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The Seattle Mariners' Mitch Haniger hits a home run during a preseason game against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo last March. Photo: Masterpress/Getty Images

The Yomiuri Giants, Japan's most famous baseball team, called off a preseason game Wednesday after two players tested positive for coronavirus, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: The 12-team league hopes to open its delayed season on June 19 in empty stadiums, but this news puts that date at risk. And it serves as a reminder that every return-to-play proposal is subject to change based on the wobble of this virus — and that all leagues are one positive test away from their plans going up in smoke.

  • What's next: All Giants players, coaches and staff will be tested for coronavirus on Thursday morning (it's currently nighttime there).

The latest on sports leagues' plans to return here in the U.S.:

  • NBA: As the NBA models a 22-team format for its proposed return on July 31 at Disney World, a timeline shared with teams showed Oct. 12 as the latest possible date to complete the season, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • MLS: If approved by players (could happen as early as this morning), MLS will reportedly return on June 24 with a tournament-style competition at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
  • WNBA: If there is a season this year, the WNBA plans to hold games at just one location. The MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and the IMG Academy in Florida are reportedly the top candidates.
  • U.S. Open: The USTA has proposed a doubleheader in New York to salvage two of its biggest tournaments. The proposal would move the Western & Southern Open, a men's and women's event near Cincinnati, to New York, where it would be lead directly into the U.S. Open at the same venue.

Go deeper: The last baseball players standing during the coronavirus shutdown

Go deeper

Sep 11, 2020 - Health

We're numb to the coronavirus

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

We're over COVID even if it isn't over us.

Why it matters: Six months into the pandemic, online engagement around coronavirus stories has dropped off markedly and continues to reach new lows even as the pandemic continues, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Updated Dec 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

OSHA fines South Dakota meat packing plant for 'failing to protect employees' from coronavirus

The Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in April. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

The Department of Labor this week issued its first coronavirus-related citation at a meat packing plant, fining the Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. nearly $13,500 for "for failing to protect employees from exposure" to the virus.

Why it matters: The meatpacking plant, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became an early coronavirus hotspot in April after hundreds of positive cases were traced to the facility. At the time, the company's sick employees made up about 44% of South Dakota's COVID-19 cases, per the NY Times.