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How The Coronavirus Has Hit Global Sport

  • 5 min read

The Milan-San Remo cycling one-day classic and the Alpine skiing World Cup finals were postponed on Friday, the latest high-profile sports events 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 3,456 people while infecting more than 100,000 in 89 countries worldwide.


— The spring classic Milan San-Remo, scheduled for March 21, was postponed on Friday, 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 Saturday, has also been cancelled as has the Tirreno-Adriatico while teams such as Mitchelton, Ineos and Astana have pulled out of Sunday’s Paris-Nice.

— 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.


— 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.

“We are fully committed to the success of the Tokyo Games.”

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.


— 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 behind closed doors 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.

— 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.

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

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


— 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.

— Scotland’s women’s Six Nations match against France was postponed Friday after a Scottish player tested positive for the coronavirus. The game had been scheduled to take place in Glasgow on Saturday.

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


— 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.


— 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.

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


— 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.


— Friday and Saturday’s Davis Cup qualifiers between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari and Japan against Ecuador in Miki are being played behind closed doors.


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

— World Athletics on Friday postponed the world half-marathon championships, due to be held on March 29 in the Polish city of Gdynia, until October 17.

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


— The World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo between March 16-22, were cancelled Friday. The number of people killed by COVID-19 in Italy jumped to 197 on Friday with more than 4,600 cases recorded.