The Impact of the Coronavirus on Sports


With the death toll from the coronavirus surpassing 3,000 worldwide, the ramifications have spread to nearly every aspect of life, with sports no exception. Events major and minor have been canceled, moved or postponed, as athletes, officials and spectators worry about the spread of the virus.

Here’s a look at where things stand with sports as of Monday morning:

The Summer Games, colossal and involving international travel by tens of thousands of athletes, officials, news media members and spectators, have naturally been one of the biggest concerns in the wake of the virus. This has been amplified because it is scheduled for July and August in Tokyo, in proximity to China.

For now, it’s all systems go for the Games, officials say. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said officials were fully committed to the success of the Olympic Games.

One member of the I.O.C., Dick Pound of Canada, said that a decision would have to be made by late May and that canceling the Games was more likely than postponing or moving them. But organizers of the Games and the committee pushed back on that, saying preparations were continuing, and that they would include countermeasures against the spread of the virus, if necessary.

The biggest advantage the Olympics seem to have is time, as many health officials are hopeful that the virus will be better contained by the summer.

Italy postponed five top-flight league games scheduled over the weekend until May 13. The Italian Cup final was also postponed for a week. Inter Milan’s chief executive, Giuseppe Marotta, said the season may not be able to be completed. In the north of the country, where the outbreak is more severe, the government said matches must be played without fans until Sunday, affecting potentially five games. Switzerland suspended its league until March 23 after clubs refused to play to empty stands.

In China, the league season was to have started Feb. 22, but has not yet begun. Asian Champions League games involving Chinese teams have been postponed until April.

South Korea has postponed the start of its league season, and Japan played one round of league games in late February before halting its season.

Officials at UEFA, Europe’s soccer federation, said they were concerned about the coronavirus with the approach of Euro 2020, scheduled at multiple European sites beginning in June. For now, no action has been taken.

China’s World Cup qualifying games this month will be moved to Thailand and be played without fans.

Major League Baseball is in a wait-and-see mode as spring training games begin in Florida and Arizona.

In Japan, preseason games are being played in empty stadiums, and discussion continues about the fate of the start of the season, scheduled for March 20.

Weeks before its men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments, which are held at sites across the country, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said it was monitoring the virus and coordinating with federal, state and local health officials.

Brian Hainline, the association’s chief medical officer, wrote in an email to colleagues last month that N.C.A.A. staff members would “add appropriate safeguards” as proper, “as they would with any public health crisis.”

Over the weekend, Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the National College Players Association, urged “a serious discussion” about holding athletic events without spectators. Huma also said that colleges and the N.C.A.A. should cancel events that force players to be in close contact with the public, including meet-and-greet opportunities and news conferences.

A women’s tour event scheduled for Xi’an, China, in April was canceled. China forfeited in the Davis Cup rather than travel to Romania for a match on Friday.

The world indoor track and field championships, scheduled to be held in Nanjing, China, March 13 to 15, have been postponed by a year. The world team table tennis championships in Busan, South Korea, this month have been pushed back to June. The world short-track speedskating championships this month in Seoul have been postponed and will be held in October at the earliest, if they are held at all.

The World Cup biathlon event in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, this weekend will be held, but without spectators. Martin Fourcade of France, who leads the World Cup, was critical of the decision, saying on Twitter: “Inconsistency continues. Czech fans cannot attend, while there is no problem for the whole biathlon caravan to travel there in spite of the fact we were all in Italy less than 14 days ago.”

The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 19, has been postponed, with no new date set. Motorcycle Grand Prix canceled its first two races of the season, in Qatar and Thailand.

The Tokyo Marathon on Sunday limited its field to a few hundred elite runners and told the tens of thousands of others who had registered to stay home. Spectators were also urged to stay inside, so the event was held on mostly empty streets.

The L.P.G.A. Tour canceled three consecutive events in February and March in China, Thailand and Singapore. The tour resumes in Arizona later this month.

A game between Ireland and Italy in the annual Six Nations tournament, to be played on Saturday in Dublin, has been postponed with no makeup date yet set. The Hong Kong and Singapore events in the rugby sevens series have been pushed back to October.

Two legs of the U.A.E. Tour were canceled after two riders from Italy tested positive for the virus. The leader after the first five stages, Adam Yates, was declared the winner.

Alan Blinder contributed reporting



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