by Luke Wakeling
Sporting fixtures worldwide are facing jeopardy from the outbreak of COVID-19. With over 100,000 cases worldwide and nearly 5000 deaths at the time of writing, and the number still rapidly growing, public health officials are taking strong action.
Recently the sporting calendar has taken a toll, with an increase of cancellation and postponement of major sporting events.
The morning of Friday 13 saw a host of announcements from various football governing bodies in the UK as the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, as well as the respective FAs in Scotland and Wales postponed all action until April 3.
The decision comes as the entire country enters the ‘delay’ phase of dealing with Covid-19. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi both tested positive for the virus last week.
This has resulted in the two clubs and many others enforcing self-isolation amongst players and staff.
This week’s Champions League and Europa League fixtures have also been postponed, along with a number of domestic leagues in Europe. These postponements and cancellations will have huge consequences for the rest of the sporting year.
The Italian football federation said the Serie A season may not finish, with alternative options including staging a play-offs, not having a champion for the 2019-20 season or declaring the current standings final.
With Italy further along the ‘Coronavirus timeline’ than other countries in Europe, it would not be surprising if the same happens to other leagues if the outbreak cannot be contained more effectively than in Italy.
French newspaper L’Equipe have reported that UEFA are set to move the European Championships to the summer of 2021.
However, this could create a logistical nightmare for the federation, with the Nations League, Women’s European Championships, and Club World Cup all scheduled for that summer.
After the Indian Wells got cancelled, one of the biggest tennis tournaments outside the Grand Slams, the ATP tour has been suspended for six weeks.
The NBA has also been suspended until further notice after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for the virus.
Other postponements and cancellations, as of 13 March, include: Formula 1’s first four races of the season, Rugby Union’s Pro14, the NHL Ice Hockey Season, a number of Six Nations matches including Wales vs Scotland, The Masters golf tournament and the new MLB season has been pushed back.
There have been concerns of the viability of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Speculation of cancellation still remains up in the air.
The IOC are currently staying positive for the running of the event in June, in hope that the outbreak has reached its current peak and will ease for the summer months.
Postponing the Olympics would also have unparalleled consequences, specifically for Japan’s economy, spectators and the athletes themselves who train specifically in four year cycles for the Games.
Further implications have already been noticed; qualifying trials due to be held over the upcoming months have been postponed and cancelled.
As the world begins to prepare for the effects of the current pandemic, sport’s struggle with COVID-19 seems relatively insignificant.
However, the impact of sport cannot be understated on fans and participants worldwide, and many will hope normal service will resume soon to provide a well needed distraction from the bleak potentiality of Coronavirus.
It is worth noting that all of the information above was correct as of Friday 13 March.
Further announcements may have been made by the time of publication.