Coronavirus: From the Six Nations to Serie A – here’s how sport has been affected so far

The coronavirus outbreak continues to have an impact on the sporting schedule as some of 2020’s biggest events come into view.

A range of sports have had to take action to prevent the spread of the virus, with postponements hitting the Six Nations, Formula One and Serie A among others.

With spectacles such as Euro 2020, the Olympics and golf’s majors on the horizon, here is a sport-by-sport look at the impact of the coronavirus.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines


Six Serie A games were postponed last weekend, as were the second legs of the Coppa Italia semi-finals midweek, and now top-flight fixtures in Italy will be played behind closed doors until 3 April.


Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin remains optimistic this summer’s Euro 2020 – which is scheduled to be held in 12 cities across the continent – will go ahead as planned. The Swiss Football League has been suspended until 23 March.

Pre-season matches at the International Champions Cup scheduled to take place in Asia have also been postponed, while Scotland boss Steve Clarke decided not to travel to the Nations League draw in Amsterdam as it was deemed “an unnecessary risk”. The PA news agency understands the Premier League has advised clubs to increase hygiene levels at stadiums and training grounds, cut down on non-essential visitors and keep face-to-face meetings to a minimum, while Scottish football’s coronavirus response group has told players and match officials not to shake hands before and after matches.

Olympics and Paralympics

The International Olympic Committee remains fully committed to staging the Tokyo 2020 Games as scheduled this summer, despite Japan’s Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto suggesting it could be postponed until later in the year. The British Olympic Association still plans to send a delegation of around 55 people to Tokyo this month for a “detailed operational recce”. But the Asia Sevens Invitational – which was due to double as a test event for rugby sevens at the Games – was postponed, as was a wheelchair rugby test event ahead of the Paralympics.

Rugby Union

Mako Vunipola’s participation for Saracens and England has been left unclear (Getty)

England’s final Six Nations match against Italy on 14 March has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus. Tournament organisers faced the option of playing the game behind closed doors at the Stadio Olimpico or delaying it until later in the year and have chosen the latter option. Italy’s away game against Ireland in Dublin – due to take place on 7 March – was already called off. It is hoped the England women and under-20 teams will have their final weekend fixtures moved from their current location in northern Italy.

England prop Mako Vunipola was ruled out of Saturday’s game with Wales as he was understood to be in self-isolation as a precaution having flown back from Tonga via Hong Kong, but his club Saracens said he was available to play for them in the Gallagher Premiership the same weekend.

Formula One

The FIA is monitoring the situation having already called off the Chinese Grand Prix. Organisers have insisted the opening two rounds of the Formula One season in Australia (15 March) and Bahrain (22 March) are scheduled to go ahead as planned. F1 personnel who have visited high-risk countries within 14 days of their arrival in the Gulf Kingdom will be subjected to an extensive screening process.


The opening race of the MotoGP season, the Grand Prix of Qatar due to take place from 6-8 March, was cancelled due to the travel restrictions imposed in the country. On Monday, the second race on this year’s calendar – the Thailand Grand Prix, scheduled for 22 March – was also postponed, with organisers evaluating when the event could go ahead.


Several events in Asia have already been postponed and Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli tested negative for the virus before being allowed to compete in last week’s Oman Open.

The Qatar Masters, which gets under way on Thursday, is going ahead as scheduled, but Italy’s Francesco Laporta was forced to pull out after being faced with two weeks’ quarantine due to travel restrictions imposed on passengers arriving in Doha on direct flights from Italy or those having been in Italy in the last two weeks.

The two-day Ladies Open at Yas Links Abu Dhabi was postponed two days before it was due to start. But Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley still expects the Masters to go ahead as planned next month. 

Lorenzo Gagli tested negative for the virus (Getty)


Fears of two cases of the coronavirus at the UAE Tour saw the race cancelled with two stages left and all riders, including Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, put under lockdown. Dane Michael Morkov had already left the race for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin, where he was confined to his hotel room, but he was freed to race after the two individuals at the heart of the UAE scare tested negative. Mitchelton-Scott and Team INEOS decided to withdraw its teams from all racing until the Volta a Catalunya on 23 March.


A number of ATP Challenger Tour events scheduled to take place in China in March and April have been cancelled, while the final of the Challenger in Bergamo, Italy, last month was also called off. The Davis Cup qualifier between Japan and Ecuador in Miki on 6-7 March will be played behind closed doors, while China have withdrawn from their Davis Cup World Group I play-off against Romania on the same dates. The WTA announced that the Xi’an Open (13-10 April) and Kunming Open (27 April – 3 May) – both set to be held in China – were cancelled, but, as things stand, were proceeding with the remainder of the season as planned.


The World Indoor Championships, which had been due to take place in Nanjing in China this month, have been called off. The Hong Kong Marathon – scheduled for 8 February – was also cancelled. Organisers of the London Marathon have confirmed they are monitoring the situation but the 26 April event is scheduled to go ahead.


The Ireland boxing squad cut short a pre-Olympic qualifier training camp in Italy as a precautionary measure last week. Meanwhile, all boxing shows scheduled for March in Japan have been cancelled.


The Badminton World Federation has not yet made any adjustments to its Olympic qualification rules despite the cancellation of some tournaments in which ranking points were available. The German Open (3-8 March), Polish Open (26-29 March) and Vietnam International Challenge (24-29 March) have been postponed or cancelled after the China Masters (25 February 25 – 1 March) was called off last month. The BWF has said not enough tournaments have yet been hit for changes to be made.


Snooker is among the sports affeted by the outbreak (Getty)

The £1 million China Open, scheduled to start in Beijing at the end of March, has been cancelled.

Ice Skating

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, scheduled to take place in Seoul this month, have been called off.


The World Triathlon Series event scheduled for 5-7 March in Abu Dhabi was delayed. Event organisers said they hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April.


Yanqing was set to host a round of the FIS World Cup over 15-16 February, but the event was cancelled by the governing body amid the growing concerns. The World Cup finals, which are scheduled to take place in northern Italy this month, will reportedly be staged without any fans in attendance.


Czech authorities confirmed on Monday afternoon that this week’s World Biathlon Cup in South Moravia would be closed to spectators.


The Professional Darts Corporation said it currently has no plans to cancel any events, but has told players they can avoid shaking hands with their opponents while fans have been warned it “may be more difficult to obtain autographs or pictures with players”.


Read More