More than 80,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus which originated in China and has already spread to over 30 states. Countries including South Korea, Italy and Iran are seeing a significant increase in the number of infections. Needless to say, the world of sports has also been affected by the outbreak. Let’s check the situation with STATSCORE.
Sporting events in China cancelled due to coronavirus
In China, where the virus originated, numerous sporting events have been cancelled or postponed:
- Chinese Super League start was postponed, just like all the other football competitions in the country.
- The World Athletics Indoor Championships were postponed until the next year
- The World Modern Pentathlon Championships, due to take place on May 25-31, have been moved from Xiamen in China to Cancun in Mexico.
- United World Wrestling’s Asian Olympic Qualifiers (March 27-29) have been moved from the Chinese Xi’an to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
- Archery World Cup event in Shanghai has been postponed from May to autumn.
- FIFA and AFC (Asian Football Confederation) have agreed to let China play its upcoming home 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers at neutral venues. The matches against the Maldives (March 26) and Guam (March 31) will be held in Buriram in Thailand.
- The second leg of the tie between China and South Korea in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 Asian Qualifiers Final Round Playoff will be held in Australia.
- China has postponed its Olympic Swimming Trials and National Championships from March 28-April 4, to May 10-16.
Coronavirus in Italy threatens sporting events
Italian authorities are implementing draconian measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Police set up roadblocks and fines are imposed on people who try to leave or enter outbreak areas. In the region of Lombardy 11 towns are under lockdown, but the coronavirus has already spread south to Tuscany, Lazio, and Sicily.
Last weekend, several Serie A games were postponed, and this weekend five matches in northern Italy will be played behind closed doors, including Juventus vs. Inter Milan. Matches of Udinese, AC Milan, Parma and Sassuolo will also be held without supporters.
Games at the stadiums of Lazio, Napoli, Lecce and Cagliari will go ahead with fans as normal. It is still to be decided whether Sampdoria vs. Hellas Verona on Monday will be played with or without the fans.
Inter Milan’s Europa League home game against Ludogorets on Thursday will be played behind closed doors too.
The outbreak of the virus is also threatening the Six Nations game between Ireland and Italy, which is scheduled on March 7 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The game between Italy and England on March 14 is also in serious jeopardy.
South Korea suspends football league
South Korea is, apart from China, the nation that has been hit hardest by the virus, with almost 1,000 confirmed cases, and seven deaths.
The country’s top football competition, the K-League, has decided to temporarily postpone the start of the season until the spread of the virus eases. The four South Korean teams that play in the AFC Champions League, the continent’s top club competition, were also asked by the league to play their games behind closed doors.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has postponed the 2020 World Team Championships, which had been due to take place on March 22-29 in Busan.
Tokyo Olympic Games could be cancelled because of coronavirus
The threat that the spread of the coronavirus will threaten the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the event scheduled to start on July 24. Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) admits that it is possible that the event will be cancelled altogether, rather than postponed or moved to another country.
The outbreak of the virus affects other sporting events in the country.
J-League, the Japanese football league, has decided to cancel all the games until March 15, and the Tokyo marathon, which was expected to have 38,000 participants, has been restricted to include only the elite runners.
The authorities of the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) have announced that the remaining 72 preseason games will be held behind closed doors.
South Africa’s U23 football team withdrew from a friendly game against Japan, due to be played on March 27 in Kyoto.
Iran’s football to be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus
Iran is the country that currently has the highest coronavirus death toll outside of China.
The Iran Football League Organization has decided that all football and futsal matches in the country will be held without spectators, while other sporting events have been cancelled or suspended.