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LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Football at UCLA and USC is getting a little closer to returning to the field.

The ACC, Big 12, SEC and, now the Big Ten are playing this fall. The Pac-12 remains on the sidelines for now because of coronavirus concerns in California and Oregon, but discussions are underway which could change that.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday the state's COVID-19 restrictions do not necessarily prevent the California teams from taking the field.

"There's nothing in the state guidelines that denies the Pac-12 from having conference games," Newsom said. "There's nothing in our guidelines the state put out that denies these games from occurring."

He said he spoke to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott about that subject earlier Wednesday and he is committed to working with the conference and with the NCAA to keeping students and the campus community safe while considering the return of collegiate sports.

Additionally, the athletic directors at USC and UCLA held a Zoom call with Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday to make progress on allowing the football teams to begin practicing, sources told Eyewitness News. The feedback was described as positive.

Half of the schools in the Pac-12 have been unable to ramp up preparation for the season because of restrictions put in place by state and local authorities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Later Wednesday, the Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced a breakthrough with the California and Oregon governors that was helped along by the conference's plans to soon begin testing athletes daily for the virus.

"The Pac-12 welcomes today's statements by Governor Newsom of California and Governor Brown of Oregon that state public health officials will allow for contact practice and return to competition, and that there are no state restrictions on our ability to play sports in light of our adherence to strict health and safety protocols and stringent testing requirements, including our recently announced partnership with Quidel which will enable daily rapid results testing," Scott said.

He added: "Our California and Oregon universities will now each individually and immediately reach out to their relevant county public health officials to seek clarification on what is required to achieve the same clearance to resume contact practice and competition."

Earlier this month, the Pac-12 announced a partnership that would give the conference's schools the capacity to perform daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes. Scott has called the testing a "game-changer" and it certainly proved to be so in the Big Ten. That league's university presidents unanimously voted to return to competition in all fall sports and said their schools will begin daily antigen testing on Sept. 30.

The Pac-12 CEO Group is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the conference's options. Because of the restrictions, it might take the teams that had been limited, including conference favorites Oregon and Southern California, more than a month to be ready to play. An Oct. 24 start, lined up with the Big Ten, could be challenging.

President Donald Trump pushed for the Big Ten to get back to football and had a similar sentiment for the Pac-12.

"I want to recommend Pac-12, you're the only one now," Trump said. "Open up, open up Pac-12."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tags: sports sports gavin newsom coronavirus california coronavirus usc trojans pac 12 ucla bruins college football covid 19 california and the conference the big ten

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Pompeo, Vatican talk China after tensions spill out publicly

ROME (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vatican officials discussed their differences over China on Thursday, the Vatican said, a day after tensions over the Holy See’s outreach to Beijing spilled out in public.

Pompeo spent 45 minutes in the Apostolic Palace with his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said both sides “presented their respective positions” about relations with China in a climate of “respect, openness and cordiality.”

Pompeo was in Rome to participate in a conference on religious freedom organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and to meet with Italian and Vatican officials.

The Vatican declined Pompeo’s request to see Pope Francis, citing Holy See policy to not grant papal audiences during election campaigns, Parolin said.

During the Wednesday conference, Pompeo urged the Holy See to join the United States in denouncing violations of religious freedom in China, part of the U.S. campaign to criticize Beijing’s crackdown on religious and ethnic minorities that has increased amid the coronavirus pandemic and before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

The conference was held at the same time the Vatican is entering into delicate negotiations with Beijing on extending their controversial 2018 agreement on nominating bishops for China.

The Vatican is seeking to extend the accord, which envisages a process of dialogue in selecting bishops. It signed it in 2018 in hopes it would help unite China’s Catholics, who for seven decades have been split between those belonging to an official, state-sanctioned church and an underground church loyal to Rome.

Pompeo has strongly criticized the accord, penning an essay earlier this month suggesting that the Vatican had compromised its moral authority by signing it. His article greatly irritated the Vatican, which saw it as interference in the church’s internal affairs for the sake of scoring domestic political points.

The Vatican secretary of state, Parolin, said the Holy See was “surprised” by Pompeo’s article. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Parolin said the private meetings Pompeo had scheduled at the Vatican would have been the more appropriate setting to express his concerns, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Pompeo started his day Thursday visiting the Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity active in caring for refugees in Italy and providing HIV-AIDS care in Africa. Arriving at Sant’Egidio’s headquarters, Pompeo praised the group’s efforts as “the Lord’s work.”

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