.

READ ALSO: Resident Doctors Suspend Nationwide Strike

“Today, 45 fully recovered COVID-19 Lagos patients; 18 females and 27 males were discharged from our Isolation facilities to reunite with the society,” the statement noted.

It further explained that 20 of the patients were discharged from the Gbagada Isolation Centre, nine from Onikan, two from the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, one from Agidingbi, one from Lekki and 12 from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

“With this, the number of COVID-19 cases successfully managed and discharged in Lagos has risen to 1328,” the ministry said, urging Lagosians to keep doing their “part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Infection Rate On The Rise

On Saturday, Nigeria recorded 661 more positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) – one of the highest figures reported so far in the country.

This was confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in a tweet on Saturday night, saying 19 more people died of complications related to the virus.

Giving a further update on the outbreak of the disease, the health agency noted that the new cases were reported in 13 states across the country and the Federal Capital Territory.

It added that Nigeria now has 19,808 confirmed cases of COVID-19, out of which 6,718 have been discharged with 506 others dead.