How the Covid-19 has hit global sport

The ATP and WTA tournaments have already offered refunds to anyone who has bought tickets but does not want to attend

by AFP/ pic by AFP

AFP looks at the effects of the coronavirus on sports, which by yesterday (at press time) had killed over 3,800 people, while infecting more than 110,000 in over 100 countries.


• In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 366 deaths (at press time) from Covid-19, Serie A descended into controversy when Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for the league season to be put on hold.

Italian Footballers’ Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that “stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now. The teams to cheer are playing in our hospitals, in emergency rooms”.

However, five Serie A games — cancelled the previous week — went ahead behind closed doors, including Juventus’ top of the table clash with Inter Milan.

• Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday and tomorrow’s Valencia v Atalanta match will be played behind closed doors, as will the Europa League tie featuring Inter Milan against Getafe on Thursday.

• 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.

• Former Danish international Thomas Kahlenberg tested positive for the virus, with 13 members of his former club Brondby’s staff put into quarantine.

• Two women’s international friendlies in France tomorrow between France v Netherlands in Valenciennes and Canada v Brazil in Calais will go ahead behind closed doors.

• German league considering imposing Bundesliga spectator ban. Tennis

• The prestigious Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Indian Wells tournament was cancelled as California health officials declared a public health emergency in the Indian Wells-Palm Springs area after there was a confirmed case of the coronavirus, the first major sports event in the US to be shelved because of the outbreak.

Many players had already arrived with main draw matches having been scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

The tournament, which draws more than 400,000 fans each year, had already offered refunds to anyone who bought tickets but did not want to attend.

Rugby Union

• The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on March 14, 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 March 14, was delayed on Monday.

• Scotland’s women’s Six Nations match against France on Saturday was postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for the Covid-19.

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


• Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix (F1 GP) on March 20-22 will be held without spectators.

• F1’s Chinese GP, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, has been postponed.

• In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, which should have taken place over the weekend, was cancelled and the Thailand MotoGP on March 22 postponed until Oct 4.

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

• The E-prix in Sanya, China, on March 21 has been cancelled.


• LeBron James said he won’t play if his Los Angeles Lakers have to hold games behind closed doors due to the outbreak.

The US National Basketball Association has reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play without fans in the arena amid concerns over the spreading virus.

“Nah. It’s impossible. If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in the crowd, then I ain’t playing. This ain’t Europe.”


• 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 March 14, was also cancelled along with the Tirreno-Adriatico.

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

Tokyo Olympics

• International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last week 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 during the Executive Board meeting,” Bach told reporters in Lausanne.

The Olympics take place from July 24-Aug 9.


• 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 US$5 million (RM21.1 million).


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

• World half-marathon championships, due to be held on March 29 in the Polish city of Gdynia, shelved until Oct 17.

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

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