Coronavirus Scare: Sporting World Thrown into Chaos as Infections Grow
Coronavirus has taken the world by storm and everyone is feeling its impact – markets have tumbled, daily lives affected, tourism suffering, and now, the world of sports has joined this club too. In the most recent development, apex sports bodies across the world have suspended/postponed big sporting matches due to Covid-19.
European Football in Limbo
Some of the leading football leagues in Europe have suspended all matches for at least two match days. The suspension can be extended further, or the tournament itself may be curbed depending on the virus develops.
Spain’s La Liga announced recently that there will be no matches for the next two rounds, following the quarantine of Real Madrid squad. The Los Galacticos were quarantined after a Real Madrid basketball player, who shares facilities with the club, was tested positive for the virus. There is still a lot of action to go in La Liga, with the league reaching its exciting conclusion. Bundesliga has also joined the club in suspending its matches until April. Delaying these leagues may impact this further, especially with Euro 2020 also set to be played soon.
EPL Suspended until April 3
English football is particularly feeling the impact of the virus. Mikael Arteta – coach of the EPL side Arsenal, was tested positive for the virus. Chelsea’s Callum Hudon-Oboi is among the first player in the competition to get the Covid-19 bug. Owing to this, Everton has decided to self-isolate themselves, with other clubs expected to soon follow.
It was expected that the EPL matches will continue as usual albeit, in front of empty stands. Liverpool are at the top and are primed to win the title. However, the top Premier League bosses met on Friday to decide on the future of the season. Their decision – to suspend all EPL matches until April 3, with the league working on rescheduling the fixtures. With the cases reported in a few clubs, it is possible that the number may soon grow overnight and immediate steps were taken to halt the virus from spreading.
Italy Feeling the Brunt
In Italy, things are far worse with all football action, including Serie A suspended until April 3. Matches were earlier played in empty stadiums but following the government’s move to restrict all travel and put the country in lockdown, the games have now been postponed. Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was tested positive for the virus recently. As a result, the entire Juventus side is now in a 14-day quarantine.
UEFA Competitions Postponed
The Europa League and the Champions League, scheduled to be played next week, have now been postponed to an unspecified date. The decision came in light of the developments and actions implemented by other governments in the region. The matches postponed include the round of 16 second leg matches in the Champions League, and all Europa League games. The UEFA has also called for a meeting with all football stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss the next course of action.
Tennis World Thrown into Uncertainty
March is a massive month for tennis with two important tournaments – the Indian Wells Open and Miami Open, conducted during this time. These two competitions hold a lot of weightage for the professional tennis stars but this time around, things are a lot different. Following the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the Indian Wells Open and Miami Open have been suspended for the time being. No statement has been yet made on whether the tournaments will be conducted at a later stage in time.
Similarly, the Volvo Charleston Open was also suspended in the States. It is yet to be seen whether the Italian Open, Madrid Masters and the French Open will go as per the plan. These events start in late-April/early May, thus giving the organizers enough time to gauge and plan accordingly.
Cricket Tournaments Postponed
The much-awaited Indian Premier League has also been postponed due to the virus in India to April 15. Originally scheduled to start at the end of March, the move to postpone the tournament came on Friday as a precautionary measure. Even though India is not among the most severely impacted country because of the virus, the government does not want to take any chances in dealing with the outbreak.
The India-South Africa ODI series is being played behind closed doors. In the same way, Australia and New Zealand are playing their 3-match ODI series in front of empty stands. Similarly, England’s Tour of Sri Lanka for test series has also been called-off, with no announcement for the new dates.
These developments also cast doubt on whether the ICC T20 World Cup can proceed this year. Even though the tournament is pegged for a September start, the organizers will keep a close eye on the virus pandemic.