Football, golf, and motor-racing fixtures have all been canceled due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. With more countries restricting large gatherings, what’s next on the chopping block?
Formula One announced the cancellation of Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, after a McLaren mechanic tested positive for the Covid-19 (coronavirus). The Grand Prix is the latest of many sporting fixtures axed in recent weeks, as more than 145,000 cases of the deadly coronavirus have been reported worldwide, causing more than 5,400 deaths.
In the UK, the Premier League is set to convene an emergency meeting following the postponement of Arsenal’s match against Brighton on Saturday. UEFA has also suspended all Champions League and Europa League matches. Five European golf tournaments have been canceled, all Six Nations rugby games have been dropped, and MotoGP races postponed. Across the Atlantic, the NBA, NHL, MLS have all suspended games, and the ATP tennis tour has been scrapped.
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As more events in the busy 2020 calendar fall by the wayside, here’s what’ll likely be canceled in the coming days.
Football’s European Championship is due to kick off in 12 European cities in June. However, the championship’s governing body, UEFA, has scheduled a crisis meeting on Tuesday to decide the tournament’s fate.
The prognosis is not good. Qualifying matches – which run until late March – have already been canceled, and UEFA has already suspended all of its Champions League and Europa League matches next week. As such, Euro 2020 will in all likelihood be pushed back a year.
This year’s tournament is due to be held in multiple countries to mark its 60th anniversary. As every one of these countries – including Italy – have implemented containment measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, running the competition as normal would be a logistical – not to mention a public health – nightmare.
Chance of cancellation: 99%, football’s not coming home
Since the virus spread to Japan in late January, speculation has mounted that Covid-19 could lead to the cancellation of the first modern Olympic Games since World War II. More than 700 cases have been confirmed in Japan, in addition to near another 700 instances aboard the ‘Diamond Princess,’ the cruise ship in quarantine at Yokohama. 16 people on the ship and on the Japanese mainland have died.
Yet the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government are adamant that the summer games will proceed as normal in July. Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said on Friday that the games will “absolutely not” be canceled, a day after US President Donald Trump suggested they be pushed back a year.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Trump on Thursday night that his country is doing all it can to hold the games as planned.
Just had a great conversation with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. I told him that the just completed Olympic venue is magnificent. He has done an incredible job, one that will make him very proud. Good things will happen for Japan and their great Prime Minister. Lots of options!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
A cancellation would hammer the Japanese economy, and the IOC seems determined to let the games play out in front of empty grandstands if necessary. However, tightening travel restrictions worldwide could see athletes unable to even reach Japan in the first place. As such, circumstances beyond the IOC’s control could force the organization’s hand.
Chance of cancellation: 90 percent, an Olympian task not to
This year’s festival season is shaping up to be a dull one too, with a number of major music events already affected. In the US, the Coachella festival, beloved of hipsters and the moneyed ‘influencer’ class, has been pushed back to October, while Texas’ SXSW has been canceled for the first time in 34 years.
While Glastonbury’s organizers say they are “closely monitoring” the spread of the coronavirus, they revealed more than 90 performers on Thursday night. However, the festival is due to kick off in late June, right when Downing Street’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance predicts the virus will reach its peak in the UK.
Vallance has taken criticism for suggesting that upwards of 60 percent of Britons may need to catch the virus to build “herd immunity” against it. If his stark prediction plays out, the festival-going public may simply be too sick to party come June, even in the unlikely event that the government continues to allow public gatherings.
Chance of cancellation: 70 percent, if Boris Johnson doesn’t find his groove
Though the crowd at Nevada’s Burning Man might look like extras from a Mad Max-esque hellscape, organizers of the counter-cultural event are keeping a close eye on the real-life pandemic playing out in the US. According to a statement from the Burning Man Project, the team is “closely monitoring” the coronavirus situation, yet expects the event to “take place as planned” in late August.
Returning for the second year, the call for Civic Design Plazas asks participants to create imagined space-station landing sites and teleportation lift-off platforms for Black Rock City citizens who travel through the Multiverse. https://t.co/s9vTRfedtJ
— Burning Man Project (@burningman) March 13, 2020
Nevada has seen more than 10 cases of Covid-19, prompting Governor Steve Sisolak to declare a state of emergency on Thursday. If the Silver State contains the spread of the virus, or if the worst has been and gone by August, festival goers may get to feel the burn after all.
Chance of cancellation: 50 percent, a flicker of hope
Churchill Downs Incorporated is still deliberating on whether to hold the annual Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Though the racecourse has canceled all remaining races this month, it said on Thursday that preparations to host the 146th Kentucky Derby “are still moving forward.” However, the statement added that a final decision will be made closer to the date.
Perhaps the organizers will factor in the sheer amount of money the Derby generates every year. Derby day nets the track roughly $180 million every year, while bookmakers took in a whopping $250 million last year.
Chance of cancellation: A dead heat, don’t bet on it
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