Tokyo Olympics canceled as coronavirus overwhelms
As novel coronavirus tightens its stranglehold globally, several sports events in 2020 have either been postponed or stands canceled the world over. One look at the sporting calendar and it is all about canceled events.
The Tokyo Olympics are to be postponed until 2021 following talks between Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach on March 24.
Abe said they had established that canceling the Games was out of the question, and that Bach had agreed “100 percent” that a postponement was the most appropriate response to the global upheaval which has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators,” Abe told reporters shortly after his conversation with Bach, adding that the Games would be held by the summer of 2021.
The Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee said later in a joint statement.
The aforementioned decision has been expedited as Canada and Australia said they would not send athletes to Japan in July, while the British and French Governments urged the IOC to make a quick decision.
The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will continue to be called the ‘Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020’ even if they are held next year, and the Olympic flame will stay in Japan “as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times”.
- Euro 2020
Euro 2020 has been postponed until 2021 after the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) reached an agreement with key governing bodies on March 17 following the global coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has also decimated the football calendar.
The 24-team European Championship, which was to be held across Europe to mark UEFA’s 60th anniversary, will now take place from June 11 to July 11 in 2021.
UEFA relayed the news after an emergency video conference with all 55 of its affiliated national federations and representatives from clubs and leagues on March 17 in which it also confirmed all UEFA competitions and matches (including friendlies) for clubs and national teams for both men and women have been put on hold until further notice, including playoffs.
“We are at the helm of a sport that vast numbers of people live and breathe that has been laid low by this invisible and fast-moving opponent,” UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.
“It is at times like these, that the football community needs to show responsibility, unity, solidarity and altruism. It is the biggest crisis that football faced in history. We all know that this terrible virus that is all across Europe made football and all life in Europe quite impossible. We knew we have to stop the competitions,” Ceferin further stated.
The host cities of Euro 2020, the first to be staged across the continent rather than hosted by a single or joint-host nations, were Glasgow, Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Munich, Rome, St Petersburg, Bucharest, Budapest and Baku, with the climax set for London’s Wembley Stadium.
Ceferin informed that for 2021, “The plan is to have the same venues, the same cities, the same stadiums. But, if anything gets complicated, then we can as well do it with 11, then nine or less stadiums. But the plan is that everything stays the same.”
- Women’s European Championship
The UEFA has confirmed that the 2021 Women’s European Championship in England will be rescheduled to accommodate the men’s edition, which was due to take place this summer but was pushed back a year as football is scathed – as is the case with other sports – by coronavirus.
The women’s sporting showpiece was all set to get kicked off on July 7, 2021, at Old Trafford in UK.
- European football
- UEFA has confirmed that Champions League is on hold indefinitely until further notice due to coronavirus crisis;
- UEFA has confirmed that Europa League is on hold indefinitely until further notice due to coronavirus scourge; and
- FIFA Club World Cup’s future shrouded in uncertainty with tournament to clash with Euros and the Copa America after both events was pushed back until the summer of 2021.
Status: On hold
This year’s 12-nation Copa America has also been postponed until 2021, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said in a statement recently.
The tournament, which was due to take place in Argentina and Colombia from June 12 to July 12 this summer, has become the latest football event to be pushed back for COVID-19.
CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez informed that the rescheduled tournament would be played between June 11 and July 11, 2021.
Dominguez further said, “This is an extraordinary measure for an unexpected situation and responds to the fundamental need to avoid the exponential evolution of the virus. It wasn’t easy to take this decision, but we must safeguard at all times the health of our players and all those who form part of the big South American football family. Have no doubts that the oldest international tournament in the world will be back stronger than ever in 2021.”
FIFA also accepted CONMEBOL’s request to suspend the beginning of World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of March due to coronavirus outbreak.
All football in Spain, including La Liga, has been put on hold indefinitely while the country tries to tackle and come to terms with the continued spread of coronavirus.
Football will not resume until the Spanish Government deems it safe to do so without any health risk.
Status: Put on hold indefinitely
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer (MLS) has suspended its season until further notice.
Asian World Cup
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation have postponed all Asian World Cup qualifying matches in March and June.
UAE sports events
All sporting events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been suspended as COVID-19 continues to afflict people globally and is also taking a huge toll on human lives. The tournaments have been postponed to next year.
Several professional and amateur sporting events in the UAE already stand canceled due to the virus, but the General Authority of Sports (GAS) announced the suspension of all activities across all sports, including tournaments and competitions.
Dubai World Cup
The Dubai World Cup – the pièce de résistance of horse racing events – has been postponed as the whole world is caught in the vortex of coronavirus.
“To safeguard the health of all participants, the higher organizing committee of the Dubai World Cup 2020 has decided to postpone the 25th edition of the global tournament to next year,” the Dubai Media Office tweeted.
This year’s event was set to take place on March 28 at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, behind closed doors.
Race organizers said it was off “to safeguard the health of all participants”.
Grand Prix events
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, due to take place on June 7 this year, has been postponed as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is run on the streets of Baku.
The street race in Baku is the eighth race to be called off at the start of the 2020 World Championship season due to coronavirus outbreak.
Race organizers informed that they would work closely with F1 “with a view to announcing a new date later in 2020”.
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Monaco Grand Prix
The Monaco Grand Prix – the pièce de résistance on the Formula 1 calendar – has been canceled after the organizers conceded that the “situation is no longer tenable” to stage the event. Its 2020 edition had been scheduled for May 21-24. No fresh dates have been announced and it has been canceled altogether.
The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held annually on the Circuit de Monaco on the last weekend in May. Monaco is located on the French Riviera in Western Europe.
The Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) made the announcement after the motor-racing championship earlier said that the Monaco GP, along with the returning Dutch GP and the Spanish GP, would be postponed amid COVID-19.
The ACM said in a statement, “The current situation concerning the worldwide pandemic and its unknown path of evolution, the lack of understanding as to the impact on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) F1 World Championship 2020, the uncertainty with regards to the participation of the teams, the consequences with regards to the differing measures of confinement as taken by various Governments worldwide, the multiborder restrictions for accessing the Principality of Monaco, the pressure on all implicated businesses, their dedicated staff who are unable to undertake the necessary installations, the availability of the indispensable workforce and volunteers (more than 1,500) required for the success of the event means that the situation is no longer tenable.”
The announcement means COVID-19 continues to cast a long shadow on the F1 calendar.
Australian Grand Prix
The season-opening Australian Grand Prix which was all set to be held on March 15 was canceled on March 13, but not before 12 hours of chaotic indecision led thousands of race fans to mass at the Albert Park gates in the expectation of the race going ahead. Since 1996, the showpiece is being held at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne.
Bahrain Grand Prix
The Bahrain Grand Prix has also been postponed as Covid-19 leaves behind a trail of deaths the world over. The race had been set for March 20-22 at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir and was earlier supposed to be held behind closed doors.
Formula 1 and the FIA said in a statement that they will continue to work closely with the race promoters in Bahrain to monitor the situation and study the viability of potential alternative date for the race.
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Chinese Grand Prix
The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, which had been scheduled for April 17-19 at the Shanghai International Circuit, has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. No new dates have been released till date.
Amid continued health concerns and with the World Health Organization(WHO) declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, Formula 1, together with governing body the FIA, jointly decided to accept the postponement request in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans.
A statement sent out by Formula 1 read, “The Chinese Grand Prix has always been a very important part of the F1 calendar and the fans are always incredible. We all look forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wish everyone in the country the best during this difficult time.”
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Vietnam Grand Prix
COVID-19 has also thrown out of gear Vietnam Grand Prix 2020. The Vietnam Grand Prix slated for April 3-5 this year at the recently completed Hanoi Circuit has been postponed.
Vietnam postponed its debut Formula One Grand Prix on March 13 as fears over the spread of the deadly coronavirus decimated the start of the track season. The Grand Prix which was supposed to be held in Hanoi was the first-ever to be held by the Communist country.
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Dutch Grand Prix
COVID-19 has thrown off the track, literally, the Dutch Grand Prix too. The Dutch Grand Prix, due to return to the calendar for the first time since 1985, was set to be held at Zandvoort (Netherlands) on May 1-3 this year.
The Formula 1 and the FIA said in a statement that they would “study the viability of finding alternative dates for the race later this year”.
The statement added, “The decision has been taken in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern.”
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Spanish Grand Prix
Also stands canceled are the Spanish Grand Prix. The Spanish Grand Prix is a Formula One race currently held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. The race is one of the oldest in the world still contested, celebrating its centenary in 2013. The race had modest beginnings as a production car race.
It was not unexpected given the increasingly strong grip of coronavirus on Europe and fears that mass gatherings and movement of F1 teams and fans across the continent would only exacerbate the situation.
Status: Postponed (Date Unknown)
Seven Grands Prix – Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Azerbaijan – have been postponed while Monaco has been canceled altogether.
The rescheduling of postponed Grands Prix remains the target of F1. A joint statement made in this regard by FIA and Formula 1 hoped that racing may be able to resume in May – “The FIA and Formula One expect to begin the 2020 championship season as soon as it is safe to do so after May and will continue to regularly monitor the COVID-19 situation.”
F1 Chairman Chase Carey said in a statement that he expected “the season to start at some point this summer, with a revised calendar of between 15-18 races”.
The 2020 schedule originally contained a record 22 races but the coronavirus crisis has thrown the season into total chaos.
Casey further stated, “While at present no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, it will improve. When it does, we’ll be ready to go racing again. We are all committed to bringing our fans a 2020 championship season. We recognize there’s significant potential for additional postponements in currently scheduled events.”
For now, no F1 racing until June this year.
The Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th edition may be delayed further if the coronavirus crisis deepens in India. IPL 2020, which was scheduled to start on March 29, 2020, has been delayed till April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill.
With Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a lockdown of the whole country for 21 days from March 24 midnight, it is likely that the tournament might even get canceled.
According to media sources, the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is also mulling a curtailed IPL season probably at the end of this year.
The following series are likely to be affected in case no cricket is played in 2020 which, if becomes a reality, will be for the first time since World War II.
- June: England v West Indies – three Tests
- July-August: England v Pakistan – three Tests
- July: West Indies v South Africa – two Tests
- July: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka – three Tests
- August: Bangladesh v New Zealand – two Tests
- November-December: New Zealand v West Indies – three Tests
- December-January (2021): Australia v India – four Tests
- December-January (2021): New Zealand v Pakistan – two Tests
Status: Hangs in balance
With coronavirus spreading like wild fire globally, men’s tennis has shut down for a minimum of six weeks with the women’s game expected to follow.
Major tennis events like the Miami Open which was scheduled to start later this month, has been canceled. The tournament had been scheduled from
March 23 to April 5 2020, at the Dolphins’ stadium complex in Miami Gardens at Florida in US.
It’s the second top tennis tournament affected in five days. The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, was postponed on March 15, less than 24 hours before qualifying matches were scheduled to begin.
The 2020 French Open is still on track and is scheduled to be held at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France, from September 20 to October 4, 2020. It is currently unaffected by the pandemic. But, if the situation improves, the French Open will be saved, but there is no guarantee.
Till now, this year’s Wimbledon tournament is due to get underway on June 29, 2020, and will continue till July 12, 2020. It feels likely that this year’s tournament will have to be postponed and played at a later date – but no decision has been announced till date.
The PRO14 is an annual rugby union competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
The league, which comprises leading clubs and provinces from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa and Italy, initially suspended its season last week, stating the decision was “inevitable” due to cross-border travel bringing “unique challenges”.
This season’s Pro14 Final was due to take place at Cardiff City Stadium in Wales, UK, on June 20 this year. Pro14 said refunds will be made automatically to all who have already purchased tickets.
The Pro14 had initially been suspended on March 12 when tournament Director David Jordan said, “We have made this decision with everyone’s welfare foremost in our minds. With an evolving situation in the five countries that take part, it is important to make a clear decision in keeping with the advice of the various Governments involved.”
World Snooker Championship
On March 20, 2020, World Snooker Tour Chairman Barry Hearn announced that the tournament had been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the event would now be held at a later date, possibly July or August 2020. When new dates are confirmed, tickets for the final stages will be automatically transferred, while the policy for refunds will be detailed.
The qualifying rounds of the sport’s biggest event were due to run from April 8-15 at the English Institute of Sport at Sheffield in UK, followed by the final stages from April 18 to May 4 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which has staged the event for the past 43 years.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn said, “Snooker players are self-employed, they need opportunities to earn prize money so we have a responsibility to them. We are currently exploring the potential to stage tournaments behind closed doors to keep the circuit alive, with more details to follow next week. Live televised coverage of the biggest sporting events can be an inspiration to people around the world in these challenging times, so it is important that we strive to find solutions for our tournaments.”
- Event – International Swimming Federation – FINA Artistic Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament which was scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan, from April 3 to May 3, 2020, has been postponed.
- FINA Diving World Cup scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan from April 21-26, 2020, stands postponed.
- FINA Diving World Series scheduled to be staged from March 27 to 29, 2020, in London, stands postponed.
- FINA Diving Grand Prix which was all set to be held from May 29-31, 2020, in Singapore, has been canceled.
- ISSF International Solidarity Championships which was slated to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from February 22-28, has been postponed.
- Archery World Cup in Shanghai which was supposed to be held from May 4-10, stands canceled.
- World Athletics Indoor Championships which was scheduled to be held from March 13-15, 2020, in Nanjing, China, has been postponed to March 2021.
- Barcelona Marathon which was to be staged on March 15, 2020, has been postponed to October 25, 2020.
- Rome Marathon slated for March 29, 2020, canceled.
- Paris Marathon slated for April 5, 2020, postponed to October 18, 2020.
- London Marathon has been postponed until October.
- The German Open which was scheduled to be held in Mulheim from March 3-8 stands canceled.
- The India Open Badminton Tournament scheduled to be held in New Delhi from March 24-29 has been suspended at least till April 12.
- The Asia Championships which was to be held from April 21-26, 2020, in Wuhan, China, was shifted to Manila, the Philippines, but now stands postponed.
- Major League Baseball (MLB): Spring training remaining games canceled; season delayed by two weeks.
- World Baseball Softball Confederation – WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, which was scheduled to be held in March at Arizona, USA, stands postponed.
Basketball – including 3×3
- The National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended all games from March 11, 2020.
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournaments have canceled all games from March 12, 2020.
- The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has suspended all competitions from March 13, 2020.
- The FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament which was scheduled to be held in Bengaluru, India, from March 18-22, 2020, has been postponed.
- Men’s Euro League suspended from March 12, 2020.
- Women’s Euro League suspended from March 13, 2020.
- The Boxing American Olympic Qualification Event scheduled to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from March 26 to April 3, 2020, has been suspended.
- The Boxing World Olympic Qualification Event which was to be staged in Paris, France, from May 13-24, 2020, is canceled.
- The Masters at Augusta which was due to be held from April 9 to 12 at Augusta National in Georgia, US, has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The first men’s major championship of the year in golf was due to begin on April 9 this year.
- The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour has canceled all tournaments until mid-May.
- The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Thailand which was supposed to be held in Pattaya from February 20-23, 2020, was canceled.
- The Indian Open which was slated to be held in New Delhi from March 19-22, 2020, in New Delhi stands postponed.
- The Six Nations Event – Ireland vs. Italy which was scheduled to be held in Dublin on March 7, 2020; Italy vs England which was scheduled to be held in Rome on March 14, 2020; and France vs. Ireland which was slated to be held in Paris on March 14, 2020, has been postponed.
- Women’s Six Nations Event – Italy vs. Scotland which was slated to be held in Legnano in Italy on February 23, 2020; Scotland vs. France slated to be held in Glasgow (UK) on March 7, 2020; Ireland vs. Italy slated to be held in Dublin (Ireland) on March 8; Italy vs. England slated to be held in Padua (Italy) on March 15; Wales vs. Scotland in Cardiff (UK) on March 15; and France vs. Ireland in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (France) on March 15, all stands postponed.
- The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Table Tennis Championships, which was stated to be held in Busan, South Korea, has been rescheduled to June 21-28, 2020.
- The Japan Open in Kitakyushu (Japan) which was supposed to be staged on April 21-26, 2020, stands postponed.
- The South Korea Open which was scheduled to be held in Busan (South Korea) on June 16-21, 2020, stands suspended.
- The Australian Open which was set to be held in Geelong (Australia) on June 23-28, 2020, has been suspended.
- The National Hockey League (NHL) stands suspended from March 12, 2020.
- The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, slated to be held from March 31 to April 10, 2020, has been postponed to 2021.
- IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, scheduled to be held in Lausanne and Zurich in Switzerland from May 8-24, 2020, stands canceled.
Coronavirus has not only ripped apart the people globally but has also shredded the sporting calendar. A host of blue-riband sporting events stands canceled, postponed, rescheduled or suspended and the major sporting showpiece of 2020 – the Tokyo Olympics – has also been rescheduled to 2021.
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