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How coronavirus is affecting sport: Olympics, Premier League, Euro 2020 and other events

Euro 2020

  • Status: uncertain, discussions due this week

Uefa will consider moving Euro 2020 to December in a bid to allow the Premier League and other club competitions to catch up this summer following the unprecedented sporting chaos caused by coronavirus.

Radical proposals will be debated on Tuesday after Britain’s sporting landscape was decimated over the past 48 hours,  With the whole of Europe now in sporting lockdown, sources say the Uefa emergency meeting will discuss moving the international tournament as well as potentially the Champions League and Europa League. 

While the summer of 2021 is free of major men’s tournaments, the possibility of playing the international tournament later this year will also be raised for discussion amongst Uefa’s 55 member associations.

Mike McGrath

Football

  • Status: All major league football  

Top-level football competitions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been suspended in an unprecedented peacetime move.

The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed on Friday to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect until early April.

The Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League issued a joint statement saying all football in that country was being suspended until further notice. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the domestic and grassroots season has been put on hold until April 4 at the earliest.

Organisers of domestic football competitions will keep their plans under constant review as the spread of the virus develops. Friday’s suspension of competition followed positive tests for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi, with other clubs reporting members of their playing and coaching staff were self-isolating as a precaution after experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid-19. 

The FA also cancelled England’s international friendlies against Italy and Denmark later this month, while the Football Association of Wales called off the match against Austria on March 27.

 All domestic sporting action in Italy – including Serie A matches – was suspended until April 3. Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, the top two divisions in France, are suspended until further notice, the German Football League confirmed games in the top two divisions had been cancelled from this weekend and will recommend a continued suspension until April 2 and Major League Soccer announced the suspension of matches for 30 days with immediate effect.

On Friday morning UEFA announced all of next week’s Champions League and Europa League ties had been postponed.

Rugby 

  • Status: Top 14 and Pro 14 suspended, Premiership Rugby expected to follow

The final scheduled Six Nations rugby union match, Wales v Scotland, was belatedly postponed on Friday while the Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale and Harlequins was also postponed after an associated individual developed symptoms consistent with the virus.

Sanzaar, the governing body behind Super Rugby, announced that the competition will be suspended “for the foreseeable future” while Premiership Rugby is expected to announce on Monday that all league matches will be postponed for at least four weeks, allowing for at least the next two rounds of matches to be suspended.

This follows Guinness PRO14 organisers announcing on Thursday that the season suspended in response to the outbreak.

Rugby Australia has closed its Sydney headquarters for an “intensive clean” after two members of its Australian Sevens program showed signs and symptoms associated with coronavirus.

Rugby league activity in Wales has been suspended until the end of March and the Betfred Super League match between Catalans Dragons and Leeds in Perpignan on Saturday was postponed after one of the Rhinos’ players was put into self-isolation after showing symptoms of coronavirus.

London Marathon

  • Status: cancelled and rescheduled for October 4

The London Marathon was postponed until October on Friday night as organisers finally gave up hope that it might avoid the coronavirus crisis.

Officials behind the 40th edition of the race had wanted to leave any cancellation until the 11th hour, but were forced to shelve April 26 after the cancellations of the Paris and Boston Marathons.

The Manchester Marathon has also been delayed and British Athletics announced it would organise a separate marathon to act as a trial ahead Tokyo 2020, which is still pencilled in for July.

London Marathon director Hugh Brasher expressed sympathy to the thousands of runners who had been in training, but said the event will now be held on October 4.

“The world is in an unprecedented situation, grappling with a global pandemic of Covid-19 and public health is everyone’s priority,” he added. “We know how disappointing this news will be for so many – the runners who have trained for many months, the thousands of charities for which they are raising funds and the millions who watch the race every year. 

Tom Morgan

Formula 1 and Formula E

  • Status: Australia GP cancelled, Bahrain, Vietnam and China postponed; Dutch GP at risk

The Dutch Grand Prix will be the next race pulled from Formula One’s coronavirus-hit schedule.

There were conflicting messages as to when the new season might start after the curtain-raiser here in Australia was cancelled, with subsequent races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China postponed.

F1’s governing body, the FIA, issued a statement to indicate the campaign could get under way at the beginning of May – in time for the race in Holland. F1, however, said the end of May is now the target. And the PA news agency understands that the Dutch round, scheduled for May 3 will be postponed. Official confirmation is expected at the start of next week.

It is hoped that the Zandvoort race, which returns to the calendar after an absence of 35 years, could be moved to August, with the sport’s traditional summer break scrapped.

The Spanish Grand Prix, due to take place a week after the race in Holland on May 10 is also set to be called off. It is unclear whether it will be rescheduled.

The majority view of the sport’s travelling circus is to delay the campaign until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, pencilled in for June 7, at the earliest, with the possibility of as many as 18 races crammed into six months. However, the situation remains fluid with huge uncertainty around the long-term impact of coronavirus.

Formula E has temporarily suspended its season.

PA

Cycling

  • Status: Giro d’Italia, Milan-Sanremo and Tour of Catalonia postponed

Both men’s and women’s cycling has been plunged into crisis with scores of races being either postponed or cancelled as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were felt far and wide.

The biggest casualty is the Giro d’Italia, the first grand tour of the season, which was postponed on March 13 with organisers saying they would announce new dates for the three-week race that was due to start in Budapest, Hungary, on May 9 no earlier than April 3.

Earlier in the month, a swathe of Italian races from both the men’s and women’s calendars – Strade Bianche (March 7), GP Industria & Artigianto (March 8), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17), Milan-Sanremo (March 21), Trofeo Alfredo Binda (March 22), Settimana Coppi e Bartali (March 25) and the Tour of Sicily (April 1-4) – were postponed.

In Spain the 100th edition of the Tour of Catalonia (Volta Ciclista a Catalunya) which was due to be raced between March 23-29 has also been postponed until a later, as yet undecided, date.

Cricket

England’s tour to Sri Lanka was called off on Friday and the England & Wales Cricket Board began planning to cut this summer’s schedule as contingency arrangements for the coronavirus were firmed up.

The decision to call off the tour was made at the request of the ECB, not Sri Lankan Cricket, over fears the players could be trapped in Sri Lanka in quarantine if the virus spreads on the island. The squad will return home on Saturday. 

The annual Champion County match, regarded as the curtain-raiser to the domestic season, due to be played between the MCC and Essex between March 24-27 at Galle was called off, as was the MCC World Cricket Committee meeting in Colombo scheduled for March 28 and 29.

County teams on pre-season tours are also due to return home this weekend after discussions between the ECB and Professional Cricketers’ Association. Northamptonshire ignored the advice and announced they are continuing their tour to Singapore.

The ECB has stepped up contingency planning for fixtures being cancelled this summer. The county championship begins on April 12 and the first Test against West Indies at the Oval on June 4, the predicted height of the Coronavirus outbreak in England. 

The start of the Indian Premier League was postponed from March 29 to April 15 as a precautionary measure.

The final two one-day internationals between India and South Africa will be rescheduled following an agreement between the countries’ governing bodies, while the remaining two ODIs between Australia and New Zealand have been called off.

Athletics

  • Status: Paris and Boston Marathon off, World Indoor Championships cancelled

The Paris marathon has been postponed from April 5 to Oct. 18 due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers said on Thursday. The Boston Marathon, which was due to take place on April 20, has aso been put back to September 14 

The World Indoor Championships, which had been due to take place in Nanjing in China this month, have been called off, while the Hong Kong Marathon – scheduled for February 8 – was also cancelled.

Golf

  • Status: Masters posponed, cancelled tournaments in Asia

The prospect of the Masters being hosted in September and playing havoc with the staging of the Ryder Cup has come into stark focus with the news that the season’s first major has been postponed from its traditional April date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of The Players Championship being cancelled after Thursday’s first round, Augusta was quick to release a statement announcing that its showpiece event would not take place in four weeks time. 

With the next three PGA Tour events also off, it means that there is no top-flight male golf due for five weeks. And it is highly doubtful if it even returns then. With the new condensed season featuring the USPGA in May, the US Open in June and the Open Championship in July, the schedule is already in deep turmoil, with all three of the major organisers understandably desperate not to skip a year. 

The Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen have both been postponed because of the outbreak.

The PGA Tour Series-China confirmed two qualifying tournaments scheduled for Bintan, Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand have been postponed. The knock-on impact means the four opening competitions – the Sanya Championship (March 23-29), the Haikou Classic (March 30-April 5), the Chongqing Championship (April 6-12) and the Guangzhou Open (April 13-19) – will now not go ahead as originally planned.

The HSBC Women’s World Championships was set for Singapore at the end of February, but along with the Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya, have both been called off. The Blue Bay LPGA, scheduled for the start of March on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, will now also not take place due to continued health concerns in the region.

Tennis

  • Status: Indian Wells cancelled; ATP four suspended for six weeks. Fears for Wimbledon

The high-profile BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, where the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were due to compete, was called off and the ATP announced a six-week suspension of the men’s professional tennis tour due to “escalating health and safety issues”.

The Miami Open tennis tournament, due to start on March 23, was cancelled after a ban on mass gatherings in Miami-Dade County. The Volvo Car Open in Charleston (April 4-12) was also been called off. Next month’s Fed Cup finals in Budapest and Fed Cup play-offs, due to be held in eight different locations, were postponed, while China’s Xi’an Open (April 13-19) and Kunming Open (April 27-May 3) were cancelled.

Indian Wells is the first Premier Mandatory event of the WTA season and is a Masters 1000 event on the men’s tour.

Tournament Director Tommy Haas said: “We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance.

“We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”

David Agus, Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, said: “There is too great a risk, at this time, to the public health of the Riverside County area in holding a large gathering of this size.

“It is not in the public interest of fans, players and neighbouring areas for this tournament to proceed. We all have to join together to protect the community from the coronavirus outbreak.”

Nadal wrote on Twitter: “You probably all heard the news. Indian Wells cancelled.

“We are here and still deciding what’s next. So sad for all that is happening around the world with this situation.

“Hopefully soon solutions from the authorities. Stay all well and safe.”

Elsewhere:

Motorcycling

The opening four races of the MotoGP season in Qatar, Thailand, the United States and Argentina were called off. The Qatar race was cancelled, while the other three have been moved to later in the season, which is now due to get under way in Spain on May 3.

Basketball

The NBA announced that it will suspend the season after Wednesday night’s games until further notice as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came shortly after a game between the Utah Jazz and host Oklahoma City Thunder was called off moments before tipoff.

According to the NBA, a player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for coronavirus – COVID-19. The NBA stated the affected player was not in the arena at the time.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the player in question is Utah centre Rudy Gobert, and that players from the Jazz and Thunder are being quarantined in Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

At the time of the announcement, the Dallas Mavericks’ home game against the Denver Nuggets was midway through the third quarter.

Two other games – the New York Knicks at the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets at the Miami Heat – were late in the fourth quarter.

All three games will be allowed to finish before the suspension goes into effect.

The New Orleans Pelicans were also scheduled to play at the Sacramento Kings for a 10.30pm ET tipoff, but there was no word if that game would be suspended.

Reuters

Boxing

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.

Badminton

Seven Indian badminton players have pulled out of the All England Open championships over coronavirus fears, the Badminton Association of India said, as the outbreak continues to disrupt sport events across the world.

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 (March 3-8), Polish Open (March 26-29) and Vietnam International Challenge (March 24-29) have been postponed or cancelled after the China Masters (February 25-March 1) was called off last month. The BWF has said not enough tournaments have yet been hit for changes to be made.

Ice Skating

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

Racing

Racing in Ireland will be closed to the public until March 29.

Snooker

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

Triathlon

The International Triathlon Union moved the 2020 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, planned for May 2, from Milan to Montreal. It later announced that all activities would be suspended until April 30.

Skiing

The Alpine skiing World Cup finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo have been cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Italian winter sports federation (FISI) said.

“It’s with great regret that I took this decision,” said FISI president Flavio Roda after every nation but Italy voted against holding the March 18-22 finals at an International Skiing Federation (FIS) emergency meeting.

“But every member of the council motivated their decision to cancel the finals.”

 All French ski resorts are closing on Sunday and will not reopen for the rest of the season as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, ski resort operators said. Last week saw the closure of resorts in Italy, which is now in lockdown, as well as Austria, where a cluster of cases forced resorts such as Ischgl and St Anton into quarantine, and Switzerland, which also announced it was closing resorts. Resorts in Andorra and Norway are also shut. 

Sumo wrestling

Japan’s sumo wrestlers faced off for the spring grand tournament on Sunday in front of empty seats in Osaka, western Japan, with fans asked to stay away to help limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku said it would be difficult for wrestlers to prepare mentally for the tournament without spectators but that they would nevertheless compete to the utmost of their ability during matches.

“All of the wrestlers will hear fans cheering in their hearts and do their best to meet expectations,” he said.

Biathlon

Czech authorities confirmed on Monday afternoon that theWorld Biathlon Cup in South Moravia would be closed to spectators.

Darts

The Professional Darts Corporation cancelled the Premier League double-header in Rotterdam, the European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen and the European Darts Open in Leverkusen, which were all scheduled for later this month, plus next month’s German Darts Grand Prix in Munich. 

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