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[Newsmaker] How the coronavirus has hit global sport


Published : March 5, 2020 - 10:15

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(Reuters-Yonhap) (Reuters-Yonhap)

PARIS (AFP) -- The International Olympic Committee insist that a potential cancellation or postponement of this year's Tokyo Olympics due to the global spread of the deadly coronavirus were "not mentioned" at a meeting of their Executive Board on Wednesday.

However, the virus, which has killed 3,200 people while infecting 90,000 in more than 60 countries worldwide, is having a major impact on world sport.

AFP Sport looks at the latest effects on Wednesday:


International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said that the nightmare scenario of either cancelling or postponing the 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.

"I will not add fuel to the flames of speculation. We are fully committed to the success of the Tokyo Games."

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.

Japan says it will, however, adjust the Olympic torch relay set to begin this month "as necessary".

The Olympic flame is set to arrive in Japan on March 20 and depart less than a week later on a nationwide relay that will begin in Fukushima.


In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 107 deaths, it was announced that all matches -- as well as all major sports events -- will be played behind closed doors until April 3.

"Closing doors but continuing matches is the right thing to do, so the people aren't put at risk," Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang told the BBC.

(AP-Yonhap) (AP-Yonhap)

This week's Italian Cup semi-finals were postponed to a date to be arranged while a number of league games were cancelled over the last two weekends.

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.


(AFP-Yonhap) (AFP-Yonhap)

The Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin, scheduled for Saturday, had already been cancelled.

The Italy v England match set for Rome on March 15 will be played without spectators.

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


(AP-Yonhap) (AP-Yonhap)

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.


Daniel Berger (AP-Yonhap) Daniel Berger (AP-Yonhap)

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.

The Abu Dhabi Ladies Open, due to start on Friday, was shelved Wednesday.


(AFP-Yonhap) (AFP-Yonhap)

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 abandoned cycling event -- two Russians, two Italians, one German and a Colombian had been infected.

Australian cycling team Mitchelton-Scott said they were pulling out of a series of major races including Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. The team will sit out races between March 4-22 in Italy (Strade Bianche, GP Industria, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Trofeo Binda), France (Paris-Nice), Belgium (Nokere) and the Netherlands (Ronde van Drenthe).


The Davis Cup qualifiers between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari and Japan against Ecuador in Miki will be played without spectators.


The launch of the inaugural Basketball Africa League has been postponed.

The NBA-backed 12-team league had been due to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal.


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


The flagship China Open snooker tournament, scheduled to be held between March 30 and April 5, was called off in late January. (AFP)

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