- UK Cycling chief Stephen Park fears Tokyo 2020 Olympics may have to ban fans
- Skiing world championships in Cortina, Italy, will block supporters from Alps
- Six Nations officials could have to delay final games until October at earliest
- Football, rugby, London Marathon and Grand National could all be under threat
- Teams in coronavirus-hit Italy are already playing matches in empty stadiums
- Euro 2020 could change and Liverpool could miss out on Premier League title
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be played out without fans to curb the spread of coronavirus as the killer disease threatens to wreck the international sporting calendar, it was revealed today.
Holding the world’s biggest sporting event in empty stadiums could be the best way to avoid calling it off completely or moving it to another country, British Cycling chief Stephen Park has claimed.
A number of sports in Japan – including baseball, tennis, sumo wrestling and horse racing – have already barred supporters to try and stop the virus from spreading.
The Olympics is the latest major sporting event that could in jeopardy including the Euro 2020 championships this summer, which is taking place in cities across the continent in June and July.
Today it also emerged that the crescendo of the Six Nations rugby championship, which is due to end on March 14, could now be delayed until October.
The speedy spread spread of coronavirus through Italy and into Europe forced the postponement of Saturday’s match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin – but the Aviva stadium is not free until the Autumn because of three Euro 2020 matches, gigs and other sports matches.
And England’s match with the Italians in Rome on March 14 is looking increasingly precarious with 20,000 supporters booked to travel to the Eternal City, which has now been classed as a high risk coronavirus destination by the UN health agency. A Six Nations summit being held in Paris today is expected to make a final decision.
Premier League and FA Cup matches are certain to be under threat or played behind closed doors if the situation gets worse while the London Marathon and the Grand National in April could also be at risk because of the large number of spectators mixing in London and Aintree respectively.
Today UEFA chiefs spent ‘just two minutes’ discussing the potential threat posed by the coronavirus
outbreak to this summer’s European Championship at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting in Amsterdam.
But Europe’s governments are all considering banning public events if coronavirus cases spiral out of control, and Italian football matches being cancelled or played behind closed doors, some disruption is expected to league and cup football.
British Cycling chief Stephen Park has added to the suggestion the Olympics could take place in Tokyo without fans because of the coronavirus crisis.
International Champions Cup cancels games that would have taken place in Asia this summer due to coronavirus:
The International Champions Cup have announced they have cancelled all of their games that would have taken place in Asia this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The ICC is a pre-season tournament that sees European sides take part in friendly matches against other major teams across north America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
Premier League sides Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal took part in the competition last summer.
A spokesperson for the ICC’s promoters, Relevant Sports, said: ‘The health and safety of fans, clubs, players, staff and partners are our top priority’.
The schedule for matches this coming summer has yet to be announced, although there are likely to be less games due to Euro 2020 and the Copa America.
Sportsmail revealed the International Olympic Committee, World Health Organisation and leaders of various sports federations had discussed the idea of a behind-closed-doors Games as an alternative to calling it off.
And British Cycling performance director Park has become the first figure from one of Great Britain’s Olympic sports to speak publicly about the prospect.
Senior IOC member Dick Pound claimed the Olympics could be cancelled if coronavirus was still around by May. But Park thinks shutting fans out of the Games in July is more likely.
He said: ‘Right now, I’m really confident it will go ahead. You would struggle to find a day when the Olympics didn’t take part for any reason.
‘So, will it mean that they might be different? Possibly. Look at the World Cup skiing in two weeks’ time in Cortina, they are doing it on a closed circuit with no fans, and that’s going to an area that doesn’t currently have any infections.
‘So might there be some of those things that happen? Possibly. Equally we are not worried about them. We are making sure that we don’t let it become a distraction or overtake the preparation.
‘As soon as you start doing that, start thinking it might not happen, what are you preparing for? Does that mean you start easing off, change the budget allocation? So we are full steam ahead expecting to be there in July in Tokyo.’
A number of sports in Japan – including baseball, tennis, sumo wrestling and horse racing – have already barred supporters to try and stop the virus from spreading.
UEFA chiefs spent ‘just two minutes’ discussing the potential threat posed by the coronavirus
outbreak to this summer’s European Championship and the rest of club season at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting in Amsterdam.
Officials are determined not to panic despite the growing disruption caused by the virus, which led to five Serie A matches being postponed last weekend and the Italian Cup final being delayed until later in May.
The opening game of Euro 2020 between Italy and Turkey is due to take place in Rome on 12 June, but UEFA will not be rushed into making a quick decision and will act on the advice given to them by governments.
The issue was raised by president Alexsander Ceferin at today’s Executive Committee, but a source present said the discussion last only two minutes, with the two-hour meeting dominated by the decision to awards the 2022 Europa League to Budapest and minor regulation changes.
‘We’re in touch with the authorities, we’re in the hands of the local authorities, and we’ll deal with whatever they tell us,’ a UEFA spokesman said.
‘There’s no threat to any more matches that I’ve been made aware of, other than the ones that have already been changed.
‘We’re in touch with the local authorities, and we’ll react to what the local authorities say, or what the World Health Organisation and other people say.
‘Nothing’s changed since what we issued last week, that’s the position we’re in.’
Despite being 22 points clear, Liverpool have had ‘no guarantee’ they will be crowned Premier League champions should the season end prematurely.
Millions of supporters travel the length of the UK to follow their team but some are expected to wear masks at matches this weekend or may choose not to travel as the number of cases grew to 40 today.
Newcastle United has a daily tradition where players and staff greet one another with a handshake every morning but manager Steve Bruce admitted last week: ‘We’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor’.
West Ham boss David Moyes said ‘fist bumps’ are allowed but handshakes are also banned at the east London club. He said: ‘After consulting with the medical team, we have supplied all the players with hand gel to keep with them. We’ve also agreed to no shaking hands at the moment, just fist bumps’.
Public Health England has admitted that if the country loses its grip on the virus the public could be banned from sporting events for two months, threatening football fixtures and Six Nations rugby matches this month and the London Marathon and Grand National in April.
Switzerland has banned all events involving more than 1,000 people until at least March 15 in a drastic bid to stop the spread of coronavirus
Further ahead this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome – the capital of coronavirus-hit Italy – is certain to be under review.
The tournament has not yet been affected but UEFA is ‘monitoring’ the coronavirus situation.
Michele Uva, a member of the UEFA executive committee, told Italian broadcaster RAI last week: ‘We are at the waiting stage. We are monitoring country by country, and football must follow the orders of the individual countries. The sporting path will only be closed if the situation gets worse.’
The upcoming Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy has already been postponed to prevent fans bringing it to the Emerald Isle.
The postponement has raised concerns about the cancellation of other major events in upcoming months, including England’s football friendly against Italy at Wembley on March 27.
The Chinese Grand Prix, originally scheduled for April 19, has already been postponed, with Formula One races in Australia, Bahrain and Vietnam are now at risk of cancellation.
Countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak or poised to hold events which may welcome fans from affected countries overseas are now braced for sporting cancellations.
HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR
2020 OLYMPIC GAMES
The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.
The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.
Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22.
World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 2021.
North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea.
The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.
The Paris half-marathon is canceled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organizers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.
A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.
German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’.
Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur in Amman from March 3-11.
The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.
The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.
Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin on Thursday after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.
Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.
All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.
Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.
The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League playing their matches behind closed doors.
Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.
Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled last weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.
Serie A then announced on Saturday that five of this weekend’s fixtures, including the title showdown between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been cancelled. There will now be no games played until March 8 in the regions affected in Italy’s top flight.
The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.
Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 will be played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.
Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 will be played behind closed doors, including Juventus v Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals.
Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears.
Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday.
England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is now in doubt as the FA holds crisis talks following the outbreak in northern Italy.
Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26.
Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.
The Australian Grand Prix will go ahead despite an emergency response plan being enacted across the country to deal with the virus. The chief executive of the tourism council says that Victoria cannot afford for the event to be cancelled.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is still planned to go ahead despite a number of flights from Dubai and the UAE into the country being cancelled this week due to coronavirus fears.
There are growing concerns over whether the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5) will go ahead.
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.
The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed
The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.
The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health
The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).
Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus.
The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go behind closed doors.
Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.
Cheltenham festival is in doubt as organisers set up a steering group to consider the danger posed by the virus, just 13 days prior to the prestigious Gold Cup event
Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.
Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.
Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.
The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.
Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.
All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy
The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine is cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.
China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 playoff.
WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.
Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.
WTA event Kunming Open is considered for cancellation after Xi’an Open was called off. It is due to start on April 27.
Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room.
South Korean baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off.
The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.
A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.
Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.
The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.
Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April.
The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.
The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.
Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed.