The World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday that the world is in “unchartered territory” on the coronavirus outbreak. The UK Government is today expected to announce a plan to combat the virus, including an effect on school, travel arrangements and sporting events.
Sporting events have already been affected heavily by the virus around the world. Major international events have already been cancelled, while domestic sport in a number of countries is also under threat.
But what has been done so far to stop the virus spreading through sport – and how are this summer’s events such as the Olympics and European Championships likely to be affected. This blog post explains.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus are a family of viruses, with seven different types affecting humans. The new coronavirus, known as Covid-19 is much more dangerous than the common cold despite displaying many of the same symptoms. Around 15-20% of hospital cases have been classed as “severe”.
Worldwide more than 90,000 people are known to be infected and more than 3,000 deaths have been recorded. The current death rate stands at about 2%.
What countries is the coronavirus affecting?
The virus originated in Hubai province in China, where the highest number of cases have been reported. Overall, 80,261 confirmed cases have been reported in Mainland China.
The first death outside of China was reported in the Philippines on 2 February. The largest number of deaths which have occurred outside of China are as follows:
- 66 in Iran
- 52 in Italy
- 28 in South Korea
- 12 in Japan
- 6 in the USA
- 3 in France
- And 1 each in the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan
How is the coronavirus affecting sporting events worldwide?
The coronavirus has affected sporting events in a range of different countries.
On 26 February, a decision was made to cancel men’s and women’s Six Nations matches between Italy and Ireland. These were due to take place on 7 and 8 March. However, no further postponements in this year’s competition are imminent.
In football, six matches in Italy’s Serie A were called off last week due to coronavirus, including Juventus vs Inter Milan. The league has called an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of the postponements on the fixture list The Italian Cup final was also postponed by a week.
In China, the league season was due to start on 22 February, however it is currently yet to begin. The Asian Champions League involving Chinese teams has been postponed until April. South Korea has also postponed the start of the league season, meanwhile Japan has halted its season. Games in Switzerland have also been suspended until 23 March.
International football has seen minimum disruption, with China’s World Cup qualifying games being moved to Thailand and played behind closed doors. The 2020-21 Nations League draw is due to take place today, however the Scottish FA have announced today that head coach, Steve Clark, will not attend.
The World Athletics Indoor Championship was due to take place in Nanjing, China in March, however this has been moved to 2021. Various marathons have been called off around the world: the Pyongyang Marathon in North Korea, Seoul Marathon in South Korea and the Paris half-marathon.
Badminton has called off the German Open, Vietnam Open and Polish Open, as well as all Olympic qualifying events. Olympic boxing qualifiers due to take place in Wuhan have been relocated to Amman from 3-11 March.
In cricket, England players on their tour of Sri Lanka will not shake hands and will use fist bumps instead.
Cycling had been in the spotlight after the UAE Tour. The final two stages of the tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. Riders and staff on the UAE Tour had been in lockdown since. Team GB Olympian Mark Cavendish, was among those put into lockdown in his hotel room.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on 19 April has been postponed with no decision yet made on whether the race will be reinstated into the 2020 calendar. The Australia Grand Prix will go ahead.
Various golf events around the world have been postponed, including the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, Maybank Championship and Volvo China Open.
In tennis, the final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy has been cancelled with both finalists receiving ranking points and prize money for reaching the final. China have also forfeited a Davis Cup tie this week, as the men’s team was unable to travel to Romania. Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador is set to be played behind closed doors.
MotoGP has cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. The first stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships in South Korea, and the World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi have been postponed.
What has been said about future sporting events?
The most notable event in the 2020 sporting calendar is the Summer Olympic Games. Concerns over this has been amplified due to it being held in Tokyo, with Japan being affected by the virus as well as being in close proximity to China.
One International Olympic Committee member has said that a decision on postponing or cancelling the games would have to be made by late May. However, with the games not due to start until August, they are hoping that by then the virus would be better contained. To find out more about the possible threat of the Olympics being cancelled, watch the video above.
In football, UEFA officials have held initial talks about the virus affecting Euro 2020. However they are determined not be rushed into a decision, with the opening game of the tournament between Turkey and Italy due to take place on 12 June. Unlike previous tournaments, Euro 2020 is due to take place across a number of nations – England, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Russia, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, The Netherlands and Romania.
With the international break coming up in March, England’s friendly against Italy is in doubt.
Despite being imminent, horse racings Cheltenham Festival is also under threat.
For a full list of fixture and event cancellations, click here.