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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munchen in an empty stadium. Photo: Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

European soccer made a splash Thursday, with two of its biggest leagues announcing official return-to-play dates in June.

Why it matters: Soccer is the world's most popular sport, so watching its return through the lens of various leagues, countries and cultures — all of which have been uniquely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic — is illuminating.

Where things stand: Of the big five European leagues, Germany's Bundesliga has resumed play, England's Premier League and Italy's Serie A have official return dates, Spain's La Liga has an unofficial return date and France's Ligue 1 abandoned the season in April.

The big picture: Most women's leagues are either in limbo or have been abandoned. "It feels like the pandemic is undoing some of the recent progress in the women's game," writes Yahoo Sports' Leander Schaerlaeckens.

England's Premier League (standings)

  • Return date: June 17
  • Coronavirus numbers: 270,508 cases | 37,919 deaths
  • The state of play: The plan is to play 92 matches over roughly six weeks, with players tested twice a week and games played without fans. Liverpool home games will likely be at neutral venues due to fears of fans gathering en masse outside Anfield Stadium as The Reds close in on their first title in 30 years.

Italy's Serie A (standings)

  • Return date: June 20
  • Coronavirus numbers: 231,732 cases | 33,142 deaths
  • The state of play: Juventus, winners of the last eight league titles, are one point clear of Lazio atop the table with 12 matches remaining.

Spain's La Liga (standings)

  • Return date: June 11 (unofficial)
  • Coronavirus numbers: 237,906 cases | 27,119 deaths
  • The state of play: It appears either first-place Barcelona or second-place Real Madrid will win the league for the sixth straight year and the 15th time in the last 16 seasons. The last time someone else won? Atlético Madrid in 2014.

Germany's Bundesliga (standings)

  • Return date: Resumed on May 16
  • Coronavirus numbers: 182,450 cases | 8,472 deaths
  • The state of play: Bayern Munich holds a seven-point lead over second place Borussia Dortmund and look poised to win their eighth straight title. Matchday 29 (of 34) kicks off this afternoon.

France's Ligue 1 (standings)

  • Return date: Season abandoned in April (PSG crowned champs)
  • Coronavirus numbers: 186,364 cases | 28,665 deaths
  • The state of play: The legal battle against the decision to end the season will go to France's highest administrative court, with Lyon leading the charge to overturn the ruling.

Elsewhere in Europe, via Reuters:

  • Already resumed: Armenia, Belarus (never stopped), Czech Republic, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Hungary.
  • Plan to resume: Albania (June 3), Austria (June 2), Bosnia (June 13), Bulgaria (June 5), Croatia (May 30), Denmark (May 28), Finland (June), Ireland (June 8), Israel (May 30), Norway (June 16), Poland (May 29), Portugal (May 30), Russia (June 21), Serbia (May 29), Slovakia (June 13), Slovenia (June 5), Turkey (June 12), Ukraine (May 30).
  • Abandoned: Belgium, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Scotland, Wales.
  • To be determined: Andorra, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, North Macedonia, Romania, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland.

Go deeper: Golf could set the standard for sports' coronavirus reset

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

COVID cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to plummet all across the U.S.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 70,000 new cases per day, a 20% drop over the past two weeks.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

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