Coronavirus impact: Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020, Serie A - How COVID-19 outbreak has taken a toll on sporting events
The spread of coronavirus has sent the sporting world into frenzy with sports bodies and federations across countries having to work out a way to tackle the widespread panic. According to a recent report from news agency AFP, over 3100 people have died and over 90,000 have been infected by the COVID-19 virus in over 60 countries worldwide. The disease originated from Wuhan district of China, and majority of cases have originated from the country. But South Korea, Italy and Iran have emerged as the countries with most of the cases outside the epicenter as well.
Here is a look at the sporting events which have been affected by coronavirus so far:
Tokyo Olympics 2020
The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has ensured that the body is busy with preparations for a “successful” summer Olympics which are scheduled to begin in June in Tokyo. At least 230 people across Japan have been reported to be infected with coronavirus, as per a report from news agency AFP. The virus is also reported to be linked to five deaths in the country. But IOC President “expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020”. “A joint taskforce had already been created in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO),” the IOC said.
The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday informed that there have been six positive cases of coronavirus have been reported in India. According to the ministry, the fresh cases of Covid-19 in the country have been reported from New Delhi, Telangana, and Rajasthan where an Italian national has been found positive with the infection in Jaipur. Last month, three cases were recorded in Kerala - who have now recovered and discharged from hospital.
The BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and IPL President Brijesh Patel were questioned whether the upcoming edition of IPL 2020 faces any risk from the looming threat of coronavirus. But both remained firm that there is no threat to the tournament from the virus. “There is no threat as of now and we are keeping a tab (on the situation),” Patel was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. “Nothing in India. Not even discussed it (Coronavirus),” Ganguly added.
UEFA president Aleksander Cerefin on Wednesday expressed confidence that coronavirus will not derail Euro 2020 plans, despite the disease spreading in Europe. Italy is the worst-hit nation in the continent and Rome is one of the 12 venues in Europe where the tournament is set to take place. But Cerefin expressed confidence that the body is prepared for “every eventuality”. “You don’t know how many concerns we have when we organise a big competition,” Ceferin on Tuesday said at a press conference after the UEFA Congress in Amsterdam. “We have security concerns, we have political instability concerns, and one of the concerns is also the virus, and we are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it.”
On Tuesday evening Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, said Valencia’s Champions League last 16, second leg at home to Italian side Atalanta next Tuesday, March 10, should be played behind closed doors. In Italy, Juventus had their Serie A game called off at the weekend, while Inter Milan played a Europa League home game behind closed doors. The Coppa Italia semi-final second-leg match between Juventus and AC Milan in Turin on Wednesday has been postponed indefinitely because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Juventus are due to host Lyon in Turin in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on March 17 and that game could also be played behind closed doors. England’s friendly game against Italy scheduled for March 27 has been cancelled.
WWE’s biggest pay-per-view WrestleMania, is set to take place in Tampa Bay, Florida, this year. According to a report from Forbes, two people in Manatee and Hillsborough Country, Fla. tested “pre-emptively positive” for coronavirus, which has led to Florida Governor Rob DeSantis issuing an executive order declaring a public health emergency in the state. Governor DeSantis had previously revealed that 15 people tested positive for the virus within the state of Florida.
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon talked to reporters about coronavirus affecting WrestleMania. Here’s what she said: The health and safety of not only our fan base, but also our superstars, really does come first. We don’t want to put anyone in a bad situation ever, regardless of the circumstance. Those are not risks worth taking.” Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, further added: “You’ve got to be nimble, and you’ve got to be ready. Thirty-six days is a long time, so it’s hard to predict. I think we just continue to information gather as much as possible, so that we are as prepared as possible.” Stephanie further noted “and if necessary, enact those measures.”
Shooting: NRAI has dropped Italy as a training venue for Indian shooters and also cancelled plans to set up a pre-Olympic base in South Korea following the coronavirus outbreak.
Wrestling: The Asian Olympics qualifiers were set to take place from March 27 to March 29 in Xi’an, China to Bishek in Kyrgyzstan. But the Kyrgyzstan Government recently advised national sports federations against hosting any international events, which has further led to postponement of the qualifiers. So far, the United World Wrestling (UWW) has not given an update on the rescheduled venue and time.
Boxing: The Asian Boxing Qualifiers, which were originally set to take place from February 14 to February 27 in Wuhan, China, were rescheduled to take place from March 3 to March 11, in Amman, Jordan.
Motor Sport: In F1, Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled last month. In Formula E, Sanya ePrix was postponed from March 21st. Moto GP were forced to cancel the first two races of the 2020 championship in Qatar and Thailand.
(With inputs from agencies)