Olympics more likely to be cancelled than postponed over coronavirus concerns, top IOC official says
With more than 60 countries now impacted by coronavirus, a growing number of business, cultural and sporting events around the world have been called off.
Some have been rescheduled, but many have been cancelled, as fears about international travel grow.
The reluctance to go far beyond the safety and comfort of home is understandable.
Why put yourself at risk for non-essential activities overseas, like a business conference, cultural festival or international football match?
Horse racing at Hanshin Racecourse was one of the Japanese sports events held behind closed doors due to COVID-19 fears. (Reuters: Kyodo)
COVID-19 threatens to throw the 2020 sporting calendar into disarray, in a year that football’s UEFA Euro 2020 is due to be held in 12 European countries in June and July, and with the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for July and August.
Japan is taking extensive measures to prevent the spread of the virus by holding some key sporting events at empty stadiums.
Six pre-season baseball games were held with no spectators in the stands, while the Japan Race Association took the drastic step of staging meetings at empty racecourses.
Already, Japan’s J-League announced last week that all 94 football matches scheduled to run through March 15 would be postponed.
@MotoGP: Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions, the #MotoGP class is cancelled for the #QatarGP
On Monday, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, scheduled for March 8, was cancelled by the international motorcycling federation, due to travel restrictions the Gulf country had imposed on passengers from Italy.
The second MotoGP race of the season, which was scheduled to be held in Thailand on March 22, has also been postponed indefinitely, the Thai Deputy Prime Minister said on Monday.
According to health officials, Italy is the European epicentre of coronavirus.
A total of nine Serie A matches over two weekends have been postponed since the Coronavirus outbreak. (AP: Antonio Calanni)
The nation saw the postponement of five more Serie A matches last weekend, including champions Juventus’ game at home to Inter Milan. All were rescheduled for May 13.
This followed four games being called off the previous weekend. Most of the postponements were in the northern part of Italy.
Tourists were left disappointed on Sunday when the Louvre in Paris was closed. (Reuters: Gonzalo Fuentes)
The Venice Carnival, which was due to run until February 25, was cut short three days early in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
And the iconic Louvre in Paris closed to the public on Sunday after workers refused to open the museum over fears that visitors could infect staff with the coronavirus.
Here’s an overview of some of the key events already called-off due to COVID-19:
Facebook cancelled its global marketing summit scheduled for next month in San Francisco due to coronavirus-related risks.
The event, scheduled for March 9 to March 12 was expected to see over 4,000 participants.
The tech giant also cancelled its annual F8 developers conference, which was scheduled to take place in May in California.
The world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.
The event is held annually in Barcelona.
But business conferences aren’t the only things to be hit by the virus.
Shanghai fashion week was originally postponed but organisers have found a way to adapt.
People can participate by watching livestreams of the runway shows and bid online.
“We hope this new form will allow designers to try different ways to display their design and different channels to market and sell,” the vice secretary of Shanghai Fashion Week Committee, Lu Xiaolei, told industry publication Business of Fashion.
Donald Trump will not be meeting with ASEAN leaders in the US amid coronavirus fears. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)
The United States postponed a summit for leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
President Donald Trump had invited leaders of the 10-member ASEAN to meet in Las Vegas after he did not attend a summit with the group in Bangkok in November.
China made the decision to postpone it’s annual meeting of parliament originally scheduled to start on March 5, state TV reported on Monday.
The gatherings traditionally see more than 5,000 delegates descend on Beijing from all over China for at least 10 days, to pass legislation and unveil the year’s key economic targets.
CNN reported the Dalai Lama had cancelled all his public engagements for now until further notice because of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia has suspended arrivals by foreign pilgrims and tourists from some two dozen countries where the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread.
The decision comes ahead of the holy fasting of Ramadan, which begins in late April, when visits by Muslims to the kingdom accelerate.
More than 7.5 million people performed the minor Umrah pilgrimage — which can be taken at any time of year — in the birthplace of Islam throughout 2019, according to official figures.
Meanwhile, multiple major concerts and tours have been cancelled.
British rapper Stormzy postponed concerts in Japan, China, and South Korea as part of his world tour.
Green Day postponed concerts in Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.
Korean boy band BTS cancelled four concerts set to take place in Seoul.
And R&B singer Khalid cancelled his tour dates for Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai and Bangalore.
It’s not yet clear whether the 2020 Olympic Games will be cancelled. (Reuters: Athit Perawongmetha)
While there has been speculation that the global spread of the coronavirus that might force the cancellation of the Olympic games, Japanese officials have said they are confident the Games will go ahead.
However, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee says that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer, organisers are more likely to cancel it altogether than postpone or move it.
But the outbreak has already affected qualifying matches.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation said on Monday it postponed its final qualification tournament for the Tokyo Olympics to June because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Baseball is returning to the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.
The final two stages of the UAE Tour cycling event, which featured some of the world’s leading riders, was cancelled due to two Italian participants testing positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Irish Rugby Football Union postponed the country’s Six Nations fixture against Italy due to the virus outbreak in northern Italy. The game was scheduled to take place in Dublin on March 7.
In archery, the World Cup that was set to take place in May has been cancelled.
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