Sport

How the coronavirus has hit global sport

Formula One group CEO Chase Carey, Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Paul Little, Race director Michael Masi and Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott during a press conference after it was announced the Australian Grand Prix would be cancelled after a McLaren team member tested positive for coronavirus REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy

AFP looks at the effects on the sport of the coronavirus, which by Thursday had killed over 4,600 people while infecting more than 127,000 in 115 countries and territories.

FOOTBALL

– Arsenal’s match at Brighton & Hove Albion was postponed early on Friday after Gunners manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19.

— The Premier League announced it was holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the fate of future fixtures.

— Spanish club Real Madrid’s players were put in quarantine as La Liga announced Spain’s top two divisions will be suspended for at least two weeks.

A member of Real’s basketball squad tested positive for the virus leading to its senior football team being put in quarantine.

— UEFA will hold a crisis meeting next Tuesday with representatives from all 55 national associations and club and player bodies about Euro 2020 and the ongoing Champions League and Europa League.

— In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 1,016 deaths from COVID-19, all sporting events including Serie A have been suspended until April 3.

— On Wednesday Juventus defender Daniele Rugani became the first Serie A footballer to test positive with Sampdoria forward Manolo Gabbiadini announcing that he had contracted the virus on Thursday.

— The second leg of Juve’s Champions League last 16 tie with Lyon was postponed on Wednesday, as was Manchester City v Real Madrid.

— Barcelona v Napoli and Bayern Munich v Chelsea will be played behind closed doors.

— France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 will have no fans for at least the next two weeks.

— Arsenal players have been put in quarantine after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who tested positive.

— German Bundesliga teams have begun to close their stadiums to fans, with this weekend’s matches set to be played in front of empty stands.

— The Netherlands’ Eredivisie has been suspended until March 31.

— Three UEFA Europa League games on Thursday including Manchester United away to LASK Linz had no fans, while the ties between Inter Milan and Getafe and Roma and Sevilla were postponed.

— The Netherlands’ friendly against Spain set for March 29 cancelled. The United States has called off friendlies against the Dutch on March 26 and Wales (March 30).

— International friendlies to be played behind closed doors include France v Ukraine and Germany v Italy.

— The start of Japan’s J-League was postponed till mid-March while China suspended all domestic football and shelved indefinitely the top-flight Super League season.

— The French League Cup final between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon has been called off, with no new date yet fixed, as has the Spanish Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.

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— A Euro 2020 warm-up tournament in Qatar featuring Portugal, Belgium, Croatia and Switzerland, has been cancelled.

— South American World Cup qualifiers have been postponed, as was the next round of the Copa Libertadores.

— The FIFA Congress, due to take place in Addis Ababa on June 5, was pushed back to September 18.

TENNIS

— The ATP has suspended its tour for six weeks “due to escalating health and safety issues”.

— The ATP and WTA Miami Open was called off after Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez declared a state of emergency over the outbreak.

— The prestigious ATP and WTA Indian Wells tournament was cancelled, the first major sports event in the US to be shelved because of the outbreak.

— The inaugural Fed Cup Finals scheduled for next month in Budapest were postponed.

RUGBY UNION

— The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on Saturday as well as the Ireland v Italy duel in Dublin on March 7 were postponed.

— Title challengers France’s final game against Ireland, also scheduled for Saturday, was also put off until October.

— Sevens World Series tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend will now be played in October.

MOTORSPORT

— Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off early on Friday.

— Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix on March 20-22 will be held without spectators.

— The Chinese Grand Prix, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, has been postponed.

— In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP was cancelled, along with the Thailand MotoGP on March 22 (postponed until October 4). On Tuesday the Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin was rescheduled from April to November, while the MotoGP race in Argentina was also put on hold.

— Formula E indefinitely postponed the Rome E-Prix, which was due to be held on April 4.

BASKETBALL

— NBA suspended the season after Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the new coronavirus. ESPN reported that his teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry have called on the league to cancel the season after a “rough” 2020.

— NCAA ‘March Madness’ to also be closed to the general public.

CYCLING

— The spring classic Milan-San Remo, scheduled for March 21, was postponed, having only previously been cancelled three times since the inaugural edition in 1907.

— The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set for last Saturday, was also cancelled along with the multi-day Tirreno-Adriatico.

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— This month’s Tour of Catalonia has been postponed, organisers announced on Thursday.

TOKYO OLYMPICS

— World Athletics Sebastian Coe said the 2020 Tokyo Games will go ahead.

Tokyo city governor Yuriko Koike said cancelling the Olympics is “unthinkable”.

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.

— US President Donald Trump suggested the Olympics could be postponed for a year. “I like that better than I like having empty stadiums,” he said.

— Spectators were absent as the Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia.

GOLF

— Fans will be banned from attending PGA Tour events unril after next month’s Texas Open, commissioner Jay Monahan said Thursday.

— European Tour chiefs postponed the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the China Open in Shenzhen — both set for April.

— The US LPGA Tour cancelled all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia, and also its next three events in the United States.

— The Indian Open in New Delhi, set for March 19-22, was postponed on Wednesday.

CRICKET

— India’s IPL which starts on March 29 could be played behind closed doors an official told AFP, with the Indian government later advising it should be stopped.

— The final two one day internationals between India and South Africa will be held without spectators.

— Pakistan cricket authorities announced plans to close public access to a series of upcoming domestic league matches in Karachi.

ATHLETICS

— The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed until next year.

— The Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered runners, was postponed until October 18.

— The Barcelona Marathon, which was scheduled for March 15 with 17,000 runners, was postponed until October.

ALPINE SKIING

— Norway’s Aleksander Kilde won alpine skiing’s men’s World Cup title after the final races of the season at Kranjska Gora at the weekend were scrapped due to the coronavirus threat

— The World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy between March 16-22, were cancelled.

— This weekend’s three women’s races in Are were scrapped, crowning Federica Brignone as the overall champion.

FIGURE SKATING

— World Championships, scheduled for Montreal next week, were cancelled.

BASEBALL

— Japan’s domestic baseball season, originally set to open on March 10, was postponed.

ICE HOCKEY

— The NHL commissioner Gary Bettman halted the competition on Thursday three weeks before the scheduled conclusion of the 2019-20 regular season.

— The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, set for Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia for March 31 to April 10, were cancelled.

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Sport

How coronavirus has hit global sport

Five Italian Serie-A weekend matches including Sunday’s clash between Juventus and Inter Milan have been postponed due to the novel Coronavirus, the Italian football league said Saturday.

The Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England was postponed on Thursday, the latest high-profile sports event to be scratched from the international calendar due to the global spread of the deadly coronavirus.

AFP Sport looks at the effects on sport of the virus, which has killed more than 3,200 people while infecting 95,000 in more than 80 countries worldwide.

TOKYO OLYMPICS

– International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Wednesday that the nightmare scenario of either cancelling or postponing this year’s Tokyo Olympics was not discussed at a key meeting.

“Neither the word cancellation nor postponement was mentioned today during the Executive Board meeting,” Bach told reporters in Lausanne on Wednesday.

“I will not add fuel to the flames of speculation. We are fully committed to the success of the Tokyo Games.”

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.

FOOTBALL

– In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 148 deaths from COVID-19, it was announced that all matches – as well as all major sports events – will be played behind closed doors until April 3.

This week’s Italian Cup semi-finals were postponed to a date to be arranged while a number of Serie A league games were cancelled. Five of those called off last week will now be played this weekend, including Juventus v Inter Milan.

– Elsewhere, the start of Japan’s J-League was postponed till mid-March while China suspended all domestic football and shelved indefinitely the top-flight Super League season which was due to kick off on February 22.

– The Swiss league has already suspended all Super League and second-division Challenge League matches until March 23.

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– The Valencia v Atalanta Champions League clash on March 10 will be played behind closed doors as will the Europa League tie featuring Inter Milan against Getafe on March 12.

– English Premier League players and officials will not take part in the traditional pre-match handshake from this weekend. Teams have been told that they will still line up as usual before kick-off, but the home team will walk past the away side without shaking hands.

– FIFA and Asia’s football governing bodies are considering postponing upcoming 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers on March 26 and 31.

RUGBY UNION

– The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on March 14 as well as this Saturday’s Ireland v Italy duel in Dublin have been cancelled.

– Sevens World Series tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend were postponed.

CRICKET

– Nepal’s Everest Premier League, scheduled to begin on March 14, has also been called off. The fourth edition of the Twenty20 league had signed West Indies batting star Chris Gayle, with Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad and Sri Lankan batsman Upul Tharanga also due to take part.

MOTOR RACING

– The Chinese Formula One Grand Prix, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, was axed as was the March 21 Formula E race slated for Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan.

– In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, set for Sunday, and the Thailand MotoGP have also been scratched. The Thai race has, however, been rearranged for October 4.

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GOLF

– European Tour chiefs postponed the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the China Open in Shenzhen – both set for April.

– The US LPGA Tour cancelled all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia with a combined prize purse of more than $5 million.

CYCLING

– The UAE Tour’s last two stages were abandoned with riders and teams subsequently quarantined in their Abu Dhabi hotels. The Gulf state announced six coronavirus cases linked to the event – two Russians, two Italians, one German and a Colombian.

– The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set for Saturday, was cancelled Thursday while teams such as Mitchelton, Ineos and Astana have pulled out of Sunday’s Paris-Nice.

TENNIS

– Friday and Saturday’s Davis Cup qualifiers between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari and Japan against Ecuador in Miki will be played behind closed doors.

BASKETBALL

– The launch of the inaugural Basketball Africa League has been postponed. The NBA-backed 12-team league had been due to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal.

ATHLETICS

– The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed for a year.

– The Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered runners, postponed until October 18.

SNOOKER

– The flagship China Open snooker tournament, scheduled to be held between March 30 and April 5, was called off in late January.

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