By Mitch PhillipsLONDON, England (Reuters) – Wayde van Niekerk retained his world 400 metres title in dominant fashion yesterday as he stormed to victory in 43.98 seconds, but there was almost as much interest in the empty lane alongside him where Botswana’s Isaac Makwala should have been.South African van Niekerk, the Olympic and defending champion and world record holder, ran a controlled race and was even able to ease down over the final strides as he secured the first half of what he hopes will be a 400/200m double.Steven Gardiner, 21, of the Bahamas was a clear second in 44.41 and 20-year-old world junior champion Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar blasted through at the end to snatch bronze in 44.48.Makwala, third-fastest in the year this season, was scratched from the race earlier yesterday having also been withdrawn from Monday’s 200m heats after vomiting before he got on to the track.He insisted he wanted to run but IAAF officials ruled him out and refused him entry to the stadium amid a swathe of nanovirus and gastroenteritis cases that have affected about 30 athletes from a selection of countries.In his absence, van Nierkerk looked an even shorter-odds favourite and duly delivered, barely seeming out of breath when he crossed the line with his thoughts already turning to the 200m.“I’ve got a good team to help me recover and it’s back to work tomorrow (today),” he said.Long-striding Gardiner, who set a national record 43.89 in the semis, could not quite reproduce that on a cold London night but looks equipped to challenge van Niekerk in the future.Haroun, who switched nationality from Sudan to Qatar two years ago, edged past Baboloki Thebe of Botswana and Jamaica’s Nathon Allen in the final metres.Fred Kerley had scraped into the final as a fast loser but finished last as the United States failed to medal in the event for only the second time since the championships began in 1983.
Two teams are barred from playing until May 27 by the state of Saxony-Anhalt and can train only in small groups.___World Rugby has postponed July test matches involving southern and northern hemisphere nations because of ongoing restrictions on international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.The sport’s international governing body issued a statement Friday saying the mid-year test window will be rescheduled when cross-border travel and quarantine regulations are relaxed.New Zealand had been scheduled to play Wales and Scotland, Australia was set to play Ireland and Fiji and South Africa had planned to host Scotland and Georgia. World Rugby said the postponement is due “to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.” May 15, 2020 Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Russian soccer league will restart on June 21 after a break of more than three months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Associated Press The German soccer federation has delayed the restart of the men’s third-division because it doesn’t have political approval.The third division was scheduled to resume on May 26 amid the coronavirus pandemic but the federation says that can’t happen without the go-ahead from authorities around the country. Games in the first and second divisions will resume Saturday.The third division still has 11 rounds of games to play.The pandemic has put several third-division clubs under strain.Leader MSV Duisburg has financial problems and second-place Waldhof Mannheim told local newspapers on Thursday that it stopped training because it doesn’t have coronavirus tests. More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 The Latest: Russian soccer league to resume on June 21 ___Aussie rules football will kick off again on June 11, with the second round of the Australian Football League to be played almost three months after the competition was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.Australian Football League chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Friday announced the matches for the next four rounds of the condensed season would be released within 10 days. The AFL, Australia’s most-watched sports league in terms of attendance and TV audience, was suspended on March 22 after one round.Quarantine requirements and travel restrictions from some states means players and staff from the four AFL clubs from Western Australia and South Australia — the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide — will be temporarily be relocated to hubs on the Gold Coast, an hour south of Brisbane. ___ The league intends to pack eight rounds of games into just over one month to finish on July 22. League president Sergei Pryadkin says all games will be held in empty stadiums.The Russian Cup will also continue with the final on July 25. That means some clubs face up to 11 games to finish the season.A planned promotion-relegation playoff has been dropped with only the bottom two clubs in the top division relegated automatically as usual.The league has also adopted a rule change allowing up to five substitutions per match.___