👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,776 words (7 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
With the Summer Olympics scheduled to open in Tokyo in less than five months, organizers are grappling with the coronavirus outbreak — and facing questions about whether the Games could be moved, postponed or even canceled.
The state of play: Longtime International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound estimates that the IOC has until late May to decide if the Olympics can go forward as scheduled.
Why it matters: Public-health officials' warnings about the coronavirus are sounding increasingly urgent, so it's imperative that organizers take all necessary precautions ahead of the Olympics, where hundreds of thousands of people from every corner of the world will spend two weeks in close quarters then fly home.
The other side: Despite previous disease outbreaks (Zika in 2014) and frequent geopolitical tensions, the Olympics have only been canceled three times, all due to world wars (1916, 1940, 1944).
Worst case scenario: In the unthinkable case of a cancellation, an emergency ~$1 billion reserve fund could cushion the blow for the many international sports federations that rely on the IOC to balance their budgets, per Bloomberg.
💬 The last word...
"It's premature to call for the cancellation or postponement of Tokyo 2020. But with the torch relay about to begin and just 150 days remaining to the Opening Ceremonies, it's certainly not too early to ask how the organizers and the IOC realistically propose to keep the Summer Games healthy and secure."
"How can they prevent an outbreak with athletes from 200 countries and 7.5 million ticket holders preparing to jam into villages and venues? They better have a Plan B. So far, they don't."— Sally Jenkins, WashPost
The coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica. The WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.
Go deeper on Axios.com:
NFLPA president Eric Winston. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Day 3 of the NFL combine was overshadowed by labor negotiations, with player representatives from all 32 teams voting by a slim majority (17-14, with one abstention) to send the owners' CBA proposal to the full union membership.
What's next: Now, the owners must wait to see if a majority of the ~2,000 NFL players vote yes on the new 10-year deal, which includes a 17-game regular season and dictates how the league's annual revenue, which is expected to hit $25 billion by 2027, gets split.
What they're saying: Some players have already voiced their displeasure with the proposal.
📺 Coming up ... Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III will try to break John Ross' 40-yard dash record tonight. All the athletic tests to know:
Courtesy: Swarthmore Athletics
As February winds down, only one team in all of men's college basketball remains unbeaten: Division III Swarthmore (25-0), a tiny liberal arts college outside Philadelphia that's known more for its rigorous academics than its sports teams.
Meet the coach: Since arriving on campus eight years ago, Swarthmore head coach Landry Kosmalski — a former Davidson assistant who helped recruit Steph Curry 15 years ago — has transformed a destitute program into a powerhouse.
Meet the team: All five starters average double-digit points, and they all came from high schools within driving distance of Swarthmore's 425-acre campus (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia).
What's next: After finishing the regular season with an average scoring margin of 15.5 points, Swarthmore will play Muhlenberg in its Centennial Conference Tournament opener tomorrow.
Go deeper: D-III men's basketball rankings...
The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and teams are gearing up for the stretch run.
Note: "Diff." is short for goal differential (goals scored minus goals allowed).
MADRID — Manchester City have found little enjoyment in anything to do with UEFA lately thanks to their pending two-year ban, but a thrilling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid — the club's first win over the Spanish giant in five attempts — offered a brief reprieve.
SALT LAKE CITY — Jayson Tatum (33 points, 11 rebounds) led the Celtics past the Jazz, 114-103 and is averaging 30.5 points per game on 51.4% shooting this month. The only other Celtic to average 30 ppg on 50% shooting in a month in the three-point era? Larry Bird.
ALTENBERG, Germany — Savannah Graybill of the U.S. in action during a training run for the Women's Skeleton during the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation World Championships.
Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
60 years ago today, the U.S. stunned the Soviet Union en route to winning America's first hockey gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.
The big picture: 20 years later, the official "Miracle on Ice" took place in Lake Placid, New York, and immediately overshadowed the 1960 team's accomplishments. Today, they've been largely forgotten.
"I've always said, the difference between '80 and the '60 team, their film was in color, ours was black and white."— 1960 team member Bill Cleary, per Sports Collectors Digest
🎥 From the vault:
Lluis Gene/AFP via Getty Images
"Circus acts may lack the competition of sports, but [Cirque du Soleil's] shows are no less physically demanding. At times, they can require even more specialized athleticism," writes SportTechie's Joe Lemire.
By the numbers: During a catch-and-throw exercise for Messi10, a new show based on the life of soccer icon Lionel Messi, one performer experienced 15 times the force of gravity (15 G).
"Apollo and Mercury astronauts in the first days of the space program, they were hitting 8 G. Now we know that a Cirque performer is potentially doubling the G-force of an astronaut who is re-entering Earth. That is [expletive] cool, right?"— Steve Gera, CEO of Gains Group
"Cirque also has a long performance season, exceeding even the marathon schedule of big league baseball," writes Lemire.
Answer at the bottom.
Screenshot: CCY Architects
Kendall "I want Kelly Slater's life" Baker
Trivia answer: Alex Rodriguez (156 RBIs for the Yankees)