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Two UVA basketball players. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The ACC and Big 12 Conferences suffered COVID-related setbacks on Friday with announcements that the University of Virginia and University of Kansas' men's basketball teams had withdrawn from their respective conference tournaments, citing positive tests inside the programs.

Why it matters: The cancellations of the two semifinal games illustrate the continued threat the coronavirus poses to team sports, even as the country's vaccine campaign ramps up.

  • "The withdrawals ... immediately put into doubt whether some of the sport’s most prominent teams will be able to play in the N.C.A.A. tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week," the New York Times writes.

The state of play: Virginia's withdrawal means Georgia Tech automatically advances to the ACC Tournament championship game and will play the winner of Friday evening's Florida State vs. North Carolina game.

  • University of Kansas' drop out will lead the University of Texas to advance to the Big 12 men’s basketball championship game on Saturday.

Flashback: Duke was also forced to withdraw from its ACC quarterfinal match against Florida State on Thursday due to a positive COVID test among one of the team's players, per ESPN.

What they're saying: “I’m heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and support staff at both Duke and Virginia. Our teams have worked incredibly hard and sacrificed so much throughout this season," ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement.

  • “While we have been fortunate to avoid this throughout the season, there are daily risks with this virus that everybody participating is trying to avoid. We have followed the daily testing and additional protocols that have been setup for us, unfortunately we caught a bad break at the wrong time," said Kansas coach Bill Self, per The Kansas City Star.

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

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